John is a proud Ku Ku yimidir (Far North Queensland) and Erub (Torres Strait Islander) Man. John is an honors graduate of The University of Melbourne and also holds a Diploma of Education from the same institution.
John has worked in the First Nations arena since first working for the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency in 1983. Since then John has held positions in VAEAI, secondary education, the Trade Union movement, Victorian Department of Aboriginal Affairs, local government, Red Cross, World Vision, and on-air journalist at ABC and SBS TV.
John is also a critically acclaimed multi-award winning playwright, director and actor, with 13 productions staged nationally and internationally (www.johnharding.me).
John has a passionate interest in First Nations youth development and the arts, and in 1991 founded Ilbijerri ATSI Theatre cooperative to increase the visibility of First Nations peoples on stage and screen. As a result of providing pathways for First Nations peoples to access the performing arts John subsequently received the Victorian and National NAIDOC Artist of the Year Awards, in 1992.
One of John's proudest achievements was co-developing the Shifting Sands short film series competition in 1995 with Wal Saunders at the inaugural Indigenous Film Unit of Screen Australia, spawning filmmakers the likes of Ivan Sen (Mystery Road) and Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah).
John also went on to win the Australian Human Rights Award for his play Up The Road in 1997, also collecting the RAKA Award, and numerous theatrical awards.
John won The Deadly Award twice, in two different categories. The first was in 2008 for writing The Dirty Mile, and the second was for National Broadcaster of the year in 2013, rewarding his popular radio show Survival on 3CR Community Radio.
As the current Executive Officer of ‘Koondee Wonga-gat Toor-rong’, John is committed to Indigenous philanthropic best practice. Johns aim is to create opportunities for the Victorian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders communities through partnerships and collaboration.
John co-founded The First Nations of Australia Writers Network in 2012-2013 and currently sits on its Board