Members

List of current members:

CHAIR

Mr Tom Brideson

NSW Mental Health Commission Community Advisory Council

Mr Brideson is the NSW State-wide Coordinator of the Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce Program. He is located at Bloomfield Hospital as part of the Greater Western Area Health Service in Orange, NSW.  He has a broad interest in health policy development, social and emotional wellbeing, clinical mental health care, suicide prevention and educational matters across these domains. He is currently a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group.

Prof. Pat Dudgeon

National Mental Health Commission

Professor Dudgeon is from the Bardi people of the Kimberley.  She is a psychologist and is well known for her leadership in Indigenous higher education, in particular as Head of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin University for 19 years.  Currently she is a research fellow and an associate professor at the School of Indigenous Studies at the University of Western Australia.  She is actively involved with the Aboriginal community, having an ongoing commitment to social justice for Indigenous people. Professor Dudgeon is Co-chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group and a member of the National Mental Health Commission. She is the Director of the National Empowerment Project and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project. Professor Dudgeon was the inaugural Chair of NATSILMH from 2014-2017.

 Ms Denise Andrews

Queensland Mental Health Commission

Ms Andrews is a Gamilaroi woman and has worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs for over 35 years. She has had experience in senior management roles, since 1993 in NSW government, Telstra and within community organisations. Throughout her career Ms Andrews has advocate for empowerment and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through social policy reforms and in practice in employment, education, arts, land rights, health and wellbeing, child protection, violence and harm, policing and justice. Currently Ms Andrews is the Principal Policy Advisor Queensland Mental Health Commission and her primary focus is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing. Ms Andrews’ academic standing includes a Masters of Arts, Indigenous Social Policy; Graduate Certificate in Policy Analysis; a Bachelor of Education, Adult Education and an Associate Diploma Business, Accountancy.

Professor Tom Calma AO

 

Professor Calma is an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group in the Northern Territory.  He has been involved in Indigenous affairs at a local, community, state, national and international level for over 40 years. Professor Calma was the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner from 2004 – 2010 and the founding Chair of the Close the Gap Campaign for Indigenous Health Equality. He was also Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Advisory Group that oversaw the development of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy, and is currently Co-chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, National Coordinator for the Closing the Gap Tackling Indigenous Smoking measures, Chancellor of the University of Canberra, Co-chair of Reconciliation Australia and an Ambassador for Suicide Prevention Australia.

 

Ms Adele Cox

Ms Cox is a Bunuba and Gija woman from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. She started her working life in media and in suicide prevention. Ms Cox is a former member of the WA Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention and currently a member of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council, the National Senior Consultant to the National Empowerment Project and a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group.

Ms Cassandra Gillies

Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council

Ms Gillies is a Gungarri woman from southwest Queensland. She was formerly the Director, Engagement and Reporting for the Queensland Mental Health Commission and has over 25 years’ experience in senior management roles both within the government and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health care sectors across Queensland. She completed her Graduate Certificate in Health Management in 2009 at Griffith University, Queensland. Ms Gillies has been a strong advocate and leader in the provision of cultural awareness training over many years to both government and non-government organisations. She has co-authored a number of academic papers highlighting the need for the evaluation of cultural awareness training and its effectiveness in changing organisational culture and practice.

Dr Vickie Hovane

Dr Hovane is an Aboriginal woman from Broome in the Kimberley region of WA. She holds a First Class Honours Degree in Psychology. Dr Hovane has recently been appointed as a member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Panel to Reduce Violence Against Women. She is also an Independent Director on the Board of Australia’s National Research Organisation on Women’s Safety. She is a former Co-chair of the Australian Indigenous Psychologists’ Association and is currently a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group and member of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health.

Prof. Gracelyn Smallwood

Queensland Mental Health Commission’s Mental Health and Drug Advisory Council

Professor Smallwood is a prominent Aboriginal leader with 45 years’ experience, nationally and internationally, as a nurse, midwife and human rights activist. She has devoted her career to advocating for the empowerment of Indigenous communities through education, health and economic sustainability working in some of the most remote parts of Australia. Professor Smallwood has completed a certificate in Indigenous mental health, a Master of Science in Public Health and a PhD thesis Human rights and first Australians’ wellbeing. In 1975 she was a graduate with four other Indigenous students in culturally appropriate mental health training. In 2007 she received the Deadly Award for Outstanding Achievement in Indigenous Health and an Australia Medal for 25 years’ service in public health. She has been an editorial board member for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University for the past 20 years and in 2013 received the United Nations Association of Queensland Award for her contribution to public health and education. She is currently an adjunct Professor at James Cook University and the first Elder in Residence in the Indigenous Health Unit. Professor Smallwood anticipates undertaking a post doctorate in culturally appropriate mental health services in 2016.

Dr Robyn Shields AM

NSW Deputy Mental Health Commissioner

Dr Shields as a proud Aboriginal person of the Bundjalung people. She has worked in the mental health sector for many years, and is now undertaking specialist training as a psychiatrist. She is a member of the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal, member, Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Ethics Committee and has an Order of Australia (AM division) for development of Aboriginal mental health services, 2004. Dr Shields has concentrated on raising the status of mental illness in the public consciousness, and developing new models of care for the mentally ill people in the most disadvantaged groups, particularly Aboriginal people and forensic patients.

Dr Mark Wenitong

Mark is from the Kabi Kabi tribal group of South Queensland. Involved in both clinical and policy work throughout his career, he is currently the Aboriginal Public Health Medical Officer at Apunipima Cape York Health Council, where he is working on health reform across the Cape York Aboriginal communities. Mark has also previously been a Senior Medical Officer at Wuchopperen Health Services in Cairns, a Medical Advisor for the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH) in Canberra, the acting CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), and has worked in community development with World Vision in Papunya, Northern Territory.

Mark is a past president and founder of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association and sits on numerous councils and committees. Previously a member on the National Health Committee  of the National Health and Medical Research Council, he is Chair of Andrology Australia – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Male Health Advisory Committee, board member of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress and the AITHM.

Mark is heavily involved in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce and has helped develop several national workforce documents and sat on the COAG Australian Health Workforce Advisory Council. He is also involved in several research projects, and has worked in prison health, refugee health in East Timor, as well as studying and working in Indigenous health internationally.

In recognition of his achievements, Mark received the 2011 AMA Presidents Award for Excellence in Healthcare, the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council Hall of Fame award in 2010 and more recently, was one of thechief investigators awarded the MJA best research journal article for 2012.

Photo of Richard Weston

Mr Richard Weston

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation

Mr Weston is a descendant of the Meriam people of the Torres Strait. He has lived and worked for 27 years in urban, regional and remote settings where he gained a unique insight into grass roots Indigenous issues. He led the successful Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation in Far West NSW as CEO from 2000-2009. He spent 12 months with the Indigenous Health Service in Brisbane from 2009-2010. His current role is as CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation based in Canberra which commenced in September 2010. 

Mr Weston sits on a number of committees in Indigenous Affairs representing the Healing Foundation – National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF), The Close the Gap Steering Committee, National Empowerment Project (NEP) and ANU Medical School Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group. 

The work of the Healing Foundation in its short life has delivered 90 projects into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities across Australia that have employed 738 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, delivered 1675 activities to 16,000 people and have improved Social and Emotional Wellbeing to 94% of participants. 

Ms Samantha Wild

Samantha is a proud Wakka Wakka and South Sea Islander woman and draws from her own personal experiences of the gap in disadvantaged health outcomes to influence and inspire change.  She has a strong interest in improving the health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth and advocating for safe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health care within mainstream health services.  She has been committed to working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health for the past decade. Samantha holds qualifications in Applied Health Science (Indigenous Primary Health Care), Public Health and  Indigenous Trauma Recovery and Care.  She has participated in national and statewide groups that include Youth Advisor for the Headspace ‘Youth National Reference Group’ and Indigenous Taskforce.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)

Member to be appointed.