OUR LEADERS

We come together as leaders from ten regions across urban, regional and remote Australia to drive change.

ANDREA MASON

NPY Lands

I joined the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council in 2008 and since then I have been committed to delivering long-term positive change in the communities across the NPY Lands. Prior to joining NPY Women’s Council, I spent significant periods working in both the Australian and South Australian public sectors.

I am a proud Western Australian, my mother’s people are Karonie and my father’s people are Ngaanyatjarra. I have family and extended family throughout the NPY region. I am looking forward to the genuine partnership that Empowered Communities will create between Indigenous people and governments. I see this chance for real change.

CHRIS INGREY

Inner Sydney

The recent participation of the younger generation in the La Perouse Aboriginal community has been inspiring to me. I believe my community is in a great position to continue to work towards exercising self-determination and develop health, education, housing and employment opportunities into the future. I see Empowered Communities as the vehicle that will drive this development in Inner Sydney.

I am of Dharawal (Botany Bay and Illawarra, New South Wales) and Dhungutti (Macleay Valley, New South Wales) descent and my work as the CEO of the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council means I am very involved in my community. I am excited about what is coming with Empowered Communities; I am excited that our community will get a say in our future.

DENISE BOWDEN

North East Arnhem Land

I am a born-and-bred Northern Territory Indigenous woman. I have a background working in Indigenous affairs in very remote Australia and currently work with the Yolngu of North East Arnhem Land, as the CEO of the Yothu Yindi Foundation and the Director of the annual Garma Festival.

I aspire to create a future where Indigenous Australians have the same level of wellbeing, life opportunities and choices as non-Indigenous Australians. I believe that Empowered Communities has the potential to create this change by focusing on education, economic development and increased wellbeing through a grassroots, upward, regionally specific approach.

FIONA JOSE

Cape York

My grandfather’s country is Kuku Yalanji and my grandmother is from the Torres Strait. My father and our family spent most of our younger years growing up in the Miallo/Cooya Beach region. Most of my adult life, I have worked hard to bridge the unemployment gap through enabling Indigenous people to have the capabilities needed to gain meaningful employment in any industry. I have a passion for education and know that a quality education for our young people will set them up for a better future.

It’s been a privilege for me as one of the next generation of Indigenous leaders to be working with leaders of Empowered Communities. The strength and example of our old people and elders in Cape York and their triumphs give me the courage to do what’s needed by focusing on individuals and families and working at a regional level to achieve outcomes that give people a life they will value.

IAN TRUST

National Chair Empowered Communities

For most of my life, I have been based in the East Kimberley and I currently serve as the chairman and executive director of Wunan Foundation. I have an exciting vision of a better future for Aboriginal people in the East Kimberley—a future beyond welfare and government dependency.

In the past, I have worked to progress this vision through initiatives like the ATSIC Regional Council’s ‘future building’ strategy and through reforms in the Aboriginal housing and infrastructure sector. I see Empowered Communities as the structure that will break the cycle of passive welfare dependancy and create fundamental change in my community and other communities across Australia.

ANTHONY WATSON

West Kimberley

Anthony Watson is the Chair of the Kimberley Land Council – a not-for-profit organisation assisting Aboriginal people to achieve native title recognition, and care for and manage country in the West Kimberley.  

Mr Watson is a Nyikina man with strong ties to his people and culture. He started work as a station hand, before moving on to employment with Jarlmadangah Burru community.

Over the  past 30 years, Mr Watson has co-founded and chaired the suicide and self-harm prevention initiative the Yirriman Project, held leadership roles with a number of peak Indigenous organisations and tirelessly contributed to the national conversation on Indigenous land management, native title and community development.

 

 

NOEL PEARSON

Cape York

My father’s country is Bagaarrmugu on south-eastern Cape York and my mother’s people are Kuku Yalanji. I have spent my adult life working for the future of my people in Cape York Peninsula.

Since the early 2000s, I have been part of policy development and conceptual thinking on the need for reform of the Australian welfare system, and the need for those trapped in passive welfare to shift from passivity to responsibility. I have been working collaboratively with the other Empowered Communities regions since 2013 on articulating – and now implementing – the architecture that will enable communities to decide their own futures—to ensure that culture, language and tradition have their place within socially and economically developed communities, and that each community can have its say in the direction it takes.

PAUL BRIGGS

Goulburn Murray

I am a Yorta Yorta man who was raised on the banks of the Dungala at Cummeragunja. I understand the aspirations of the great Yorta Yorta leaders who came off Cummera to advocate the rights of our people. For me it has been natural to advocate for a more prosperous future, protecting the rights of Yorta Yorta people and other Aboriginal nations.

Since the early 1970s, I have been active in Aboriginal rights and advancement of our people. Starting with my experiences trying to negotiate the criminal justice system, I could see that to make a genuine difference in the lives of our young people required us to move beyond the cycle of bureaucracy and crisis intervention to building a real vision of a positive future for our community. For me, Empowered Communities is an opportunity to negotiate a shared vision for the future of an inclusive and respectful Australian society, including in my region of Goulburn-Murray.

VICKIE PARRY

Central Coast

I am a proud Gomeroi woman from Moree NSW. I moved to the Central Coast with my family when she was just a little girl. I am a powerful advocate for Aboriginal people through my work, participation and involvement in my local community. My primary focus is to empower Aboriginal people through access, education, training, employment and participation. We are working very hard with our community to drive real change on the Coast.

I am the Executive Director of Barang Regional Alliance; the Empowered Communities backbone here on the Central Coast. I am the current Co-Chair of the New South Wales Coalition of Regional Alliances. I have also been the Chairperson of Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services for over 8 years.

SHANE PHILLIPS

Inner Sydney

I was born and raised on The Block. After the death of a teenager at the hands of the police in the Redfern riots in 2004, I wanted change. I became heavily involved in my community and wanted more for my people.

Through my work at the Tribal Warrior Association, I have seen the Redfern Aboriginal community make so much progress. Through Empowered Communities, however, I believe that by forming an alliance with LaPa and coming together as the Inner Sydney region, we have the ability to change even more lives. I believe in the strength of our communities and the importance of being involved in my community. I am a life member of the Redfern All Blacks Rugby League Club and coordinator of the monthly Family Day on The Block.

DES HILL

East Kimberley

Des Hill is a Miriuwung man and has worked for several local organisations in the East Kimberley over many years.

Des is currently Chairperson of Binarri-binyja Yarrawoo, Chief Executive Officer of Waringarri Aboriginal Corporation and Director at the Ord Valley Aboriginal Health Service. He was previously the chairperson of MG Corporation, on the board of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service Ltd, and worked for the Kimberley Land Council.

Des is the Empowered Communities Leader in the East Kimberley region.

 

KATHY RIGNEY

Lower River Murray and Coorong

I am a Ngarrindjeri woman who was born in Bordertown and grew up in Adelaide. I returned to my country to raise my family. I am a quiet achiever. I have worked for 28 years with youth and their families at risk within the child protection system. 

I am passionate about the rights of Aboriginal people and currently work as a Senior Aboriginal Advisor with ac.care where my role is to develop strategies to recruit and retain Aboriginal staff. 

I am a member of the National Aboriginal Consultancy Group for Emerging Minds and the current Chair of the Ngarrindjeri Ruwe Empowered Communities and Empowered Communities Leader in the region.