2023 NATIONAL FIRST NATIONS CLOSING THE GAP IN MENTAL HEALTH & SUICIDE PREVENTION CONFERENCE GUEST Speakers
Uncle Ara (Julga) Harathunian
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.
Ara's life is a living document. Within the pages are wisdom, knowledge, information, values, beliefs, ideas, creativity, innovation, gratitude, confidence, trust, skills, abilities and much learning to share from this document either in written form or in speech. I am blest that others who walk with me for life or for a season contribute from their living document vignettes, that become part of my life document.
My objective is to live every moment I have to its fullest. I want to contribute and appreciate my contribution to my family, my community, and the world in which I live. My hope is that in all I say and do, I demonstrate thankfulness, love and humility toward every human being who enters my space and my place upon this beautiful planet, so that when we continue from the place we meet we are made wiser, and more honourable to ourselves and to others.
Dr. Amber Logan
Indigenous Development Specialist
Dr. Amber R. Logan is a traditional Kahungunu Māori wahine, a New Zealand Health Psychologist and Doctoral Fellow in Public Health at Otago University. She teaches health psychology course work at the University of Auckland & Otago University and is well-known in New Zealand for her work in Methamphetamine education and community activism. Amber Logan is a consummate grant writer, health services evaluator and health services program designer. She has presented extensively in Australia, Canada, and the USA at Harvard University, the University of Washington, and to the US Federal Government.
Aunty Veronica Williams
Building Indigenous Capability VIC
Aunty Veronica Williams is an Aboriginal woman and business owner of Building Indigenous Capability who is from Queensland and who has worked in remote, rural and urban Australia. Veronica’s personal mission of making people and communities, ‘better, stronger and smarter’ by way of training and facilitation has contributed immensely to her business’s success over the years. Veronica is practiced in the world of ‘human-centered design’ which has a set of methods, mindset and behaviours that help practitioners to become more resourceful, inventive and collaborative. She is now venturing into the field of emotional health and helping workers to cope with the rapid change of workforce needs especially in remote Australia where there are underserved communities. She has trained remote health promotion workers from parts of Eastern Arnhem Land and would like to share experiences around story telling giving listeners tools that help them manoeuvre around challenges.
Dr. Joseph Stone
Indigenous Development Specialist
Dr. Joseph B. Stone, PhD, is an Anasaki-pikuni ceremonialist and traditionalist and member of the OKKAN (Sundance), the Last Star Thunder Medicine Pipe and Beaver Lodge. Dr. Stone works at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga – a Kaupapa Māori Health Provider; Awhina Whanu Family Services, and the Napier Family Centre all located in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. He has clinical experience with adult prisoners & corrections and juvenile justice in both New Zealand and USA. He is affiliated with the National Centre on Trauma and Project Making Medicine – Indian Health Service Assessment and Treatment of Child Abuse at Oklahoma State University. He has presented to, and served as consultant to, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs of Native Youth Suicide. Dr. Stone’s publications include articles on trauma, suicide, and other cultural & behavioural issues.
Director & Teacher
Human Givens Australia VIC
Mervin Edmunds (Merv) is a teacher, trainer and therapist. In 1997, he became the first Australian to hold a Human Givens Diploma. Merv also has trade, teaching, business, and workplace training qualifications and a Degree in Social Science. In 1993 Merv was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Education Award at Government House for his work with young people. He has conducted workshops and presented at many conferences in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. In his role as principal of Woolaning Homeland Christian College (NT), Merv visited many First Nations communities in the Top End, and later became involved as a consultant with Building Indigenous Capability in Katherine developing training materials for remote area health workers. He describes his current role as a 'non-practising retiree', dividing his time between pro-bono therapy and consulting, speaking engagements and coordination of an online certificate course in psychotherapy for professional associations.
Recovery Coach, Business Owner & Counsellor
The Self In Me Project QLD
Gretchen Pedral practiced as a Dentist in the Philippines for 3 years before coming to Australia in 2015. She completed her Australian qualifications of Graduate Diploma in Clinical Counselling at Australian Catholic University and a Statement of Attainment for Early Childhood Education and Care at Australian College. She is registered with PACFA as a provisional counsellor and an Accredited Mental Health First Aider. Gretchen has been working in the community and disability sector for over four years as a Disability Support Worker, Local Area Coordinator, and Service Facilitator with most of her clients are First Nations people. She is currently doing her Certificate IV in Mental Health and AOD with Open Colleges. She has a passion for disability, mental health & wellbeing, and advocating for the rights and dignity of every person. In her spare time, she like soccer, playing bass, and going to the beach. She believes that for a vision to grow and succeed you must invest in yourself as progress and accomplishments come from a strong foundation, a steadfast heart, and a bold personality.
Aunty Jeanette Singleton
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.
Director of and Cultural Advisor
Indigenous Wellbeing Centre (IWC)
Stirling Eggmolesse an Aboriginal man of the Gurang and Kabi Kabi peoples, and a Cultural Advisor to Indigenous Wellbeing Centre (IWC) Ltd. He has worked in the areas of youth support, cultural healing and community linkages for more than a decade. He currently sits as a member of the Board of Directors for IWC Ltd and sits in the position of Community Support Officer, within the Social Health and Wellbeing Team. Stirling brings his wealth of knowledge from holding a Certificate 4 in Business (Governance), Certificate 4 in Primary Health (ATSI), Certificate 4 in Child Care, and Certificate 3 in Sports and Recreation. He has eighteen years board Management experience, and a background of working in Youth and Men’s services, both of which he continues to do through his positions within IWC Ltd.
Jonathan Jono Cornforth
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Support & Liaison Officer
Jonathan Jono Cornforth is born on Yirrganydj land, Jonathan is a Wuthathi descendant of the far northeast cape of Queensland with family roots also in the Torres Strait Islands. He has an extensive background working within First Nation peoples’ community, and government initiatives for better outcomes and impact. On a foundation of leadership roles in the community and government, he is completing a social work degree to raise awareness around the impacts of intergenerational trauma and the power and strength of First Nations peoples’ cultures for healing. Over Two decades Jonathan has gained experience and perspectives in social justice and family wellbeing nationally and shares a message of celebration and gratitude for the greatness of ancestors, elders, and the ontology and authority that holds him and his family.
Team Leader: Inclusion
New Horizons NSW
Thomas is a proud Wonnarua Man from the Hills and plains of the Hunter Valley in NSW. He worked in the Community Services industry for over 20 years, managing and encompassing a diverse range of programs, supporting social and economic inclusion across the community. Thomas worked with New Horizons in the last twelve years in several management roles for disability, mental health and psychosocial support programs such as PHaMS, AHASI, NDIA Inclusion, Housing to independent living, and house and community support. Currently, he manages the Commonwealth Psychosocial Support program and the First Nation Mental Health program (Wellbeing Warriors) for New Horizons. Wellbeing Warriors is delivered by First Nation People for First Nation People with ongoing community consultation. The Wellbeing Warriors Program provides a range of group activities based on community consultation and needs.
Aboriginal Community Support Worker
Caitlyn is a proud Wiradjuri & Waiben woman. Waiben also known as Thursday Island. She grew up on Awabakal country, and currently live on Wonnarua country. Caitlyn works with New Horizons for a year and a half as an Aboriginal Community Support Worker. She loves working with her people, alongside her people and with her community. Showing the next generation that we are strong, resilient and can achieve anything we set our mind to is something she’s extremely passionate about. She looks forward to continuing to learn and grow as an individual and to share knowledge and our culture
Senior Social Worker Nhulundu Health Services
Gladstone Region Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Service
Yaleela Torrens is a proud Gooreng Gooreng & Bundjalung woman and Social Worker who currently lives and works on her ancestral lands of the Gladstone region. In 2016 Yaleela completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Anthropology and Sociology then followed onto complete a Masters of Social Work (Professional Qualifying) in 2020. Over the past decade Yaleela has worked across a variety of Social Work fields including the specialisation of Child-Centered Play Therapy. Currently, Yaleela is employed as the Senior Social Worker at Nhulundu Health Services where her duties include, providing culturally sensitive counselling, case management and advocacy. Yaleela is a Board member of the Play Therapy Practitioners Association and a current Branch Management Committee Member and Co-convenor of the First Nations and Allies Sub-Committee within the Qld Branch of the AASW.
Family Wellbeing Coordinator Nhulundu Health Services
Gladstone Region Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Service
Nigel Daisy is a proud Aboriginal man with roots in both the Mununjali and Butchulla traditional owner groups. Having worked in the construction industry for ten years, Nigel made the move into Community Relations with Stanwell Corporation. Here, he developed a passion for youth development and relished the opportunity to work in State Government positions and programs. In the health sector, Nigel has held numerous roles for over eight years across Queensland, most notably as CheckUP Australia South West Regional Coordinator. Currently, Nigel is proud to hold the role of Family Wellbeing Coordinator at Nhulundu Health Service and is a dedicated active Board member across two community organisations. Nigel's passion for sport is undeniable, but most of all he loves spending time with his young family.
Suicide Prevention Researcher & Advocate
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project
Gerry Georgatos is a suicide prevention, poverty, trauma recovery and prisons reform researcher and advocate, served as a board member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Advisory Group and founder of Students Without Borders. He has dedicated himself to suicide prevention – a leading cause of death; and the leading cause of unnatural deaths. He has been responsible for pushing onto the national landscape the extensiveness of the suicide crises among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Because of his research, public campaigns and face to face lobbying of Federal Ministers, he was able to craft and launch national responses, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) and willed the project away to strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders who went from strength to strength crafting the ways forward. Because of the ATSISPEP, there is now work towards developing real time data, notification protocols and evaluation tools in what works. Gerry also led a Commonwealth Government’s project on critical response to suicide affected families which provided invaluable support to suicide affected families and led to the establishment of the National Indigenous Critical Response Service. Gerry was the founding national coordinator of the NICRS’s Critical Response Trauma Recovery Project Support Advocates for more than two years. He quoted, “The pressing issue of suicide prevention must translate as a national priority,”
Dr Timothy White is a registered psychologist who grew up in Mt Isa in Kalkadoon country and was immersed in the strong Indigenous traditions and practices as a young man. Tim brought together his cultural and psychological knowledge to specialize in working with Indigenous communities and healing Indigenous men. At age 17, he joined the Australian Army and Served in Somalia, a role that has shaped his strong community justice principles. He has strong connections with the Yarrabah Kunganji community, and have been privileged to advocate and stand up for Indigenous rights and the improvement of standards of living. Dr Tim stated it was a privilege for him to have been welcomed in so many Far Northern Indigenous communities, particularly during times of high community distress, in particular during the Palm Island Riot, The Lockhart River Air Disaster and during the Kowanyama funeral tragedy. Tim is currently investing his energy in delivering the warrior program, aimed at improving the future of Indigenous men in remote communities and actively contributing to closing the gap.