It was a night of empowerment, glamour and celebration on Friday as the 2023 Pilbara Girl program marked its 20th anniversary with a spectacular finale. Combined with the Kimberley and Goldfields competitions, the Pilbara Girl finals brought 15 young Indigenous women to the stage to showcase their skills and talents as eight judges looked on. Strutting down the catwalk wearing garments and accessories handmade by the regions’ most talented First Nations designers, the finalists demonstrated what they learnt during the program’s workshops. For the past two decades, Pilbara Girl has provided valuable opportunities for personal growth, career development and self-confidence to the hundreds of young women who have participated. The finals tested the girls’ abilities as they not only showed off their best walk, but their best talk too. Pilbara Girl 2022 winner Margaret Annjinbidie joined the finalists on stage to ask them questions about themselves and what changes they’d like to see in the world. Finalist Nameesha Pell was asked what it took to be a role model. Her response was: “To be a role model, it takes a lot of courage, kindness, and you have to be able to listen to what other people need to talk to you about.” As judges tallied their votes, the audience were treated to an array of live dancers, singers and a keyboard soloist. As the night neared its end there was one last trip down the catwalk, by the contestants and winners from previous years, and then the winners were finally announced. Sharmeeka Aitchison, 16, from Port Hedland took home the facilitators’ choice award and Amelia Willock, 16, also from Port Hedland, was named the runner-up of the 2023 competition. Taya Willock, 16, from Karratha, was crowned the 2023 Pilbara Girl. Speaking to the Pilbara News after her win, Miss Willock said she had made so many good friends with her fellow contestants. “There’s a whole lot of emotions right now, I’m super-happy for all the girls,” she said. “It’s been amazing — I’ve felt like I’ve known them forever. I’m very grateful.” The girls who claimed the top spots will now move on to become Pilbara Girl ambassadors, acting as role models for future participants and other young Indigenous women.