Dr Tarun Weeramanthri
Executive Director Public Health, Western Australia Department of Health
After training as a general physician at Royal Perth Hospital from 1984-1990, Tarun moved to the Northern Territory in 1991 as a research fellow in Aboriginal health at Menzies School of Health Research. From 1996-2003, he worked as a Community Physician with NT Department of Health and Community Services, and as a specialist physician at Royal Darwin Hospital. During this time, he helped to develop the NT Preventable Chronic Disease Strategy. He became Chief Health Officer in the NT in 2004, and moved to WA in early 2008 to head up a new Public Health Division. He provides professional leadership and strategic advice to the Department on public health issues, and remains an active health services researcher.
Prof Ken Wyatt AM
Director Aboriginal Health, Western Australia Department of Health
Ken has a strong Noongar, Yamatji and Wongi heritage and believes that education and access to the knowledge society involves life-long learning and is the key to change and making informed decisions of choice. Ken recently held the position of Director, Aboriginal Health, New South Wales Department of Health from 2003 and has returned home after being successful in being appointed as the Director, Aboriginal Health with the Western Australian Department of Health. His leadership at the national level and within New South Wales is widely acknowledged and appreciated by many. Prior to leaving Western Australia Ken held the position of Director of the Aboriginal Education Department of Education Western Australia from 1992 until June 2002 where the focus of his work was on improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal students. He also held the position of Pro Chancellor of Edith Cowan University Western Australia for a period from 2001-2003 when he relinquished the role to take up his appointment as Director, Aboriginal Health in New South Wales. In 1996 he was honoured to receive an Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List and in 2000 The Centenary of Federation Medal for his efforts and contribution towards improving the quality of life, firstly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to mainstream Australia society in education and health. Ken has been actively involved with numerous committees associated with Aboriginal Affairs, Education, Health and the Aboriginal Lands Trust at the community, State and National levels and with ATSIC as a Regional Chair. Ken is committed to working towards achieving better outcomes and opportunities for Indigenous Australians and Australian society.
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Dr Mark Bin Bakar
Mark is a member of the Australia Council’s National Indigenous Arts Reference Group (NIARG), and a member of the Indigenous Implementation Board of WA. A musician, a performer and radio announcer based in Broome, in the Kimberley, Mark is best known for his television character Mary Geddarrdyu, or Mary G who hosted a variety show broadcast nationally on SBS Television. Mark travels extensively throughout remote areas talking to people about alcohol and drug abuse, health care, emotional wellbeing, respect for elders, domestic violence, and instilling a sense of pride back into the wider community. He also uses the character to assist in the reconciliation process of Australia by using the character of Mary G to Bridge and Close the Gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people. In 2007 he was recognised as National Indigenous Person of the Year and in 2008 West Australian of the year. He received an Honorary Doctorate from Edith Cowan University early this year.
Dr Sue Gordon AM
Children’s Court Magistrate
Sue was taken from her mother aged 4 years in 1947 under government policies relating to part Aboriginal children. Her family found her over 30 years later. She has served in the Defence Forces as a soldier, worked around Australia in various administrative positions, including more than 14 years in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, for Aboriginal people. She was appointed Commissioner of Aboriginal Planning in Western Australia in 1986 making her the first Aboriginal person in Western Australia to head a government department. She was appointed a Magistrate of the Children’s Court of Western Australia in 1988 and became the first Aboriginal Magistrate in Western Australia, retiring in September 2008. She was one of the first appointed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) Commissioners in 1990, has sat on various national boards and committees and is a member of a wide range of organisations, including the Chairperson of the Sister Kate’s Children 1934 to 1953 Aboriginal Corporation. She was awarded an Order of Australia in 1993 for her work with Aboriginal people and the community generally, a Centenary Medal in 2003, the Defence Service Medal 2006 and in the same year appointed as a Member of the Council of the Order of Australia in 2006. She has a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Western Australia, which she completed as a mature aged student and was later awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters. In June 2007 she was appointed as Chairperson of Prime Minister Howard’s Northern Territory Emergency Response Taskforce (NTERT) for a period of 12 months. She finished the 12 months under the Rudd Government in June 2008. In December 2008 she was appointed to the Western Australian State Training Board and has also recently been appointed to the Western Australian Indigenous Implementation Board.
Dr Tarun Weeramanthri