Ella-Duncan was Australia’s first Aboriginal netball representative when she made her international debut against New Zealand in Christchurch in May, 1986.
Her career spanned 18 Tests, which included winning a silver medal at the 1987 Netball World Cup in Scotland.
Sharon Finnan-White (20 Tests) is the only other Indigenous Australian representative.
But Ella-Duncan is confident those numbers will rise in the future through Netball Australia’s commitment to growing participation of Indigenous netballers through the introduction of the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
Ella-Duncan and Finnan-White were both members of the Netball Australia Working Group that developed the RAP along with current West Coast Fever defender Josie Janz-Dawson and former Queensland Firebird and Australian 21/U representative Melina Saunders.
The RAP outlines a course of action that specifically addresses the needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in order to increase participation from grassroots level right through to the Australian Diamonds.
Ella-Duncan started playing netball as a nine-year-old in Sydney and said the sport helped to push her out of her comfort zone and grow her self-confidence.
“I can see a future where we celebrate the wonderful contribution we make to our sport and to our country through increased participation and increased representation rather than lamenting the fact that so few Aboriginal women have ever represented our country in our chosen sport,” Ella-Duncan said.
“We know sport delivers so many benefits and there is no other demographic in Australia that needs these opportunities more than my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sisters.”
She was the first Aboriginal athlete to receive a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and the fourth of her siblings to represent Australia in sport. Her brothers Greg, Gary and Mark played rugby league and rugby union.
“Accepting the award of course is very rewarding for me personally. But for Aboriginal Australia it is 10 times more important,” Ella-Duncan said.
“You can do anything. Not only can you do anything but you can do it very well. I do think there is a really important message in that and I hope the message gets heard by a lot of people.”