Board of Directors
Jody Barney is a Murri women from Urangan (near Hervey Bay) with kinship ties to the Birri-Gubba people of Fraser Island and the Gurangi people of Barcaldine.
For the past 25 years, Jody has been living in Victoria where she has developed strong connections with mob in her home town of Shepparton and across many regional centres, due to her extensive work as a private Aboriginal Disability Community Consultant, community developer and researcher.
In particular, she volunteers in many communities teaching Auslan (Australian Sign Language) to increase access to communication.
A key focus of her work is supporting deaf and hard of hearing Indigenous women to increase their own personal, community, education and employment growth and become leaders in their communities.
In addition to mentoring other Deaf Aboriginal people, Jody provides leadership for Aboriginal people with disabilities more broadly and is also an advocate for the rights of Aboriginal peoples at local, state, national and international levels.
Some of her many achievements include:-
She is the first deaf Aboriginal person to obtain a business degree in Australia Bachelor of Applied Management (University of Ballarat); she is currently undertaking her MBA (University of Melbourne).
Actively involvement in National Congress, the First People’s Disability Network (Australia) and the International Deaf Native Gathering.
In 2011, she received an Emerging Fellow Award from the Fellowship of Indigenous Leadership.
In 2014, she was awarded the Brenda Gabe Leadership Award (Women with Disabilities, Victoria).
In 2017, she was appointed as an Inaugural Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity.
Kathryn Coff is a proud Yorta Yorta woman living on Jaara Country. She is a respected member of her local Aboriginal community in Castlemaine and currently manages Nalderun Aboriginal Services in the Mount Alexander Shire.
She has worked tirelessly over many years in establishing and developing programs for Community including the Meeting Place, Koorie Bus Service, Koorie Family Homework Centre, Murnong Mamma’s Indigenous Catering Service, Men’s Business Program, School Breakfast Program amongst others.
She has extensive experience in grant-writing and is responsible for financial operations and staff management at Nalderun.
She chairs various meetings in community and sits on the Shire’s Indigenous roundtable.
Her commitment to culturally-appropriate education for Koorie students has seen her working in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and led to her appointment in 2018 as Indigenous Practitioner in Residence at La Trobe University (Bundoora and Bendigo campuses). In this role, she oversees all Indigenous subjects, supports other lecturers and has recently published articles on two-way mentoring and presented at conferences in Australia and Hong Kong on engaging community in education.
Kathryn’s qualifications include:
Diploma in Education
Associate Degree in Environmental Science.
Graduate Diploma Special Education.
Diploma Vocational Education and Training.
Certificate IV in Vocational Education and Training.
Certificate IV in workplace training and Assessment.
Advanced Certificate in Residential and Community Service.
In 2017/8, Kathryn received an Emerging Leader award from the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership.
Kathryn believes that when Aboriginal people are supported by non-Indigenous Australians who have open hearts and minds, amazing things can happen for the whole community and the way forward is together, walking side by side.
Taneisha Webster is a proud Wathaurong woman who is committed to empowering her community through cultural connection and self-determination.
She has worked at VACCA for 4 years as a Kinship Care case manager, Team Leader of Kinship, Foster and Leaving Care, and Senior Advisor in Cultural Planning in various regions. She currently works as an Aboriginal Therapeutic Practitioner in Eastern region. Taneisha is passionate about supporting healing through cultural connection, knowledge and practice.
She completed a Degree in Arts majoring in Psychology at Monash University in 2014 and subsequently attained her Honours in Psychology at the University of Adelaide in 2018. Her thesis explored lateral violence and its impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the workplace.
Taneisha has been a Board member of Willum Warrain (a community-run Gathering Place on the Mornington Peninsula) since 2015 and held various roles including Secretary and Vice President. She has recently been elected President. She has sought and acquitted funding on behalf of the organisation and is keenly aware of the importance of investment in community to achieve its goals.
In 2016, she was the recipient of the Ricci Marks award (a Victoria-wide Aboriginal Young Achievers’ Award for Youth Leadership) in recognition of her professional work with Aboriginal children in out of home care and as an emerging community leader.
Taneisha is passionate about building community capacity through cultural strengthening and empowerment. She is excited about the opportunity that Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong will allow, for Aboriginal communities to take control of initiatives, to develop them from start to finish, run by and for local mobs.
Stephanie Armstrong is a Gamilaraay woman who comes from a large extended family in northern NSW. Her husband, two grown daughters and other family members and friends have been supportive of Stephanie’s need to make a difference in Aboriginal education and health. She has worked for over 35 years in rural, remote and urban contexts in various roles providing her with the skills and experiences she requires in both her consultancy business and her personal life. Stephanie is on many local committees and volunteers within her local Bendigo community and Melbourne, including sitting on the Worawa Advisory Board (Worawa is an Aboriginal girls school in Healesville).
Her role as co-leader of the Weenthunga Health Network over the last five years has been focused on encouraging local First Australian girls to stay at school and seek career pathways in health. This work has seen her establish networks and projects to support many young women in Bendigo and, in 2018, led to the establishment of expanded girls’ programs in Geelong and Melbourne. Her commitment to providing leadership and cultural programs for community continues to grow.
Career highlights include receiving the Rowan Nicks Russell Drysdale Fellows in 2013, the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership Emerging Leader award (2013-2014), a Bendigo NAIDOC recognition award in 2017, and a Commitment to Indigenous Health Award at the 2018 Indigenous Allied Health Forum in Sydney.
Stephanie sees a need for dramatic change in how work is done in education and health - the way forward lies in working with First Nations’ peoples to better understand the cultural interface that exists with non-Indigenous Australia.
Terori Hareko-Samios comes from a strong Islander heritage of Torres Strait Islander / Papua New Guinean. She has lived in Melbourne most of her adult life though her childhood was spent in many locations such as Arnhem Land, Vanuatu, Port Moresby and other South Pacific locations, travelling with her parents who were community development workers for AusAid.
Her personal and professional development has been very much shaped by the collective learnings from those early years, giving her a strong sense of cultural knowing as her understanding and knowledge of the global village has become much more established. She believes her family, culture and community are three very important aspects of her decision to work within community development, social justice and health frameworks over the course of her career. This commenced as a community development trainee with the Brotherhood of St. Laurence. After completing her Diploma of Community Education in 2005, she moved into Women’s health initially as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Women’s Support Worker at the Royal Women’s Hospital for 10 years before becoming Team Leader of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health program at Co-Health. She is currently the Senior Project Manager, First Nations Values of Water, for Yarra Valley Water, Melbourne Water, South East Water and City West Water. She also runs a private consultancy business called Salt Studio Consultancy which offers individuals and organisations the opportunity to build cultural understanding through the “8 ways of Knowing’ First Nations Cultural Knowledge Exchange Training, as well as running First Nation Leadership Training as part of local government Community Engagement programs.
Terori’s experience and involvement includes:-
Victorian Training Award, Trainee of the Year Victoria 2005, finalist at National level.
Co-Chair Oncology Social Work Australia Special Interest Group since 2013.
Being a member of various committees including Western Health Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committees, Royal Women’s Health Advisory Committee, Royal Children’s Hospital Advisory Committee, Yarra Aboriginal Support Network amongst many others.
Fellowship of Indigenous Leadership Emerging Leadership Award, 2015/6.
Vice-President Weenthunga Health Network including being Vice President (2014-15).
President Weenthunga Health Network including being Vice President (2015-16).
casual Cultural Lecturer School of Global, Urban and Social Science (RMIT).
Deferred final year of her Master of Social Work (RMIT).
Sherree Chaudhry (nee Alberts-Pevitt) is a proud Gilgar Gunditjmara woman on her mother’s side as well as retaining Scottish heritage through her father.
Sherree holds a Diploma in Human Resources Management and is currently employed full-time as the Human Resources Manager of Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation which is situated at Heywood in South West Victoria. She leads a dynamic team with a focus on training, quality and compliance. She has extensive lived experience in her community and has been an integral part of the significant growth trajectory of Winda Mara over the last decade.
Sherree has worked her way up through the organisation from when she first commenced in 2008 as a Playgroup Bus Driver, to Koorie Pre-School Assistant, to Housing Officer, to Payroll & Accounts and for the past 7 years has headed up the Human Resources Unit. Additionally, she had a stint as a legal secretary for the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service in Fitzroy.
Sherree is the current Co-Chair of Woor-Dungin, an organisation that mentors Aboriginal community organisations across Victoria and facilitates access to philanthropy.
Sherree holds a Diploma in Human Resources Management and is currently employed full-time as the Human Resources Manager of Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation which is situated at Heywood in South West Victoria. She leads a dynamic team with a focus on training, quality and compliance. She has extensive lived experience in her community and has been an integral part of the significant growth trajectory of Winda Mara over the last decade. Sherree has worked her way up through the organisation from when she first commenced in 2008 as a Playgroup Bus Driver, to Koorie Pre-School Assistant, to Housing Officer, to Payroll & Accounts and for the past 7 years has headed up the Human Resources Unit. Additionally, she had a stint as a legal secretary for the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service in Fitzroy.
Sherree is the current Co-Chair of Woor-Dungin, an organisation that mentors Aboriginal community organisations across Victoria and facilitates access to philanthropy. She is also graduate of their Maarni Aboriginal Women’s Leadership program. She has represented Woor-Dungin at the last two International Funders of Indigenous Philanthropy conferences promoting respectful relationships between philanthropy and Aboriginal community organisations on the global stage.
Sherree believes that the creation of Koondee Woonga-Gat Toor-rong will bridge the relationship between philanthropy and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by enhancing First Nations’ peoples’ journeys of self-determination in their own lives and communities, on country and through culture.
Gavin Somers is a proud Murri man having lived in Victoria for over 30 years with a strong Aboriginal arts and governance background, supporting both Aboriginal community organisations and communities themselves.
Gavin is formally trained in Business Governance and Management with extensive experience working with Aboriginal community organisations for over 20 years across a various government departments, including portfolios such as Aboriginal health, housing and employment. Gavin has also managed numerous programs supporting Aboriginal governance and community development across the state. As current manager of the Aboriginal Employment Team within the Department of Justice and Community Safety, he drives the Department’s Aboriginal cultural inclusion and Aboriginal employment and career development programs.
A proactive and energetic leader, Gavin has been a director on the board of Yappera Childrens’ Services Cooperative, and is currently President of Ilbijerri Aboriginal Theatre Company. An established Aboriginal songer/songwriter in his own right, Gavin is also a long- standing member of Songlines Aboriginal Corporation.
Gavin is passionate about Aboriginal philanthropy and empowering Aboriginal communities.