National Indigenous No More Bars Justice Conference
Melissa Harrison is a Gunai woman from Victoria’s East Gippsland region. As a social welfare graduate Melissa’s career commenced in the criminal justice system working within community in Juvenile Justice and Child Protection in Gippsland. Later Melissa worked on the development of the Victorian Indigenous Family Violence Strategy.
Melissa’s passion for improved justice outcomes continued through her work with the Department of Justice under the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement. In 2006 she moved across to the City of Melbourne to develop Councils Indigenous Framework, encompassing social, cultural and reconciliation. During this time Melissa completed further postgraduate studies in Corporate Management focusing on Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour.
In 2010 Melissa returned to work in the community grass roots sector before establishing her own business and developing a cultural journey awareness education program. Melissa in 2010 received the Dardi Award for Outstanding Leadership receiving a scholarship with Melbourne Business School Asia Pacific Social Leadership Centre. Melissa is a member of the Victorian fellowship for Indigenous Leadership alumni in which she was a recipient of the award in 2012 allowing her to pursue her interest in mental health and the impact for carers.
Melissa joined Court Services Victoria in 2015 when she led the development of the Koori Employment Policy and now oversees the Koori Programs and Initiatives unit. Melissa lead the establishment of the Courts Koori Portfolio Committee, a committee that brings together judiciary, senior management and the Aboriginal community in meeting CSVs commitment of the Burra Lotjpa Dungulungja Aboriginal Justice Agreement 4. Melissa in her current role oversees a team that provides cultural support in the implementation of both criminal and civil Aboriginal based programs, along with cultural support to the Aboriginal workforce and Elders and Respected Persons of the Koori Court.
Qld State Manager
Family Drug Support
Chrissie Kelly is a highly experienced Community Services Professional specialising in the Alcohol and other Drugs and Mental Health sectors. She has an extensive career delivering Community Service qualifications in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, worked in a statutory role for the Department of Justice supporting vulnerable people and more recently has been working with families who are impacted by a family member of friends substance use. Chrissies passion is working with culturally diverse communities and in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples communities. Her son Jack is a Bidjarra/ Kara Kara man from central and central western Queensland.
Department of Youth Justice
Robert (Bob) Gee APM was appointed as Director-General for the Department of Youth Justice in May 2019.Prior to this, Bob was the Deputy Police Commissioner, Regional Operations in the Queensland Police Service (QPS). Bob was also the State Disaster Coordinator, a board member of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority, and the QPS Indigenous Champion prior to taking up this role.
Bob has worked in central agencies, as a university lecturer, as a consultant across a broad range of industries, been a CIO and was a Commissioned Officer of police for over 20 years. In these roles Bob demonstrated a deep commitment to building stakeholder relationships, community safety, prevention and providing pathways for people across the breadth of the State to come together to improve quality of life and resilience, particularly for those who are most vulnerable in Queensland’s diverse local communities. He values research being used pragmatically to improve evidence based practice. Bob’s priorities are the safety and wellbeing of children being cared for and supported by the Department of Youth Justice, as well as the safety and wellbeing of Youth Justice staff and our partners, to prevent young people from entering or remaining in the Youth Justice system.
Fiona Rigney (BA, BSW)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Advisor
Knowmore Legal Service
Fiona is a proud Ngarrindjeri (Nunga) and Mununjali (Murri) woman – with an extensive career as an experienced social worker and social justice advocate. Fiona works at Knowmore Legal Service in their Melbourne office as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Advisor. Fiona holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree (in Sociology and Political Science) and a Bachelor of Social Work Degree from the University of Melbourne. She was named on the University of Melbourne’s Dean’s List for outstanding academic excellence – academically in the top 1% of her faculty during her social work studies. Fiona is interested in the area of criminal justice and victimology.
“The findings from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse shed light onto what we, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, already knew - institutional child sexual abuse has disproportionately affected our people and our communities. Australian prisons are filled with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with significant trauma histories. If we are going to address the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander in the judicial system – and reduce adult re-offending - then there needs to be a stronger focus on healing.” Fiona Rigney
MANAGER - ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER ENGAGEMENT
knowmore LEGAL SERVICE
Dean is a descendant and knowledge holder of the Ngunawal Aboriginal peoples of the Yass/Canberra region.
Dean Bell has had extensive experience in government and Community Engagement roles where he has played a key role in encouraging the delivery of culturally safe and respectful services. Prior to joining knowmore, Dean worked as an Aboriginal Witness Assistance Service Officer at the New South Wales Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, providing cultural support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors and witnesses of Child Sexual Assault, Adult Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Family Violence and Homicides.
Dean has also spent time working for the NSW Department of Community Services; the NSW Aboriginal Children’s Service; the NSW Department of Corrective Services (Probation and Parole Services). Dean was the lead Consultant in the first review of the NSW Land Rights Act and also the lead Consultant in the preservation of the Brewarrina Aboriginal Fish Traps, of which are now recognised as being the oldest fish traps in the world.
Dean’s formal qualifications include an Advanced Diploma of Aboriginal Specialist Trauma Counselling and a Certificate IV in Aboriginal Family Health (Family Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Protection).
senior training consultant
Australian Childhood Foundation
Rebecca Cort has a background in criminology, law, and, youth and family work. Rebecca has experience working in research partnerships between Griffith University and Mission Australia, delivering one of the largest early intervention and prevention research projects in Australia, a research assistant for Griffith University schools of Criminology and Psychology, a program designer for therapeutic programs with criminogenic intervention and prevention strategies, a trauma informed practitioner in the youth justice sector and has worked in a community justice program in Cherburg community, Queensland. Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Criminology, a Graduate Certificate of Developmental Trauma, training in DDP and has worked with children and young people from out of home care. Rebecca is currently a senior training consultant, co-ordinating the youth justice portfolio for the Australian Childhood Foundation and has just recently moved to Adelaide after spending time in Wadeye community, Northern Territory. Her passion is in exploring ways to enable transformation in the intersection between trauma, crime and the law and ensuring these sectors develop and hold space for both healing from trauma and cultural sustainability in this country.