NATIONAL CONGRESS OF AUSTRALIA’S FIRST PEOPLES
BIOGRAPHIES - NATIONAL EXECUTIVE
Dr. Kerry Arabena
(Co-Chair) is a descendant from the Meriam people from the Torres
First trained as a social worker, Kerry was recently awarded a
doctorate from the Fenner School at the Australian National University in
Human Ecology. She has an extensive background in public health,
administration, community development and research.
appointments range from political agencies to health services and include one of
the most remote Aboriginal Medical Services in Australia, the Australian
Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the
Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health.
work has included coordinating population health strategies across northern
Australia and contributions to Australia and the Asia Pacific region in
cross-jurisdictional areas such as gender issues, social justice, human
rights, violence, access and equity, service provision, harm minimisation
and citizenship rights and responsibilities. She has also represented
Australia in international forums on HIV/AIDS and climate change.
Positions held include Director of the Regional Governance Unit in the
Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination; Executive Director of Sexual
Health and Family Planning ACT and Reproductive Healthcare Services in
Canberra; Apunipima Cape York Health Council in Queensland; and Pintubi
Homelands Health Service in the Northern Territory.
Dr. Arabena has
also been a representative on a range of local, state and national councils and committees including chairing the International Advisory Committee for
Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia, the National Indigenous
Australians Sexual Health Committee and as the Chairperson of the ACT
Healthpact Health Promotion Board.
Ms Josephine Bourne is a mainland
Torres Strait Islander born in Townsville North Queensland.
Mother’s ancestry is from Mabuiag Island and the Murray Islands and her
Father’s ancestry is from Mabuiag Island and Moa Island (Kubin).
Ms Bourne has made a significant contribution to many local, regional, state
and national agencies through committees and working groups dealing with
community capacity building, multi-media development and youth leadership.
Tertiary studies in communications, indigenous studies, community
education and community development have led to positions with the
Queensland Education Department in Townsville and in the philanthropic
sector for the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) in Melbourne.
In her roles at the FYA, Josephine was responsible for key initiatives
including managing the Indigenous Youth Leadership Program with 250 students
across Australia and supporting the Foundation’s grants programs.
Ms Bourne has most recently been working with the Steering Committee for the
National Congress and has also been a member of the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Community and Philanthropy Partnership Project Steering
Committee and the Melbourne Living and Learning Centre Steering Committee.
Professor Peter Buckskin is a Narungga man from the Yorke
Peninsula in South Australia. He is currently Dean and Head of School of the
David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research (DUCIER) within
the Division of Education, Arts and Social
Sciences, University of South
As an educator and professional bureaucrat for more than 30
years, Professor Buckskin’s passion has been the pursuit of
educational excellence for Aboriginal students. Professor Buckskin has
worked as a school teacher in Western Australia and South Australia, Chair of
the South Australian Aboriginal Education Consultative Committee,
Ministerial Adviser, Superintendent of Schools, and a Senior Executive at
both State and Federal levels. For over a decade Professor Buckskin worked
as an officer in the Commonwealth's Senior Executive
Service, where he
occupied a number of strategic positions in the portfolios of Aboriginal
Affairs, Employment, Education and Training.
In the 2001 Australia
Day Honours, he was awarded the Commonwealth Public Service Medal (PSM) in
recognition of his outstanding public service in pursuing equality in education
for Australia's Indigenous peoples.
In 2006 he became a Member of
the Australian College of Educators and an elected Fellow of the Academy in
2007 for his continuing contribution to education.
served one term as a Commissioner of the Australian Commission to UNESCO and
continues as Chair of the National Indigenous Higher Education Network,
Executive Member of the World Indigenous Higher Education Consortium,
Co-Chair of the
South Australian Aboriginal Education and Training
Consultative Body and Co-Chair Reconciliation South Australia.
David is a Torres Strait Islander linked to the Komet Tribe of Mer (Murray
Island) through his mother and the Tudulaig of the Kulkalgal Nation (Central
Islands of the Torres Strait) through his father.
Mr David has a
comprehensive background working in education in the Torres Strait as well as a number of organisations focused on land and sea rights and regional
Mr David has played a significant role in leading reform
across a range of sectors including fisheries, native title, education,
training and employment.
Currently the Director of the Yumi Education
Support Services, he has also held positions in the Department of Education
and Training as Manager of Strategic Initiatives and as a Manager at the
Torres Strait Campus, Tropical North QLD Institute of TAFE.
He is also
involved in many community organisations including current positions as:
President of the Torres Strait Islanders Regional Education Council
(TSIREC), member of the National Advisory Committee for the Indigenous Youth
Leadership Program, President of the Urapun Tubudalgal Land Trust, President
of Magani Lagaugal Registered Native Title Body and Secretary of the Torres
Strait Islanders Media Association.
Mr David has previously worked for
the Department of Justice and the Attorney General, the Australian Electoral
Commission, the Island Industries Board, Aboriginal Hostels Limited and the
Island Coordinating Council.
Mr Sam Jeffries (Co-Chair) is a
proud member of the Murrawari nation from north-west NSW and southern QLD
and was born and raised in Brewarrina NSW.
Active in Indigenous
Affairs for more than 25 years, Mr Jeffries has worked in the cotton, hotel
and meat industries, in the public service and in a range of community
organisations including Barriekneal Housing and the Community Development
Employment Program in Lightning Ridge.
Over the last six years as
the Chairperson of Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly in Western NSW he has been
a strong advocate for Aboriginal self-determination, leadership, land rights,
community planning and development and better health services.
Mr Jeffries has an extensive history of holding publicly elected positions
and these include - Councillor on the Walgett Shire Council and five
consecutive terms as an ATSIC Regional Councillor and three as Chairperson.
Other commitments include appointment to a range of national, state and
local committees and bodies: Deputy Chair of the Indigenous Land
Corporation, Chair of the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence, Chair
National Aboriginal Sports Corporation, member of the NSW Aboriginal Trust
Fund Repayment Scheme, Western Catchment Management Authority of NSW.
Previous roles include Board Member of the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office,
Chair of the National Forum of ATSIC Regional Chairpersons and Chair Barwon
Darling Alliance, an alliance between Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly and five
Professor Colleen Hayward is a senior
Aboriginal woman of the Noongar nation in the south-west of Western
Currently the Head of Edith Cowan University’s Centre
for Indigenous Australian Education and Research, Kurongkurl Katitjin,
Professor Hayward has an impressive professional career for more than 30
Starting her working life as a teacher, other positions
previously held include Manager of the Kulunga Research Network at the
Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, senior roles at the Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Services agency and ATSIC, and as Deputy Chief
Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia.
Her work has included providing significant input to policies and programs
on a wide range of issues, reflecting the needs of minority groups at
community, state and national levels. She has an extensive background in a
range of areas including health, education, training,
child protection and law and justice as well as significant experience in
policy and management.
Professor Hayward’s long-standing
work for and on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
across Australia is clearly demonstrated by a range of appointments
These include appointment as an Associate Professor at
Curtin University in Western Australia; selection for Postgraduate studies
at the University of Cambridge; representative at the Australia 2020 Summit;
award finalist for Outstanding Achievement in Aboriginal & Torres Strait
Islander Health (2008) and 2008 National NAIDOC Aboriginal Person of the Year.
Most recently, Professor Hayward was inducted into the WA Department
of Education Hall of Fame for Achievement in Aboriginal Education.
Mr Klynton Wanganeen is a descendant of the Narungga and Ngarrindjeri
Mr Wanganeen has taken leave from Department of Further
Education Employment Science and Technology (DFEEST) for his appointment as
the first Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement in South Australia.
As a Commissioner, he serves as a voice for the Aboriginal community in
Government and provides independent advice to the SA Minister for Aboriginal
Affairs and Reconciliation on Aboriginal matters. His role includes advocacy
and engagement between Aboriginal people
and the broader community;
Aboriginal people's access to government, non-government and private
services; mentoring Aboriginal leaders and consulting with non-government
organisations and peak Aboriginal bodies.
Mr Wanganeen has a long
history as an advocate for Aboriginal affairs. He is currently Chair of the
Narungga Nations Aboriginal Corporation and the SA Congress of Native Title
Committee. Previously he has been a member of the National VET Indigenous
Taskforce and elected as the South Australian Zone Commissioner of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and Chairman of the
Patpa Warra Yunti and Regional Council.
Mr Wanganeen has also held a
range of board appointments including Chairman of the South Australian
Aboriginal Health Partnership and also held many positions during his
professional career including State-wide Program Leader Aboriginal Education
TAFE SA and General Manager of the Aboriginal Access Centre TAFE.
Ms Daphne Yarram is a Noongar woman, born at Gnowangerup on an
Aboriginal mission in South West Western Australia.
Now living in
Sale in Victoria, she has worked for the past 30 years within the Victorian
Indigenous community in a range of professional positions including
voluntary, community, government and private sectors.
that Ms Yarram has supported, helped establish or worked with include: the Victorian Indigenous Leadership Network, Sale Aboriginal Education
Consultative Group, Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation, Gippsland
Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee, Premiers Aboriginal Advisory
Council, and the Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum. Currently
work includes establishing a Indigenous family Violence healing service for
Ms Yarram is passionate about raising the profile of
rural communities and in her many roles has worked hard to ensure that
Aboriginal individuals, families and communities are supported and
encouraged to develop local solutions to respond to issues that impact on their
As a strong advocate, she supports and encourages
Aboriginal women, children, youth and Elders to take on more active roles in
their communities and continues to raise the profile of Aboriginal women.
Proud of her heritage, Daphne continues to maintain cultural practices,
beliefs, traditions and values, which are reflected in her daily life.
Mr Tom Calma is an Aboriginal elder
from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group
whose traditional lands are south west of Darwin and on the Coburg Peninsula
in Northern Territory, respectively. He has been involved in Indigenous affairs
all levels for over 35 years, including the role of Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner from 12 July 2004 to 31 January
Ms Megan Davis (Co-Chair) is Director of the Indigenous
Law Centre and Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, UNSW. Megan teaches and
researches primarily in the field of Indigenous legal issues in Public Law
and International Law. Megan is an Aboriginal woman from south-
Mr Wesley Enoch is an acclaimed award winning
theatre director originally from Stradbroke Island in Queensland –
Nunukul Nuggi. Wesley works almost exclusively in Indigenous Theatre and
focuses wholly on cultural and social engagement through story telling.
Wesley’s extensive experience in directing, writing, script
development, acting and dancing spans two decades.
Graham is a Kombu-merri person on her father’s side and is also
affiliated with the Waka Waka group through her mother, both groups in
Queensland. She has lectured and tutored on subjects in Aboriginal history,
politics, and comparative philosophy at the University of Queensland and at
other educational institutions around the country.
Ngurruwutthun is a senior Cultural Education Advisor and an advocator for
bilingual education Nalwarri’s extensive experience in teaching,
curriculum development, bilingual education and school management spans over
three decades. Nalwarri’s clan is
Munyuku and her homeland is
Rurrangala in Arnhem Land. She is also a member of the Northern Territory
Indigenous Education Council. Nalwarri carries on the vision of her elders
continuing to deliver quality culturally appropriate bilingual education to
young people in Yirrkala/ Laynhapuy Homelands School.
Lester-Irabinna Rigney [PhD] (Co-Chair) is a senior academic with more than
15 years of experience teaching in universities and schools. He is
descendant of the Narungga, Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri Nations. He is well
published and is internationally recognised for his work in Indigenous
Education and Research methodologies. He has worked with Indigenous peoples
on education across the Pacific in Taiwan, Canada and New Zealand.