Ms Duncan was named the winner of the inaugural NSW Deputy Premier’s Regional Achiever Award at the 2019 Seven News Young Achiever Awards Gala Presentation dinner on Friday night.
The 23-year-old Moree woman won the award from a strong field of young achievers.
Ms Duncan is still in shock from the win, which she said was very unexpected.
“I was really shocked and surprised,” she said.
“It was definitely unexpected. I was so convinced I wouldn’t win, I didn’t even write a speech. I was really emotional and trying not to cry.”
Ms Duncan is humbled and honoured to win such a prestigious award – the biggest she’s ever won – however she said even more overwhelming has been all the messages of congratulations and support from the Moree community.
“It’s really humbling; I’m honoured to win the award,” she said.
“I’m still in shock. I don’t do anything I do for awards. To win this award, or any accolade, is pretty surprising, but the outpouring of congratulations and words of support, that’s been more important to me than winning the award. That’s more heartwarming than getting up in front of a crowd full of strangers and accepting the award. Recognition from my community is always going to mean more to me.”
More than 400 people attended the gala presentation at Doltone House – Darling Island.
Ms Duncan, who attended the awards with a table of family, friends and representatives from Pius X Aboriginal Corporation and the Aboriginal Employment Strategy, said it was very humbling to be among so many inspiring young people.
“I realised many of these people are going on to achieve big and important things in life; I’m just a small town girl from Moree,” she said.
“The biggest thing is I don’t think anything I do is out of the ordinary or special; I just do it because I love Moree and am passionate about my community.”
As a winner, Ms Duncan received an impressive trophy, $1,000 cash and a $1,000 Bartercard account.
She said she wasn’t sure what she was going to spend her winnings on, but was considering donating some of it to the Tingha Bushfire appeal, as well as using some to buy toiletries for her Donate for Dignity charity.
Ms Duncan thanked the Moree community for their support, as well as the AES and Pius X, but said the biggest thanks goes to her mum Cathy Budda-Deen for her “support, encouragement and endless love”.
“I learnt my passion for my people and Moree from her and I’m proud to be following in her footsteps,” she said.
“I also have to thank my work the AES, the Pius X board, the Moree Reconciliation Committee and so many others for letting me be a part of the great work they do.
“Like I said, I don’t do anything special or out of the ordinary I am just one of the many people with a passion for Moree and the Aboriginal community who are working for the next generation.
“If anything it is really hard to be so sick all the time with Endometriosis and Fibromyalgia but my crazy ideas for fundraising, events and community involvement are what keep me going. So here’s to another beautiful year in the Big M working to make our community and society as a whole a better place.”