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2023 national closing the gap FOR


guest speakers

Please note this website is continually being updated.

Joanne O'Malley
Manager, Strategic Projects

Jo is the Manager Strategic Projects with TAFE Digital. Jo manages a number of projects, including the EarTrain contract, a national program, delivered by TAFE Digital, funded by Department of Health and supported by Hearing Australia. A collaborative project, with stakeholders representing Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organisations, Primary Health Networks, and community organisations, the program was launched to support ‘closing the gap’ by providing better access to health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Jo started with TAFE NSW in 1997, and left in 2018 for 3 years to work with a NFP Charity supporting health initiatives in rural, remote and Aboriginal communities in NSW. Jo returned to TAFE NSW in 2021, and commenced managing EarTrain from February 2022.

Pamela A Trotman
Director - Private Practice
Accredited Mental Health Social Worker 
Pamela Trotman Counselling & Consulting Pty Ltd nt

Pamela is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, now in her 54th year of practice.  Much of that time has been working directly & indirectly with Aboriginal clients, communities, and organisations. She is also a survivor of multiple traumas beginning with child sexual abuse between the ages of five and seven.  Her healing journey began in her mid-teens when she decided she wanted to find a way of living and being which was different to her mother’s emotional, spiritual, and verbal violence.  Her exposure to trauma in her personal life, and her work with other trauma survivors, culminated in the writing of the book Triumphing Over Trauma – Journeys Beyond Woundedness (2020). The book names and describes seven different forms of emotional/spiritual wounding which often impede a person’s capacity to heal and recover from trauma.  Pamela’s contribution to the social work profession around Reconciliation has been recognised in the awarding of the NT Mary Moylan Social Worker of the Year Award (2010) and life membership of the AASW.  She is a published author in Reconciliation and Strengths-Based practice. Pamela is committed to acknowledging and respecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of Being, Knowing and Doing. 


Dr Joseph Fleming
Casual Academic - NIKERI
Deakin University VIC


Joseph is a qualified registered mental health social worker, counsellor/therapist and experienced group facilitator. Joseph has been working for over 25 years in government and non-government settings, including managing and supervising counsellors for several years. As an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker (AMHSW) Joseph is a recognised provider with Medicare Australia and other programs, delivering clinical social work services in mental health settings and utilising a range of evidence-based strategies. Working with people across the lifespan, from children through to adults and older persons, Joseph can provide a unique contribution to the mental health space in a holistic approach. The advanced training that is expected to maintain AMHSW status prepares and provides Joseph the skills to work with people with very complex presentations and co-morbidities.


Toni L. Smith

Principal Female Aboriginal Health Worker

Domestic Violence & Women’s Health

Sydney Local Health District nsw

Toni is a ‘Gadigal’ born woman with ‘Yuin’ ancestry. She has lived and worked in her local Aboriginal community, Redfern for many years. Toni is the Principal Female Aboriginal Health Worker in Domestic Violence & Women’s Health (Community Health Specialist Services, SLHD RPAH). Toni is an experienced Registered Nurse, graduating from The University of Sydney in 1995. She has worked for NSW Health in identified positions including Aboriginal Education Officer, Promotions Officer, Project Officer and Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer across St. George and The Sutherland Hospitals. Toni has worked with her local Aboriginal community as the Camps and Conferences Manager at the National Indigenous Centre of Excellence (NCIE) and the Redfern PCYC. Toni was granted the ‘Equity Challenge’ of $10,000 to begin her project “Tidda-Links” (Linking Sisters), her first project when newly appointed in her role at Sydney Local Health District.

Harry Callaghan    

Cultural Wellbeing Clinician    

Creating Links nsw

Harry is a proud Aboriginal man with strong family connections to the Dunghutti, Biripi, Worimi and Gumbaingirr tribal areas. Prior to working at Creating Links, Harry worked as the Senior Aboriginal Health Worker with the Closing The Gap team at South Western Sydney Local Health District, based at Liverpool Hospital, Cultural Support Coordinator for Life Without Barriers and Aboriginal Team Advisor with the Intensive Supervision program based in Western Sydney.

Kelli Owen    
National Community Engagement Coordinator     
National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce vic

Kelli is a Kaurna, Narungga & Ngarrindjeri woman and mother of five. She is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the National Indigenous Kidney Transplantation Taskforce (NIKTT) and is responsible for leading several community-focused initiatives. These include: establishment of Indigenous Reference Groups in five transplant units across Australia; development of a national educational directory capturing tailored resources for Indigenous kidney transplant candidates and their families; and management of the NIKTT’s National Indigenous Kidney Community Panel, which offers an outlet for members to share their stories and provide feedback on the NIKTT’s current projects and future directions. In addition, Kelli is a member of South Australia’s AKction (Aboriginal Kidney Care Together - Improving Outcomes Now) team, which aim’s it is to identify and respond to the needs of Aboriginal Kidney patients and their families. Kelli’s contribution to the NIKTT and AKction is enhanced by her lived experience of kidney failure. After undergoing several years of peritoneal & haemodialysis treatment, Kelli received a donated kidney in May 2016. Her firsthand knowledge of the kidney transplant journey, coupled with her Bachelor of Education and Master of Indigenous Language Education degrees, underpin her engagement with Indigenous communities and help to facilitate positive relationships between health professionals, patients and their families.

Dr. Neeraj Vyas
Oral Surgery Registrar
Nepean Centre for Oral Health, University of Sydney nsw

Neeraj completed his undergraduate dentistry training at Griffith University where he was involved in various oral health initiatives and rural high school visits in southeast Queensland and the Northern Territory. He has since worked primarily in the public sector in New South Wales at the Sydney Dental Hospital, Westmead Centre for Oral Health and in the Awabakal Medical Service. Currently, Neeraj is a registrar at Nepean Hospital completing specialty training in Oral Surgery and has a strong interest in playing a role in Closing the Gap in Indigenous Australian Health.

Tanya Druce
paediatric Speech Pathologist
Manager, Wilim Berrbang Aboriginal Health Unit 
Western Health Victoria

Tanya is a proud Wiradjuri woman whose family hail from Wellington, NSW.  She is a paediatric Speech Pathologist who worked for many years in both  tertiary hospital and community health settings before moving into management of child health teams and Aboriginal health teams.  Tanya values communication, service and fairness in her work with patients and their families. She is currently the Manager of Wilim Berrbang, the Aboriginal Health Unit of Western Health in Victoria.

Aunty Jenny Springham
Aboriginal Elder of the Gurang Clan
Healing Circle Work Facilitator QLD

Aunty Jenny is an Australian Aboriginal Elder of the Gurang clan/family with more than three decades’ experience in Governance & Management in the sectors of health & wellbeing, child & family, and education. Aunty Jenny holds a Bachelor of Arts in Adult Education & Community Development, an Associate Diploma in Aboriginal Studies and Certificate IV in Aboriginal Health. She has been a Healing Circle Work Facilitator for almost eight years, working with men and women experiencing the impacts of Lateral Violence, intergenerational trauma and substance abuse. She advocates for the rights of women with a focus on the areas of policy, decision-making and governance. As part of this commitment, Aunty Jenny sits on the Board of Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) Indigenous Wellbeing Centre (IWC) Ltd in Central Queensland, and is a member of the IWC Cultural Advisory Council. Aunty Jenny also sits on the Elders’ Council of the Port Curtis Coral Coast (PCCC), which represents the  Bailai, Gurang, Gooreng Gooreng and Taribelang Bunda peoples. 

Dr Mark J Lock, Ngiyampaa Academic
Co-Leader, First Nations Research Team
Aboriginal Community Matters Advisory Group
NSW Health Education Centre Against Violence

Mark is a descendent of the Ngiyampaa people (a tribe of First Nations Australians), English and Scottish Convicts on the First Fleet (the Lucas Clan), Latvian immigrants, and Australian free colonists. Mark founded Committix Pty Ltd to lead his research agenda for cultural safety research and evaluation through the lens of governance and the public administration in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy as shown in Aboriginal Cultural Safety and Security Framework, the Annual Critique of Cultural Safety in Australian academic journal articles, and the bimonthly Australian Cultural Safety & Security News.  

Tim Croft, MPH, B.App. Sci (Physiotherapy)
Manager Aboriginal Health Unit SESLHD
South Eastern Sydney Local Health District NSW

Tim has worked across the across the public and the private health sectors for 20 years. Tim has been Manager of Aboriginal Health South Eastern Sydney Local Health District since 2016, then has also recently been a health researcher and previously an allied health clinician. He has been involved in research on capacity building in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector; the Research Excellence in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (REACCH) evaluation and has directed a review of the ACT Health Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Model of Care. He is currently involved in research for Aboriginal Carers and a Data Governance protocol for Aboriginal research and is a member of the Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise Clinical Academic Group; Maridulu Budyari Gumal. In the last 15 years he has also been a board member in Aboriginal community organisations; the Lloyd McDermot Rugby Development Team and more recently as chair of First Hand Solutions, which is responsible for the Blak Markets and Indigigrow

Uncle Ara (Julga) Harathunian
Managing Director
Kultchafi QLD

Uncle Ara has just over 40 years of professional experience in Governance Eldership/Leadership and Management in many fields of endeavour.  His interests lie in health, youth, education, Aboriginal Affairs, Mediation, Reconciliation in Action, Restorative Justice, Lateral Violence, Community Development, Workplace Dynamics, Mentoring, Research, Aboriginal Terms of Reference, Aboriginal Spirituality and Indigenous Wellbeing and Wellness Paradigms.   He is a Director on several Indigenous and non-Indigenous Boards and Chairperson of Lonweigh Aboriginal Corporation. 

Ara has an Armenian Heritage and has Aboriginal family connections to the Minniecon, Lingwoodock and Wenitongs and the Torres Strait through the Ghee’s and Wares and Skin connections to Wongi and Martu People of Western Australia.  He has achieved professional success in business, and community development. In his professional career, his achievements include developing and implementing a Transformational Management Model underpinned by the Cultural Philosophical Ethos Theory that was developed by his wife, Aunty Cheri Yingaa Yavu-Kama-Harathunian, and the development of Kultchafi Cultural Responsiveness Training Package, Healing Circle Work, Gentle Footprints and Cultural Responsiveness Organisational Pulse.

Jesse Butler                                     

QLD Program Manager

Starlight Children's Foundation



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