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2018 Indigenous Women's Conference



Aunty Jeanette Singleton

Traditional Elder

 Yirrganydji Gurabana Aboriginal Corporation QLD


Aunty Jeanette Singleton is a Yirrganydji woman from Yorkeys Knob and a respected traditional elder of the Yirrganydji people. Aunty Jeanette has been extensively involved as a leader within the indigenous affairs of Far North Queensland and served as chair of the Irukandji Aboriginal Corporation, Yirrganydji Gurabana Aboriginal Corporation as well as Director of Cairns District Regional Housing.

Lidia Thorpe

Member for Northcote

Victorian Greens Spokesperson for Indigenous Affairs VIC

Lidia Thorpe is a Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman living on Wurundjeri Country in South Preston. She is the State Member for Northcote and the Victorian Greens spokesperson for Indigenous Affairs, Sport, Skills and Training, Consumer Affairs and Mental Health. After leaving school at 14 and furthering her education at Preston and Epping TAFEs, Lidia has become a public education advocate, served on the Smith Family’s National Advisory Board, and managed a business providing sustainable housing for Indigenous communities. Lidia was also Chair of the Victorian NAIDOC Committee. Lidia received the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership Award in 2008 and was appointed to the Bairnsdale Regional Health Board and the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust. As an environmentalist, Lidia led a successful campaign against the eastern gas pipeline to save Nowa Nowa Gorge in East Gippsland.



Aunty Cheri Yavu-Kama-Harathunian

Director/Chaplain, Cultural Consultant, Theta Healing Practitioner

Indigenous Wellbeing Centre QLD


Aunty Cheri Yavu-Kama-Harathunian holds a Master's Degree in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Indigenous and Community Health as well as Certificates in Small Business Development and Minister of Religion. She is a member of State and Local Social Justice Committees related to her portfolios and serves as a Director of several not-for profit Aboriginal organisations. Aunty Cheri along with her husband, Uncle Ara developed and implemented the Transformational Management Model that frames all operations of IWC, a non-profit Aboriginal organization that provides centralised management and administration across 27 programs. In 2013, Aunty Cheri was awarded the International Professional of the Year for Spiritual and Social Services by the World Wide Who’s Who.  In 2016, IWC awarded her the Prestigious Ambassadorial Award for her Professional Leadership Integrity. In her spare time, Aunty Cheri studies ancient Greek and Hebrew languages to better understand sacred writings.  She says her greatest achievement has been to raise her two children to become social and cultural activists for Aboriginal aspirations, who are contributing members to society and the Aboriginal communities, in which they live.


Wendy Watego

Co-Founder and National Program Director

STARS Institute of Learning and Leadership QLD 


Wendy Watego Mother’s Mob are Goenpil, Nughie, Noonuccal people from Minjerribah – North Stradbroke Island – which is part of the Quandamooka Nation in Moreton Bay, off the coast of South East Queensland. Her Dad’s family are Aboriginal and proud South Sea Islanders from New Caledonia. Wendy became the first Aboriginal person to chair the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Standing Committee of the Queensland Teachers Union.  After a fortuitous meeting with Vicki Scott at an Indigenous Women’s Leadership Conference they realised their common vision of empowering individuals – especially Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders – and together in 2008 formed STARS.  As national program director for STARS Institute, Wendy designs and delivers the STARS programs and they are mind blowing.  The programs are dynamic and you literally shift your thinking and your life out of the box of limitations and into the world of what is possible.




Vicki Scott

Leadership Coach, Author and Co-Founder

STARS Institute of Learning and Leadership QLD 


Vicki Scott is co-author of “Out of the Box Thinking on Indigenous Leadership:  simple strategies to create an empowering future” and co-founder and executive director of the STARS Institute of Learning and Leadership, an educational organisation designed to empower people in Shaping Transforming And being Responsible for Self. In this role she coordinates coaching programs and delivers elements focused on the principles of project management and mentoring.  It’s a role for which she seemed destined after a long career orchestrating major national events.



Lauren Kinsella

Senior Project Officer, Indigenous and Rural Team

Cancer Australia NSW

Lauren Kinsella is a Senior Project Officer in the Indigenous and Rural team at Cancer Australia. In this role, Lauren has been involved in the development and implementation of many projects aimed at improving cancer outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This has included managing the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Framework project and developing resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners. Prior to joining Cancer Australia in 2012, Lauren worked in curriculum development at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in Darwin.

Tracy Smith

Midwife & Director

Youth & Family Education Resources NSW

Tracy Smith is a mother of three young women, passionate midwife and a Director at Youth & Family Education Resources where she co-designed and continues to work co-operating the Core of Life program – Pregnancy and Parenting education for adolescents and community. Tracy has been responsible for organising, co-ordinating and monitoring training workshops Nationally, strategically determining and instilling measures to sustain these programs in local communities and at all times monitoring and ensuring all training and education offered is culturally safe.



Deb Patrick

Midwife & Director

Youth & Family Education Resources NSW

Deb Patrick is a Registered Midwife, lives on the Central Coast of NSW and has a history of working with families within acute and community settings. Deb was a homebirth midwife for many years in NSW and Victoria, coordinated childbirth education classes, set up and coordinated outpatient lactation support services. Deb was one of the co-creators of the Core of Life program.




Kris (Angela) Roberts

Aboriginal Health Worker

Jullums Aboriginal Medical Service NSW

Kris Roberts is a Bundjalung woman within the Widjubul Nation.  Kris has worked for many years in Aboriginal Health in community settings, and is a passionate about strengthening health and wellbeing in her community. Kris is currently working as an Aboriginal Health Worker supporting Maternal and Infant Health programs at Jullums Aboriginal Medical Service in Lismore, Northern NSW.




Jessica (Jess) Simms 

Maternal and Infant Project Officer

North Coast Primary Health Network NSW

Jess Simms is a registered midwife who has worked for fifteen years in the Northern NSW region. Over this time, she has worked in midwifery private practice supporting women to birth at home, in hospital settings, midwifery tertiary education, research and capacity building projects supporting an Aboriginal maternity service.  Jess is currently loving her role as Maternal and Infant Project Officer in Aboriginal Health at the North Coast Primary Health Network.

Serena Williams

Program Manager & Ngunawwal Wiradjuri Woman

Women's Legal Centre ACT & Region

Serena Williams is a Ngunnawal Wiradjuri leader who has worked with communities across Australia on issues, respecting protocols and engaging with communities on difficult issues such as family violence. She has worked for a range of organisations like Aboriginal Hostels Limited and Lifeline Australia, and a range of other organisations. She currently heads WLC's Access to Justice Program.





Kath Taplin

Senior Solicitor - Access to Justice program

Women's Legal Centre ACT & Region

Kath Taplin is the Senior Solicitor on the Access to Justice program, who works closely with Serena to ensure genuine, culturally appropriate legal solutions to women who need them. She has worked for two decades in NGOs, government and the private sector, including extensive work with communities in the region. 

Margaret Saunders


Deadly Thinking Program QLD

Margaret identifies as a descendent of the Wiradjuri People in Central New South Wales through her father. Margaret’s mother is non – Indigenous. Having completed both the ‘Deadly Thinking’ program and ‘Train the Trainer’ several times over, Margaret build on her existing communication and presentation skills to become an outstanding presenter of ‘Deadly Thinking’ workshops. An Aboriginal woman with a large family, Margaret has a huge amount of empathy and can relate to many sensitive issues. She presents confidently, in an appropriate manner, thereby achieving successful results with workshop participants. Margaret has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander peoples in both Government and Non-Government sectors for many years. Margaret is conscious of cultural protocols at all times. She is discreet and maintains confidentiality when discussing sensitive issues with workshop participants. Margaret is currently a dedicated Deadly Thinking and Train the Trainer facilitator, traveling all over Australia and works by the philosophy that developing productive relationships can be achieved by being inclusive, approachable and openly sharing knowledge. Margaret’s skills in these areas are particularly effective when interacting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. She represents an excellent choice of Trainer to support and promote awareness and understanding of Aboriginal culture to the wider community.

Dr Nina Sivertsen                                     

Arctic Indigenous Sámi Woman Norway

University Lecturer, Flinders University SA

Dr Nina Sivertsen is an Arctic Indigenous Sámi woman from Northern Norway currently living and working on Kaurna Lands in Adelaide, South Australia. Nina is an RN and Lecturer with a commitment to social justice and advocacy with the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University. She has a strong presence within Indigenous health and women’s issues and works towards bringing together Indigenous health professionals from around the world to work towards an integrated approach to improving health care and health outcomes for all Indigenous people. Her research is internationally acknowledged as evidenced by her partnerships in Norway, Canada and Australia. Her work with Indigenous identity, nursing and midwifery in a socio-political context of assimilation and colonisation is the recipient of many awards and focuses on women’s empowerment and leadership, in particular within Indigenous health. She aims to contribute to the growing literature of Indigenous research by Indigenous researchers in a global perspective. Dr. Sivertsen is an active member of many community organisations and academic committees providing space for Indigenous voices within strategic planning, governance, and curriculum. She volunteers time to victim support work as well advocating towards putting consumers at the centre of health care. Her research interests include scholarship of teaching and learning, assessing and teaching cultural safety of future health professionals as well as exploring and working towards improving Indigenous and women’s health.

Cleone Wellington

Administration Manager

Waminda – South Coast Womens Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation


Cleone is an Aboriginal woman from the South Coast of NSW in the Yuin Nation. Her families are from local Aboriginal Communities Jerrinja and Wreck Bay in the Shoalhaven but she also have family connections all the way down the coast to the Victorian boarder. Cleone first started as a receptionist with Waminda in 2008. She is committed to and passionate about ensuring that the organisation follows cultural protocols throughout its service delivery so that our women and children are receiving services where we support them culturally and holistically on their journeys and about giving Aboriginal women a space and workplace with opportunities for professional growth, especially through first level entry employment.

Hayley Longbottom

Programs Manager

Waminda – South Coast Womens Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation

Hayley is the Senior Primary Health Care Worker at Waminda – South Coast Womens Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation - and has recently completed an Advanced Diploma of Leadership and Management. Hayley is a proud Wandian woman, from the Yuin nation, who grew up on the Jerrinja Aboriginal Community. She is Committed and Passionate about working with and for her people

Therese Kearns (TK)


Menzies School of Health Research QLD


Therese has been conducting research in rural and remote Aboriginal communities for almost 15 years. TK also has a strong track record in building research capacity within Menzies and in remote communities where she has trained and employed local community workers to be engaged in the research process.

Samantha Wild

Indigenous Digital Mental Health Service Integration and Development Coordinator

Queensland University of Technology

Samantha is a proud Wakka Wakka and South Sea Islander woman and draws from her own personal experiences of disadvantage health outcomes to influence and inspire change. Samantha is the Indigenous Digital Mental Health Service Integration and Development Coordinator at the Queensland University of Technology. She is also Director for her consultancy business Awakening Cultural Ways, focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy and program development in relation to social and emotional wellbeing, mental health and cultural healing frameworks.   Samantha is a member of the Queensland Mental Health and Alcohol and Drug Advisory Council and Director of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health.  Samantha has a strong interest in improving the health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth and advocating for trauma informed and cultural designed mental health care.  She has been committed to working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and affairs for the past decade. 

Desiree Hernandez Ibinarriaga

PhD Student & Social Designer   

Deakin University VIC/Mexico

Desiree Hernandez Ibinarriaga, industrial and social designer from Mexico, who is advocated to work with Indigenous peoples through the co-design field since 2010, acknowledging the importance of biocultural diversity, IEK towards resilience and sustainability. Currently studying her PhD in education at Deakin university in Australia working in Indigenous and Aboriginal young women empowerment through critical co-design.

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