Our Board

Susan Sewter – Director QLD

Susan Sewter is a Lardil woman from Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria with ties to Waanyi and Gangalidda on the mainland.

The mother of 4 daughters and grandmother to 7. Susan grew up in Burketown, Cloncurry, Quamby and a few short years in Mt. Isa. At 16 she went to Brisbane for TAFE and was lucky enough to land her first job travelling to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities with a Hearing Team. This was a fantastic experience for a 17 year old.

This experience set the foundations for a life of community based work. In the 90’s Susan became a teacher through the Remote Area Teacher Program delivered by James Cook University. After many years of teaching Susan wanted a change and ran for the local Council elections and was lucky enough to be elected to the Mayor position.

Four years of hard work through a rough period of Local Government Reform provided Susan with the drive to find avenues for community to engage more with Governement, Funding Bodies and Service Providers. We started the dialogue with the three levels of Government to establish a partnership with the Mornington Island community to enable us to determine the appropriate services for our community.

It was also through this period as Mayor that Susan saw the Health of Mornington Island as a maze where our people were just going around and around. This is when she decided that in order for our people to be engaged in Education, Employment, Healthy Homes and Family and community activities that we need to have our people healthy – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The past 15 years Health has been at the forefront of her life through the establishment of the Mornington Island Health Council.

Currently, Susan is involved part-time with the local Cultural Centre ensuring that our cultural practices are embedded in the services provided on the Island. Susan has spent the past 30+ years working toward improving our lives on Mornington Island through many forums. Susan is proud to have been a part of the advocacy to have Community Controlled Health Services in the Gulf region – a struggle of 15 years.

Christine Ross – Chairperson WA

Christine is an Arrernte/ Kaytetye desert woman born in Alice Springs, she grew up in Darwin and moved to Perth in 2002.

Christine is Managing Director of her own Consultancy specialising in Indigenous Employment Programs, Facilitating Indigenous Conferences, Events and Forums. She is able to deliver Diverse Training Programs including Mentoring.

Through her Consultancy work Christine was the Project Manager of the National NAIDOC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Conference titled ‘Because of Her, We Can’ 11 – 12 July 2018, held at UNSW in Sydney.

Christine has organised several International Women’s Day Events in Perth showcasing the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women.
She is Passionate about securing real employment opportunities for Aboriginal people, she was seconded by Crown Limited to develop their first Aboriginal Employment Program. Two years later, Crown won the ‘2010 Diversity at Work Award’ and are now seen as a ‘Best Practice’ employer.
As a high-profile Aboriginal spokesperson, she has been invited to share her experience and expertise on many Boards, Committees and a Keynote Speaker at numerous National and International Conferences.

With many years spent working for the Department of Education Training in WA, Christine co-wrote the DET’s Aboriginal Employment Strategy and assisted many Aboriginal people with employment and career advancement.

Christine lectured at Murdoch University, worked for the Department of Justice and was the GM of the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association.

Christine has strong experience working in key Indigenous Roles in the Resource Sector WA. She was the Founder and Convenor of the Inaugural Indigenous Woman in Mining Conference in 2012 -now held annually as well as the Convenor of the Inaugural Indigenous Australians in the Resource Sector Forum 2014.

Anna Strzelecki – Treasurer SA

Qualification
Bachelor of Business (Administrative Management)

Experience
Anna, a Kokatha woman, is the interim Director for South Australia. She is an Aboriginal Student Engagement officer at the University of South Australia. She has extensive knowledge and experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, particularly in relation to education at all levels. Anna has a comprehensive understanding of departmental and business protocols with a long history at working with government agencies at all levels.

Along with her extensive history in implementing, managing and auditing Commonwealth government programs involving education and employment, she has a passion for improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Bianca Templar – Secretary TAS

Bianca Templar, 24 from Tasmania is a Young activist and traditional and contemporary artist. Bianca is a proud pakana woman whose grandmother was raised on Cape Barren Island – off the North East tip of Tasmania

At the age of 14, Bianca was chosen by the Elders Council of Tasmania, to produce the documentary, “The Island Music”. This involved going to Cape Barren Island to learn about life on the islands from her elders. A year later, this documentary was nominated for an Australian Teachers of Media award.

Bianca has completed a Bachelor of Social Work in 2016. While studying, she taught Tasmanian Aboriginal History at the University of Tasmania, and in primary schools through the Aboriginal Education Department. Since finishing her tertiary studies, Bianca has been working with her community as an Aboriginal Pathways Planner and currently works as a social and emotional wellbeing officers for aboriginal youth.

Continually, Bianca was one of 50 young aboriginal people chosen to represent Tasmania at the National Indigenous Youth Parliament. Furthermore, Bianca was selected as a Tasmanian delegate to attend the Treaty conference and street march in Sydney in 2018.

Bianca has also been finalist for Tasmanian Aboriginal Young Achiever award for the past three years as well as finalist for Tasmania’s Young Leader of the Year. Bianca has spent her young life advocating for the rights for the rights of first nations people, liaising with government to advocate for her community. Bianca strongly believes in the power of the grass roots level, which also revolves around respect, communication and self-determination.

Karin Williams – Director VIC

Karin Williams is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman from the Bindal and Juru people, Darnley (Erub) and Murray (Mer) Islands in the Torres Strait along with strong family connections to Cherbourg in Queensland. She was born in Charleville and grew up in Bundaberg Queensland.

In 1985, Karin made the decision to move to Melbourne, where her chosen field of study was as an Aboriginal Health Worker at Koori Kollij.

During her time in Melbourne Karin met her partner Reg Thorpe and where they currently continue to live and have two daughters and a granddaughter.

Karin commenced working at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Services (VAHS) in June 1986 as an Aboriginal Health Worker and Senior Aboriginal Health Worker where she provided over 18 years of continuous service. Subsequently Karin, left VAHS for 3 years and returned as the Coordinator for the Women and Children’s program for couple of years and then transferred back into the Medical Area as the Clinical Coordinator and Manager for 12 months.

For the last years Karin has worked and continues to work as a Koori Youth Justice Worker at Bert Williams Aboriginal Youth Centre, a program of Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited.

Karin has been on the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service Board for the past seven years where she has held the position of Chair, Deputy Chair and Board Member.

Other Boards that Karin has served on include Yappera Children’s Service, Fitzroy Stars Gymnasium, Melbourne Aboriginal Youth Sport and Recreation, Koorie Diabetes Services, Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, Melbourne Stars Basketball Club.

Karin has been a representative for Victoria on the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance board of directors since November 2013.

In Karin’s spare time as volunteers she has been actively involved in junior sporting carnivals for many years, with raising funds, organizing, training, providing transport and supervision of young people.

Bronwyn Penrith – Director NSW

Bronwyn Penrith is a widely respected Aboriginal Woman who has been has a lifelong commitment and engagement with her Community. She holds the Family responsibilities of a Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother, and is a recognised kinship Carer. Alongside her lived experience Bronwyn has pursued a role in Private Business and is the Senior Director of a private company who are resisted with Supply Nation.

Bronwyn experience in the NGO sector includes Chairperson of Mudgin-Gal Aboriginal Women Centre in Chippendale and a Director of the Redfern Foundation Ltd. She is also a past member of a number Women representatives on local, state and National levels, plus the City of Sydney Aboriginal Advisory Council.

Bronwyn is a trained facilitator experienced in Community education workshops, cultural awareness and mentoring training. She is a skilled mediator and a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, of long standing, with the Australian Government Department of the Attorney General. And on the NSW legal aid Mediators Panel, in family law and including Care & Protection Mediation. In Addition to her employment experience, Bronwyn’s qualifications include a Diploma in Business: Indigenous Governance, Mentoring in Diversity and Project Management Much of her works is in a voluntary capacity and She has recently been recognised for her voluntary delivery of series of Lateral Violence Workshops at the Women Centre.

Bronwyn is the Chair of the SevenSisters of NCOSS, a group formed from around the NSW set up inform NCOSS and Government on issues impacting on Aboriginal Women and our NSW Communities. She is a member of the NSW Women Legal Resource Centre Aboriginal Women Network.

Bronwyn is a member of the Leadership group for “Building Better Lives for Ourselves’. Conference of 100 A&TSI Women and been invited to continue to participate with that Group of Aboriginal as well as facilitate on the Program. She is on a journey of Reclaiming Culture, through language, and Cultural Practice.

Bronwyn led the Making of a Possum Skin Cloak at Mudgin-gal Women Centre the first made by local community Aboriginal Women in 200 years. Bronwyn has been featured in ‘The Redfern Story’ a documentary, tracing the History of the Modern Aboriginal Movement through the lens of the National Black theatre. Bronwyn is an avid reader and likes to stay up to date with current politics.

Karen Parter – Deputy Chair ACT

Karen is Program Manager for The Smith Family in Canberra. Prior to this, she worked for a decade in the not-for-profit sector with an Aboriginal employment and training business working with government, corporate and not-for-profit sectors, and previous to that, two years as an adviser with Reconciliation Australia. Karen also brings a wealth of experience in the public sector from nearly two decades with the Queensland Public Sector.

Karen is a Kalkadoon woman who was born and raised on her ancestral lands in north-west Queensland. Her culture is at the heart of everything she does, and she is passionate about working with other Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders to overcome social, cultural and economic barriers. Karen has a record of success in supporting others to achieve significant life outcomes.

A graduate of Deakin University in Victoria, Karen brings her knowledge, experience and passion to children, young people and families and in the process, supports strengths-based approaches to health, education, parenting and family support.

Tanya Nasir – Director NT

Tanyah is a Garrawa, Djugun-Yawuru woman born and raised in Darwin. She is a descendant of the Stolen Generation’s history and also has links to Tiwi people. Tanyah is an Aboriginal educator who has worked across the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. She has 30 years’ experience as a teacher, program developer and deliverer, lecturer and trainer and more recently educational facilitator.

Tanyah is passionate about empowering Indigenous Australians to see themselves as competent and confident contributors to society., She has always worked in the Indigenous context and she acknowledges and advocates the need for change and most importantly implicitly understands the approach and methodology required to achieve outstanding engagement, outcomes and success. She has extensive and relevant experience in working in the Indigenous education, employment and training arena as well as remote context and she is passionate about making a difference.

Tanyah owns and manages her own business and is the founder of the Rise UP Program, Be your Best, Own your future © an Indigenous empowerment and social transformational change program. The philosophy of Tanyah’s business is to build confidence and belief in self to develop the empowering thinking and pathways to ensure Indigenous people create the life they want.

Patricia Waria-Read – Director SA

My traditional Ngadjuri lands are in the Mid-North of SA, and I have cultural links to the Nurrungga people of Yorke Peninsula, Permak people in the Riverland and with the Raukkan community in the Murraylands.

In my role as a community leader I work extensively within the diversity of the Aboriginal communities, having a deep understanding of the wide range of social issues faced by our communities.

My life-time purpose is to be active in advocating for the rights of my people, and to ensure that we have tenure over own lives. I have lived experienced in the struggles that we have to attend to over the years, in education, health, housing, and social justice. I consider myself a trailblazer, respectful and honest with all individuals who have walked with me through-out my life. It is important of me to participate in the planning practices in the delivery of culturally appropriate programs that will successful fostering self-help and self-determination, and to evaluate the obstacles that affect our Aboriginal communities and our families.

With the increase of Aboriginal people, (men, women and children) who are incarcerated in the criminal justice system, my main concerns is the effects of incarceration on their emotional health and well-being and the outreaching heartache it has on our families and community. My aim is to address the injustices that occur to women in prison, advocating for support with their medical matters, legal and family issues, addressing the effects on their well-being and resilience. I follow through with their matters to the appropriate Service Agencies and Ministers in South Australia and Canberra.

In my life journeys I have travel extensively throughout South Australia and the Northern Territory, and have worked with Aboriginal people in remote, country and urban areas, which has enabled me to connect with different groups, giving me insight into the diversity of what our communities have to deal with. Because of these links to our Aboriginal communities I have established personal relationships with many Aboriginal Elders and families’ through-out SA Aboriginal communities.

My field of employment is wide, beginning as transport driver for the Aboriginal Health Clinic at Davenport Community and proceeding into Support Worker for Aboriginal women in DV situations in Pt Augusta; moving into Adelaide to upgrade my education, which lead me into working with Aboriginal offenders within the prison systems.

My interactions with my people have always been to work directly with Aboriginal community members, specifically with women and families to implement a process where projects were developed from the ground upwards and are culturally sensitive that would lead our women to re-establish themselves back into our community, and reconnecting to family.

From 2006 I was employed with Aboriginal Prisoners Offenders Support Service, then moved in 2016 into employment with Department of Correctional Services as Aboriginal Liaison Officer and then as a Program Officer, leaving that employment in 2019. I now volunteer in the Nunga Court Port Adelaide and Adelaide Magistrate Court as a Respect Elder, and work with Margie Callaghan in the Salt & Pepper Outreach Team supporting Aboriginal in prison and on their release.

I will continue to advance the needs of our Aboriginal women offenders by negotiating with Service Agencies, Aboriginal organisations and Government Departments for better outcomes for our women and families.

Jessica Bennett – Director VIC

Jessica Bennett is a proud Ngunnawal woman who grew up on Wiradjuri country in Albury NSW.

In 2017 she moved to Melbourne to study a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Human Rights and Indigenous Cultures & Histories at Monash University, which she is currently still completing. She also works part time in the Monash Student Association as an Indigenous Student Office-Bearer and as a Programs Coordinator at the Korin Gamadji Institute which is based at Richmond Football Club.

Jessica is passionate about human rights and social justice, education and young people and is determined to have a career where she can make the quality of life better for other people.

Beverly Collins – Director NSW

Beverly Collins is a Bundjalung woman from Casino in Northern NSW a mother of two, five grannies and one great granny. After raising her babies, Beverly started working as a cleaner at Buyinbin Aboriginal Corporation, she then moved onto working at a local nursing home, after this, she took the opportunity at Bulgarr Ngaru Medical Aboriginal Corporation Richmond Valley in a health worker position, she has now completed her Cert IV in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice and is now one of two qualified Aboriginal Health Practitioners working at BNAMCRV.

Beverly is passionate about working with Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander people to address the Health, social and economic barriers.

Beverly is active in her community and really looking forward to being involved in NATSIWA supporting Aboriginal women not just in her own community, but throughout Australia.

Regina Turner – Treasurer TSI

Qualification: Diploma of Government

Regina Turner is a proud Zenadth Kes, sol-wata Ipikaziw/Kosker (Torres Strait Islander, saltwater woman), a descendant from Mabuyag & Mer, her people are the Waggadugam, Daurareb and Wuthathi (Cape York Aboriginal) clans.

Living on an isolated island community, Hammond Island, in the Torres Strait, with a population of approximately 350 people, there is limited access to services and employment opportunities.

Regina and her husband co-founded their family owned ‘creative industries’ enterprise. As an indigenous small business owner, she believes creating self-employment in remote communities will help alleviate social, emotional, health and family wellbeing issues through traditional cultural and creative arts industries.

In 2010, Regina was elected as President of Mura Kosker Sorority (All Women Sisters) Inc, Torres Strait Islands peak women’s organisation based on Thursday Island, which aims to reverse the levels of disadvantage for women, children and their families.

She encourages ‘good practice and transparent’ governance as a board of director, encompassing self-determination, building a resilient and sustainable ‘community controlled and owned’ organisation, that champions ‘women supporting women’.

With over 20 years’ experience in education and training sector, she is an Alumni of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation Program, affirming personal and professional development benefits indigenous communities.

Her favorite past time is working with her creative arts partner, socialising with people, volunteering her time to community groups and immersing herself with loved ones.