Karrina Nolan

Karrina Nolan is a Yorta Yorta woman and Director of Original Power, an organisation with a mission to build the power of her people.

‘My social change proposal is to build the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through organising and campaigning to protect country. Working in partnership with existing campaigns, allies, networks and initiatives to power people, campaigns, and solutions.’

Karrina has worked as an organiser, strategist, campaigner, facilitator and community educator alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, young people and communities for over 20 years. She has developed and delivered community cultural development programs in remote and regional communities, working with young people to develop confidence and pride to talk up their issues and supported hundreds of women to be effective and strategic change makers.

‘My focus is on building the power of my mob working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities building up capacity for self-determination in the context of mining, economic development and climate change.’

Judith (Huti) Watson

Judith (Huti) Watson is an Aotearoa/New Zealand Māori of Ngāti Porou / Tainui descent principally based in the Tairāwhiti in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Weipa/Cairns.

‘My social change project will focus on using community development principles combined with Mātauranga Maori to work in an enabling way with whānau and hapū to intensify transformative, community led action in addressing wellness.’

Huti is a consultant with a broad range of knowledge across health, research, consulting, and economic development. passionate about the wellbeing of her tribe and committed to ensuring that the next generation lives longer and better than the last. She is Huti is actively engaged in promoting business enterprise and key economic initiatives that are aimed at enhancing the wellbeing of whānau (family), hapū (extended family) and iwi (tribe), and works with Indigenous people of both Australia and New Zealand. She is Chair of a Maori Manuka honey landowner collective, Ngati Porou Miere, and Deputy Chair of Ngati Porou Hauora, a tribal health board.

‘My vision is ‘Kia tu pakari, kei tua o kapenga’ - We will Stand Strong (as a tribe), To Achieve Excellence (in health). This vision is to not only deliver excellence in the provision of clinical services, but to also work intensively with Māori communities to increase their involvement in dealing with community identified issues that relate to their unique social, cultural, spiritual, environmental and health needs.’

Peter Anderson

Peter is a Walpiri and Murinpatha First Nations man, currently based in Brisbane where he is Director of the Indigenous Research and Engagement Unit at Queensland University of Technology and National Indigenous Research Knowledges Network (NIRAKN).

‘My social change proposal is create social change frameworks through curriculum and pedagogical strengthening development informed by First Nations Australian sovereignty and the United Nations Declaration Rights of Indigenous People.’

Peter’s research theorises the understandings of the organisational value of academic freedom in Australian universities and also more broadly in the polar south. His research spans the areas of organisational leadership, Indigenous peoples' education, and teacher and academic professional development.

’We are in dire need to enhance the capacity of institutions to proactively respond to the professional development needs in areas such as initial teacher education, and medicine, nursing and allied health. Indigenous educational leadership in the academy, and other related education endeavors, will improve the health and well being of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.’

Shane Webster

Shane has Torres Strait Islander, Singaporean and New Zealand ancestry and is the Regional Director of Jawun in Adelaide, South Australia.

‘My social change proposal is to support First Nations to become digitally empowered to meet the challenges of the 4th industrial revolution and to prosper from the new digital economy.’

Shane has played a key role in driving initiatives designed to empower First Nations to shape their future by choice, not chance. This has included contributions to significant legislative reform, the development of South Australia’s first Aboriginal Business Procurement policy and in more recent times, championing the creation of a Ngarrindjeri wildflower business and a Shared Services company that has since processed over $10 million and provides a payroll function to 100+ Aboriginal employees.

‘I envisage a network where First Nations purchase services from each other, developing new career pathways and better systems. I am dedicated to system change; communities will be armed with the expertise to apply digital skills in the design of community solutions.
The future will position First Nations people to participate in the new economy where businesses are built on artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics.’

Heath Nelson

Heath is the Manager of Community Development at Fortescue Metals Group.

‘My social change proposal is to advocate, establish and enhance the Indigenous economic landscape through procurement. ‘

Heath  joined Fortescue Metals in 2011 to increase the engagement and participation of Indigenous businesses. He pioneered the Billion Opportunities program which has awarded over $2 billion in contracts to over 100 Indigenous businesses in the past six years. The Billion Opportunities program was the blueprint for the Forrest Review’s Government Indigenous procurement recommendation which lead to the release of the Commonwealth Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy (IPP) in July 2015. The IPP has resulted in over $1 billion in Commonwealth contracts awarded to Indigenous businesses over the past three years.

‘I am invested in the increased economic participation of Indigenous owned businesses, which leads to the advancement of the socio-economic and well-being of Indigenous people. This in turn leads to generational improvements in living, education and health standards. I strive to influence government agencies and the corporate sector on providing platforms and pathways for Indigenous employment, wealth creation, capacity building and role modelling.’

Juanita Wheeler

Juanita recent became a Producer of Upstream Pictures (USA). She is the Founder and Managing Director of Full & Frank and Executive Director of TEDxBrisbane.

Juanita is on a mission to save the world, by ensuring the people and organisations working to change the world have the funds they need to succeed. The current system for charitable giving and philanthropy is broken.

As Juanita would tell you: "We expect nonprofits to solve the world's largest problems, but to do it with the cheapest available band-aids.  And that is bullsh##."

Despite evidence that our current practices starve the charities we care about and prevent them from achieving their missions, society clings to them with obsessive determination.

 Juanita is producing a full-length, social impact documentary feature film as part of the lead creative team at Upstream Pictures, a Hollywood-based film production studio.  The film's director is Stephen Gyllenhaal.


"My social change project will tackle the deeply embedded beliefs and behaviours regarding charitable funding, highlight the unintended negative consequences of our actions and elevating the research.  A comprehensive set of accompanying study guides will complement the new knowledge depicted in the film, individually tailored for philanthropists, donors, foundations, charity boards, journalists and educators."

The film and the accompanying social impact campaign will pave the way for systemic behavioural change.  Change with a game-changing scale of impact that permeates across organisations, issues and continents.

Juanita comes to her role of director after many years in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.  Having left her role as a Director of Global Marketing and Market Development with an international biotech firm to do more good in the world, she has spent the last five years consulting exclusively to nonprofits, social enterprises and profit-with-purpose organisations.  In her 'spare time' she is the Executive Director of TEDxBrisbane, where she and her team showcase Australia's best ideas to the world.

In 2014 Juanita delivered a TEDx Talk entitled 'Busting the charity overhead myth'.  The film is an extension of many ideas introduced in that talk.

Penelope Jones

Penelope Jones is a Director in the Commonwealth Department of Health’s Budget Branch.

 ‘My social change project is a call to action to inspire non-Indigenous Australians to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flourishing.’

Penelope’s career has spanned several Government Departments, focusing on Indigenous health, welfare reform, disability policy, research and evaluation. She has worked in post-crisis Timor-Leste and Haiti as a diplomat and then an aid worker. She further developed her knowledge of social change through a Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development from the Australian National University. Penelope is a Board Director of Beryl Women Inc, Australia’s longest-running women’s refuge.

‘Australia doesn’t have to be a country known for inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. But to make Australia fairer, all of us need to contribute. My project will encourage the 97 per cent of the population who are not Indigenous to take action in their sphere of influence to support Indigenous well-being.’

Janine Mohamed

Janine Mohamed is a Narrunga Kaurna woman currently residing in Melbourne, and Interim Chief Executive Officer at The Lowitja Institute.

‘My social change proposal is The International Alliance of First Nations Nurses - connecting First Nations nurses and fostering their sense of resilience and mutual commitment to increase recognition, value and voice of First Nations nurses within the nursing profession at an international level.’

Over the past 20 years Janine has worked in nursing, management, workforce and health policy, and project management in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector. Many of these years have been spent in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector at state, national and International levels.

‘When I have met with First Nations nurses across the world I have learned that we are facing many of the same challenges in our respective countries. We are all committed to continuing to honour our cultural traditions and knowledges and acknowledge our extraordinary stories of survival and resilience in the face of colonisation, and its historical and contemporary consequences. First Nations nurses need to have a prominent and respected collective voice to influence decision making in the international arena.’

Daryle Rigney

Daryle Rigney is a Ngarrindjeri Nation citizen of South Australia and Professor of Indigenous Strategy and Engagement, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University in Adelaide.

‘My social change proposal is to work with the Ngarrindjeri Nation in the strategic realisation of treaty outcomes using a ‘nation-rebuilding’ approach. My project responds to an urgent need for research that investigates the nature of the various treaty processes currently unfolding in Australia, and evaluates their potential for success in enabling the formal recognition of Indigenous structures of culturally appropriate governance, decision-making and exercise of jurisdiction.

Daryle’s work focuses on international developments in Indigenous governance following colonisation where he has been both a practitioner of Indigenous nation building and has published widely and influentially on this subject. His work has traversed the fields of Indigenous education, governance and nation building, natural resources, cultural heritage and local, national and global engagement, collaboration and alliance.

'The increasing urgency in debates about treaty indicate Australia is poised to enter into a new era of potential agreement and reconciliation between settler states and Indigenous authorities.  My project aims to document, theorise and support the process and the nature of the political negotiations taking place in this ground-breaking historical shift in Australian society.’

Raymond Orr

Raymond I. Orr is an American Indian Citizen Potawatomi Nation, currently Associate Professor at The University of Oklahoma in the United States.

‘My social change proposal is to engage in treaty-making debates in Australia by drawing on comparative experiences in the United States and Aotearoa/New Zealand. I will consider what testimonials about treaties and self-determination from Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples from the US and NZ would positively impact treaty discussions in Australia.’

Before joining the University of Oklahoma, Raymond taught comparative and Indigenous politics at the University of Melbourne, Australia.  He is interested in institutions and attitudes internal to Indigenous polities and in understanding attitudes about Indigenous peoples from the perspective of settler societies. His research places these themes into contact with multiple fields, including tribal policy, identity, trauma and economic development.

'Self- determination, treaty rights and governances have extra-legal consequences  that are of tremendous social and emotive value, significantly including economic development and better health outcomes. Through the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity Program I will be able to extend my work into places I had not considered possible. I hope to use these skills to help expand the possibilities for Indigenous peoples and their self-governance’

Pekeri Ruska

Pekeri Ruska is a Goenpul woman from North Stradbroke Island.

‘My social change proposal is to explore alternative models of home ownership for Aboriginal people, complemented by a review of the decolonisation of home design to embrace our culture and our ways of living.’

Pekeri has an inherent passion for social justice matters and spent five years working for Boe Lawyers as a paralegal whilst working toward her law and journalism degree. She then went on to be a Criminal and Civil law solicitor in Victoria, before moving home to North Stradbroke Island to work and volunteer for her own community. She has spent the last two years working as the General Manager of the North Stradbroke Island Aboriginal and Islanders Housing Co-operative Society Ltd.

‘Not residing in adequate housing is just one of the many factors keeping Aboriginal people at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.  My vision is for all Indigenous people to obtain home ownership to provide for sustainable foundations imperative to improved social outcomes. These homes need to be designed in a way that honours culture, indigenous ways of living and fits in the landscape of modern living.’

Charles O'Leary

Charles is a Gamilaroi from Barraba, NSW and currently the Chair and Board Director of Wangal United.

‘My social change proposal is to develop a Grounded Indigenous Australian Flourishing Theory. The primary objective of the proposal is to develop a theoretical framework, which will create a national shift in consciousness that will liberate Indigenous Australians from lived experiences of survival and languish to the lived experience of flourishment‘. ‘

Charles is the Chair and a Board Director of Wangal United - a Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation in the west of Melbourne. He is currently completing a Master of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne examining the strengths of Indigenous Australians employed at Australian Higher Education Institutes.

‘My vision is for Aboriginal people to transcend the discourse and lived experience of disadvantage in the belief that Australian Aboriginal spirit is strong with an unbroken connection to time, space, and place. In doing so the Aboriginal they will free themselves from the bondage of colonised oppression and be liberated to live the life they choose.’

Tania Pouwhare

Tania Pouwhare is a Ngāi Tūhoe woman from Waiohau in the Bay of Plenty, Aotearoa, currently residing in Auckland.

‘My social change proposal is to radically re-imagine an economy for South Auckland that is just, inclusive, circular and regenerative so that prosperity is more equitably shared.’

After working in policy and strategy roles in women's rights NGOs in both Aotearoa/New Zealand and London, Tania moved back to Auckland in 2011 to take up a strategy role at Auckland Council. There she focused on community and social strategy, before becoming a Social Intrapreneur in the council's social innovation team, The Southern Initiative (TSI). Tania currently leads The Southern Initiative's economic development work and has the freedom to innovate and experiment with radical solutions to some of the country's most pressing socio-economic challenges.

‘My vision is a socially just and environmentally sustainable local economy in South Auckland where all Māori - and particularly the poorest Māori - prosper. There’s no doubt that Māori have borne the consequences of successive economic and social policy failures, largely experiencing life as victims of economic change rather than its protagonists. Clearly, this must change – but how might we reimagine South Auckland’s economy for the future?’

Jonathan Kneebone

Jonathan is currently Senior Manager of Policy, Advocacy and Strategic Projects, Strategy and Innovation at Indigenous Business Australia.

My social change proposal is focused on the role of finance as a tool for social change and redistributive and to establish better links, mechanisms and incentives to mobilise private capital to flow to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers, enterprises, projects and ventures.’

Jonathan has had a career spanning legal, policy strategy, investor relations and commercial roles, having spent over a decade working for indigenous organisations including the Northern Land Council and Native Title Services Victoria as Managing Lawyer before shifting to the commercially-focused Indigenous Business Australia. There he saw the potential for impact investing to fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ventures, to grow the potential for social entrepreneurship to create solutions, and to shift reliance from government and grant sources of funding..

‘My work over close to 15 years with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has made it abundantly clear that communities, groups and individuals desire self-determination and freedom of choice to improve their lives and livelihoods.’

Alex Splitt

Alex is a proud Gubbi Gubbi man (Southeast Coast, QLD) based in Melbourne, Victoria but originally from Tennant Creek. He is an Independent Consultant who utilises his own and that of other First Peoples knowledges and perspectives, working with organisations and public institutions seeking to advance reconciliation. He is currently working on a number of projects, including the development of the Victorian Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework and an Indigenous Industry Engagement Framework with one of Victoria’s leading Universities..

My social change proposal is to explore how best to develop and embed a partnership model in Indigenous social policy, centred on engaging policy makers, deliverers, and the end user to collectively design products, programs and services that will ultimately lead to improvements and innovation in social outcomes.’

Alex has a background in social policy, operations and youth development. Throughout his career he has worked extensively in the field of Aboriginal Affairs, with a strong focus on strategy and policy development, operational management and leadership within not-for-profits – including the sporting industry and youth sector.

‘Embedding an approach to social equity for Indigenous communities based on partnering, rather than engaging, sends strong message that utilising the existing capacity, strengths and resilience of each community is essential to tackling community challenges. Mobs know that their role is vital in building, maintaining and generating positive community outcomes.’

Alison Bentick

Alison Bentick is a Torres Strait Islander with Scottish heritage, now living in Dubbo NSW. Alison has worked in Federal Government for 15 years in a variety of portfolios including mainstream employment, disability, education and most importantly Indigenous Affairs.

‘My social change proposal is to address the issue of ice addiction in the Murdi Paaki Region of Western NSW, through a consultative and collaborative two-phase process, building on Recommendation 22 of the National Ice Taskforce Report.’

Alison has a flare for Economic Development and in a previous role in Canberra worked on Indigenous Economic Development and Policy Implementation across several States and Territories.  Her current role with the Murdi Paaki Sub Region in Western NSW links her closely with 16 remote communities on their priorities through a regional governance body.

The varieties of issues you are faced with on a day to day basis in these communities are hard, complex and sometimes hurtful. You come across resilience and passion also mixed with social/mental health issues; alcohol and drug dependencies and overcrowding of houses. I see young mums with ideas for a future, and meet Elders who are working closely with communities to pass on their culture and beliefs for their people.’