An unsung hero is not how Denise Hedges would describe herself.

However the quiet achiever fits the title more than she believes.

An accomplished Aboriginal artist, mother and proud Wanaruah woman, Denise has used art to inspire and educate both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous community.

This year’s NAIDOC week theme recognises those in the Indigenous community who take their own paths and in doing so, help others set their own direction for the future.

This is what Denise does.

NAIDOC week will be celebrated over the coming weeks.

It is her busiest, favourite month.

A week out and the unofficial community leader is gearing up, ready to go into the community and deliver that message through her art.

A proud Wanaruah woman, she will interact with local school children teaching them how to dot paint.

For non-indigenous students it is an insight into Aboriginal culture and an understanding of it.

For indigenous children it’s a chance to discover and be proud of their heritage.

In Denise’s own words it’s also teaching them to walk tall.

NAIDOC holds an important significance for Denise.

It gives us something to celebrate, to get out there and mix with the non Aboriginal community… coming together to form one, she said.

I like to get our culture out there so the kids are proud of who they are, not like when we were growing up, she said.

A prominent member of Singleton’s indigenous community, a director at Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation, it is initiatives such as NAIDOC week that have helped change attitudes towards Indigenous people.