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Indigenous leader named NT Aussie of year

AAP logoAAP 2/11/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

A woman who has dedicated her career to indigenous equity has been crowned the 2017 Northern Territory Australian of the Year.

Andrea Mason, chief executive of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women's Council, took out the title at an award ceremony in Darwin on Wednesday night.

Working across a 350,000 square kilometre stretch of central Australia, Ms Mason drives social change for indigenous women through employment opportunities, supporting health and tackling domestic violence.

She leads social enterprises such as the Tjanpi Desert Weavers to build micro businesses, and was also named the 2016 Telstra Northern Territory Business Woman of the Year last month.

Ms Mason was also the first indigenous Australian woman to head a political party, leading the Family First Party in 2004.

Sister Anne Gardiner won the NT Senior Australian of the Year for her work in the Tiwi community on Bathurst Island, and healthy living advocate Bridie Duggan won the NT Young Australian of the Year.

Homeless food van founder Tejinder pal Singh took out the NT Local Hero award.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner says the winners hail from vastly different backgrounds yet all have one thing in common - an overwhelming desire to help others.

"These inspirational people epitomise selflessness by often putting others before themselves," Mr Gunner said.

"We can all learn from their efforts and hard work in helping make our communities and the whole of the Northern Territory a better place to live and work."

The winners will join recipients from the other states and territories as finalists for the national awards to be announced on January 25 in Canberra.

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