Environmental & Social Contribution Award Nominees

20 July 2020

by Nina Fitzgerald and Ellie Meyer

Image: Perina Drummond working on set. Photo courtesy of Jira Models.

NIFA | Environmental and Social Contribution Award

In the lead up to the inaugural NIFAs, we’ll be delving into each of the six award categories, and introducing you to some of the amazingly talented nominees. Next up, the Environmental and Social Contribution Award, celebrating excellence and leadership in environmental and social development understanding, and practice in relation to textiles and fashion.

Country. Culture. Connection.

Consumers, designers and businesses alike are waking up to the detrimental impacts that the fashion industry is having globally to people and the planet. Yet there is also growing potential for fashion to have positive social and environment impacts and instigate real change – from innovations around waste, circular design, and minimising environmental impact through to fashion as a vehicle for social and economic development. We’re seeing a widespread shift in attitudes and approaches, with a call for design and consumption to slow down and innovate. 

For Australia’s First Nations Peoples this focus is nothing new. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge systems are rich and resilient, with a connection to the lands for thousands of years. Sustainable practices toward both the environment and society are inherently woven into their cultural fabric. 

This year’s panel of judges will be considering each nominee based on; impact on community and society, consideration of ethics pertaining to cultural safety, social impacts and fair trade, understanding of environmental and/or social practice, alignment with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, innovation and leadership.

“We were blown away by the calibre of the nominees, their dedication to country and community and their focus on sustainability. Incorporating an effective environmental and social strategy in fashion isn’t just a ‘nice to have’, it’s a complex, multifaceted and foundational piece of design and business practice. There is so much that the broader fashion community can learn from Australia’s First Nations People here.” –  Leila Naja Hibri, CEO, Australian Fashion Council

The prize for this category includes two tickets to the Copenhagen Fashion Summit with a travel allowance of $5,000 which has been proudly sponsored by the Northern Land Council.


The Nominees for this year’s Community Collaboration Award are


Ninti One Limited

In 2019 Ninti One became the first Indigenous-owned supplier to be a lead contractor supporting the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on an aid project outside of Australia. Ninti One Chair Professor Tom Calma called it a breakthrough for Indigenous business. Demonstrating excellence and leadership in environmental and social development understanding, and practice, the ‘Intellectual Property in PNG’s Creative and Cultural Industries’ project explored the current status of Intellectual property (IP) in PNG and concluded with establishing a 5-Year ‘Road Map’. IP is crucial to economic growth and to grow the livelihoods and protect the professional rights of artists. 

Cultural Adviser, Ms Leitha Assan a proud Badhu woman from the Torres Strait, promoted the expertise, knowledge and leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through this Project, with a focus on international partnership and two-way cultural exchange. Leitha also promoted Australian Indigenous culture internationally in PNG. The project contributed to many of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); in particular SDG17 ‘Partnerships’, SDG8 ‘promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all’ and  SDG9 ‘Innovation’. Innovation often manifests itself in the detail, and development of the IP Roadmap is testament to this.

Anindilyakwa Arts for Bush Dye

Since 2015 women artists from Anindilyakwa Arts, an Aboriginal owned business on Groote Eylandt, have established a successful “Bush Dye’ business, using their traditional basket making and plant dye knowledge in new ways. Artist Annabel Amagula says “When we bush dye, the colours come from the old ways. We use that rusty stuff from community, from the dump, to make the patterns. We use leaves too.” The Anindilyakwa Arts 2020 collection, titled Women’s Work, has embraced sustainable practices even more than before, with the artists repurposing local miners’ work shirts. The shirts are ripped up to make baskets and earrings, or cut up to be remade into garments. Artists have been supported with ongoing training and upskilling with leading arts and textile industry mentors, including Darwin designer Anna Reynolds, a Churchill fellowship recipient researching global sustainable fashion. The women’s work collection also features digital printed, natural fabrics, with images of the artists ghost net works, machine and hand sewn by the artists.

Liandra Gaykamangu for Liandra Swim

Liandra Swim is primarily concerned with positively impacting the ethical, environmental and social space in fashion. Designer and founder Liandra Gaykamangu creates swimwear as a vessel to educate and share the positive narratives of inspiring Indigenous Australian women, with each swimsuit being named after a different woman. Their signature culturally infused prints, digitally created in-house, work to share a story with their customers. A contemporary and unique way to share culture with the wider community. Each collection of new designs and prints highlights the achievements of a diverse range of women, with each piece customers receive a card of information on the print and the swimsuits namesake. The SS19/20 collection, The 241: The Contrast, was born from the swimwear’s “two-for-one” reversible range, purposefully allowing the wearer greater control over how they want to wear their pieces. The blue Gapu Waves print highlights the resilience of Indigenous culture, after the immense changes that arrived through colonisation. The black and white Sun Dance print is an ode to the sun, a giver of life.

Perina Drummond for Jira Models

Jira is proud to represent First Peoples of Australia in the modelling world. The agency was founded in 2017 by Stylist and Model Perina Drummond, to assist in creating career pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the industry, and to help shape and strengthen the Australian fashion industry. Talent at Jira are driven by their strong cultural connections and their desire to influence and inspire our communities around Australia. An adaptive innovative business that aims to meet the needs of young models through support, understanding and respect, the agency bears the name of her great great grandmother Nara Jira Para from Wuthathi country. Perina is deeply committed to the health and well being of Indigenous communities and advocates for fashion to engage with employment and learning opportunities. Her leadership has been critical in defining the space for contemporary Indigenous fashion and is helping shape its long term future. She regards the agency as a pathway for many who may go on to sign with larger agencies here or internationally.



This year’s winner will be announced during the inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards (aka NIFA), and broadcast LIVE through the NITV social channels on 5 August! 

To stay updated, be sure to follow @indigenousfashionprojects on Instagram and sign up to the DAAFF newsletter. 


Image Credits

  • Liandra Swim, The Contrast, Jirra Set in the Sun Dance Print. Photo by Tim Henry.
  • Anindilyakwa Arts, Noleen Lalara wearing Bernadette Watts’ bush dye recycled sari silk dress. Photo by Anna Reynolds.
  • Blog Banner & Tile Image | Perina Drummond working on set. Photo courtesy of Jira Models.
  • Ninti One Limited workshops in progress, Photo by Bilums & Bilas..
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