Marcus Akuhata-Brown

It was while at university that Marcus become conscious of the significant inequities that existed in society and the over representation of Māori people in all of the negative social indicators. This awareness became the catalyst of change in his life and has informed the majority of the decisions he has made.    

Marcus has spent over 20 years supporting and inspiring rangatahi Māori to realise their potential, and aims to advance their role as active agents in all spheres of development in New Zealand society and beyond. 

Marcus is the Founder of Tuia National Leadership Development Program, which takes an intergenerational approach based on Indigenous development principles to enhance the way in which rangatahi Māori contribute to communities throughout New Zealand.

This fellowship will provide an amazing framework to explore with others how to maximise the opportunity to effectively contribute to the next phase of social transformation that I am committed to.

Marcus has consulted for a range of organisations including the New Zealand (NZ) Ministry of Internal Affairs, Commonwealth Youth Program, Mayors Taskforce for Jobs. He is the Founding Trustee for TUIA Charitable Trust, and was Director for the Global Board of Directors CIVICUS, and Chair of Pan Commonwealth Youth Caucus.

Marcus is currently on sabbatical from Matriki until June 2018.

Durkhanai Ayubi

Durkhanai is a first generation migrant from Afghanistan and currently owns and operates her own Afghan restaurants in Adelaide, South Australia.

As a restaurateur and writer, Durkhanai plans to use the transformative power of shared experiences through food, to help people unlearn discrimination and empower them to be advocates for social change.

Food can be a powerful tool to help challenge people’s perceptions, because it is a snapshot on a plate of a country’s history and geography. It tells a broader story which is often contradictory to what has become accepted as a common narrative.

Dukhanai is also a freelance journalist for The Age, New Matilda, The Adelaide Review, The Drum and Crikey. She is the co-founder and assistant editor of Sultana's Dream, a not-for-profit online magazine written and produced by Australian Muslim Women, to provide an unbiased narrative on the experiences of Australian Muslim women on issues ranging from culture, society and politics.

She currently sits on the Committee for Adelaide, and on the Board of Melbourne Social Equity Institute. Dukhanai has a Bachelor of Science Chemistry (Honours) from Flinders University of South Australia.

Roxanne Bainbridge

Roxanne is an Aboriginal woman from the Gungarri/Kunja Nations of South-Western Queensland. She is Associate Professor of Indigenous Health at Central Queensland University, and Director at the Centre for Indigenous Health Equity Research, a centre which she helped establish. 

Roxanne has worked as a researcher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and education over the past seven years, and has multidisciplinary expertise clustered around the social and cultural determinants of health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychosocial resilience, empowerment and social inclusion. 

I am driven by a strong desire to be a part of solution-focused approach to social change for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait children and adolescents, and continuity of a flourishing culture; this is my cultural and moral responsibility.

Roxanne intends to develop and evaluate the social and emotional learning strategies being implemented in Queensland boarding schools, to help remote Indigenous students better engage in life and learning.

She currently holds a NHMRC Career Development Fellowship about strengthening the psychosocial health and resilience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian adolescents.

Jody Barney

Jody is a deaf Aboriginal and South-Sea Islander woman who has spent the past 30 years working with communities of Indigenous peoples with disabilities, as a leader, trainer and change agent.

Jody has worked with Indigenous women with hearing loss to help them learn sign language and engage in culturally-safe communication, in order to access maternal health care services, early intervention programs, youth justice services and local community sexual assault services.

As part of the Fellowship, Jody plans to extend her experience and look at how Indigenous women with hearing loss can reach their full potential as the building blocks of their communities and families.

I want to break down the barriers which lead to erroneous judgments and low expectations. Regardless of what form of communication is used, people’s stories need to be heard to find common ground.

In 2011, Jody received an Emerging Leaders Award from the Indigenous Fellowship of Leadership, and in 2014 she received the Brenda Gabe Leadership Award for her work in engaging and working with Indigenous women with disabilities across Victoria and Australia. 

She is an active member of the Australia Sign Language Interpreters Association, Murra Indigenous Business Leadership program, Kinaway Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce and Deaf Victoria

Michelle Craigie

Michelle is a Gomeroi woman born in Moree (NSW), who is dedicated to creating pathways to economic development and social equity. She has over 13 years public sector experience with the Indigenous Land Corporation, the Department of Finance and now the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, leading policy design and analysis and program implementation.

Over the past 12 months Michelle has been Executive Officer to the Indigenous Affairs Group’s Associate and Deputy Secretaries at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as well as temporarily filling the role of Executive Officer to the Secretary. In these roles she has provided advice and influence on a range of complex issues, including in the Indigenous Affairs portfolio.

While working on the Prison to Work Report in 2016, Michelle was inspired by the stories of incarcerated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. This led her to seek opportunities to establish social enterprises to assist women’s exit from prison. Michelle plans to research successful social enterprises to test, adapt and implement a framework to measure individual success over a ten-year period.

In the future I see Indigenous people and communities living a prosperous life full of choice, equity and happiness, that builds opportunities for intergenerational wealth creation.

Michelle has completed short-term placements with the Central Australia Regional Network Office in Alice Springs and Cape York Institute, demonstrating commitment to sharing knowledge, expanding networks and supporting Indigenous leaders. She completed a Bachelor of (Indigenous) Community Management at Macquarie University in 2009.

Nick Eakin

Nick believes in the power of the mind in increasing self determination potential. Certain social structures and decreased self-determination contribute to social inequity in disadvantaged communities by making it difficult to increase individual and collective wellbeing (physical and mental health).

If the social structures (school curriculum, cost of nutrition for example) can be changed, along with boosting the self-determination potential that’s possible for an individual, there will be a shift towards greater social equity, and thus greater wellbeing.

Fascination with motivation and empowering behaviours is a direct result of my life and its journey.


Nick has spent more than a decade working with Indigenous communities of Australia and Canada to facilitate individual and community empowerment. In his present role as General Manager - Regions with Jawun, Nick works with remote and regional communities, Indigenous leaders, corporate executives, grass roots and social enterprise initiatives.

Nick completed an Executive Education at Harvard University and the Masters of Business Administration at the University of South Australia. He has also completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne. 

Sean Gordon

Sean is a Wangkumarra/Barkindji man, and for the past nine years he has served as CEO of the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council. Under Sean’s leadership Darkinjung has built combined assets in excess of $55 million, and is currently developing innovative affordable housing and home ownership models that allow potential tenants to build equity and save to a cash deposit while renting in the Darkinjung affordable housing program.

Sean is committed to pursuing the practical solutions and programs that are driving Indigenous Economic development in each of the eight Empowered Communities regions and their role in redressing Indigenous socio-economic disadvantage and disempowerment.

My goal is to close the gap on the social and economic disparity of Indigenous Australians, and ensure that legislation, policy and programs have a positive impact and convert to genuine opportunities for Indigenous economic empowerment and independence.

Sean co-convenes the Empowered Communities Leadership Group and chairs the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) and Uphold and Recognise. He is also a member of the Commonwealth Bank Indigenous Advisory Group.

Ariadne Gorring

For more than 20 years, Ari has been involved in Indigenous led cultural conservation, working alongside Aboriginal people on country. Ari has primarily worked at the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) with her experience spanning across native title, cultural and natural resource management, and community engagement.  

Passionate about Indigenous-led conservation, Ari worked with 14 Native Title groups to register the West Kimberley on the National Heritage List for its outstanding cultural and natural values.  More recently, she led the registration of the North Kimberley Savanna Carbon Projects – the first of their kind in Australia to be registered on native title lands. In recent years Ari has engaged with national and international networks to promote best practice models of Indigenous led conservation.

I’ve seen the transformation that happens when people spend time together on country. These experiences have fuelled my interest in building a remote industry founded on the cultural and natural values of the Kimberley region.

Ari’s vision is the creation of a service hub within the KLC to enable Aboriginal ranger groups and native title corporations to scale up cultural and conservation enterprises, and effectively drive a new economy in remote Kimberley communities.

In 2015 Ari was awarded a Barbara Thomas Fellowship in Conservation Financing via The Nature Conservancy Australia, which included a study tour of Canada and the USA investigating conservation investment projects, sustainable financing models and fundraising strategies.

She was a committee member for the 2013 World Indigenous Network conference in Darwin, presented at 2014 World Parks Congress in Sydney and 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. Ari has a Bachelor of Arts from Murdoch University majoring in sustainable development and entrepreneurship.

Nicole Jenkins

Nicole is a Gamilaroi woman from Moree. Nicole has spent many years
working in employment, recruitment, policy and strategy development. Her
experience in the community has led her to question how Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people are recruited, and how their skills are recognised
in organisations.

The nuances that are gained from life and community experience needs to be acknowledged and qualified so as a society, we genuinely include and value the knowledge and attributes that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people bring to the workplace.

Nicole aims to develop a competency set based on the skills, knowledge and attributes that Indigenous people bring to the workforce – skills which have not been acquired through formal qualifications or training. 

Nicole is currently a Mentor with Training Services NSW, supporting Aboriginal trainees and apprentices. She was previously Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Workforce Engagement with the Australian Red Cross. She completed Bachelor of Business in Human Resources, and Master of International Sports Management at Southern Cross University.

Maggie Kavanagh

Maggie has had a deep connection with Aboriginal communities since 1985.

She started out as a school teacher in a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory where she learnt to speak Pitjantjatjara. Since then she has lived and worked in many remote Aboriginal communities in central and Western Australia and the East Kimberley. 

This included 16 years as the CEO of the NPY Women’s Council in central Australia and four years as the Coordinator of the Wiluna Regional Partnership Agreement. She was the recipient of a Churchill Fellow in 2006.  Part of the fellowship involved facilitating five Aboriginal people from central Australia to examine First Nation solvent misuse treatment centres in Canada and Alaska.

Continuing her work as an independent consultant, she has been engaged by numerous Aboriginal communities and organisations and government departments to work in the fields of community development, governance training and capacity building.

Through her roles, Maggie has experienced first-hand the day-to-day reality of living in remote communities. She is passionate about supporting Aboriginal people to have more control over decision making and a greater stake in the governance and management of their communities.

Working in partnership with Aboriginal people, Maggie hopes to establish a leadership and governance knowledge centre in Alice Springs for Aboriginal people from remote desert communities.  It would become a learning hub bringing people together to develop and strengthen their knowledge, skills, practice and confidence to govern and manage their own communities, organisations, councils, shires and other agencies.

Unless there are greater efforts to develop Aboriginal people’s leadership and governance knowledge from remote desert communities, we will be having the same conversation in ten years.

Faye McMillan

Faye is a Wiradjuri woman from Trangie (NSW) who is passionate about nation building, Indigenous women in leadership roles and mental health.

Graduating as Australia’s first Aboriginal Pharmacist, Faye soon moved into the allied health field, where she became a founding member of Indigenous Allied Health Australia. Faye currently leads Charles Sturt University’s Djirruwang Program – Bachelor of Health Science (Mental Health).

Faye has always sought out new educational opportunities and used this as an opportunity to learn her language (Wiradjuri). She believes its daily use with her sons and broader family is a critical element of their health and wellbeing.

The impact of being able to speak, hear and listen to language is generational.

Through her Atlantic Fellowship, Faye will take a community care approach to the social and emotional wellbeing and mental health of individuals, through the development of an innovative mobile phone application.

In 2017 Faye has been recognised in the Who's Who of Australian Women and in 2014 was recognised in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 women of influence.

Damien Miller

Damien is an Australian career diplomat and the first Indigenous Australian to head an Australian diplomatic mission. He is the former Australian Ambassador to Denmark, Norway and Iceland, completing his four-year term in 2017.

A Gangulu man from the area of Mount Morgan, near Rockhampton in Central Queensland, Damien joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in 1995 and has held a number of DFAT roles across South East Asia, as well as serving as Director of the Afghanistan Section in 2009. In 2010, Damien was appointed Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Australia to Germany, before being named Ambassador to Denmark, Norway and Iceland in 2013.

While progress is being made on some socio-economic indicators, we need to develop innovative policy solutions to improve the wellbeing and advance the interests of the world’s Indigenous peoples.

Through his Atlantic Fellowship, Damien hopes to improve the Australian Government’s practical engagement on international Indigenous issues; encourage partnerships to improve Indigenous policy and encourage closer connections between Indigenous peoples in our region.

Leanne Miller

Leanne is a Yorta Yorta woman of the Dhulanyagen Ulupna Clan and brings a wealth of experience in Indigenous community development to the program.

Her work has focused on economic development, employment, community development, tourism and gender equity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls.

I am unafraid of initiating action based on need, sound advice and in the spirit of cooperation, as I believe it’s with many minds and hearts pulling together that great things, and small important things, do happen.

Currently Leanne holds two part-time roles, working with BP Australia to embed the delivery of BP’s Indigenous Employment Strategy across the businesses, as well as Executive Director of Koorie Women Mean Business (KWMB). Leanne’s work with KWMB focuses on the provision of research and project development support for women and girls at the community level.

As an Atlantic Fellow, Leanne hopes to establish a national alliance of Aboriginal women leading social and environmental responsible land based enterprises.

Yvonne O’Brien

Yvonne (Evie) has built a career working in adult teaching and tertiary education. A woman of Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngati Pikiao descent, Evie grew up in Auckland where she became an adult teacher in the Polytechnic sector. 

She has held a number of executive leadership roles within education institutions across New Zealand, with a particular focus on organisational change and improving outcomes for Māori students.

Having joined Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi as Deputy CEO in 2015, Evie relishes the opportunity to be part of New Zealand’s “quiet education revolution”. 

I love being part of something that is bigger than me and feel privileged to be working in an area that can and does have such a positive effect on people’s lives.

Evie was drawn to the Atlantic Fellows program to have the opportunity to reflect and learn more about Indigenous pedagogies and place-based leadership.  She hopes that she can drive social change through empowering Indigenous peoples. 

Dean Parkin

Dean believes in the power of bringing people and ideas together through conversation so that change is owned by those living it. He excels at working with people to co-design strategic change within their organisations and communities.

Since I first wrote about land rights as a seven-year old, my vision has been for one of an Australia that is at peace with its own identity.

An experienced independent management consultant, Dean has worked across the public, corporate, not-for-profit and political sectors. He has advised a range of clients on strategy, engagement and co-design, including the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Palladium, Coles, the Referendum Council and Jawun. In addition to extensive experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, he has commercial experience both in Australia and the UK.

Dean is from the Quandamooka peoples from Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in Queensland. He was involved in the negotiations leading to a Native Title determination in 2011 and continues to work with his community on this journey. Dean has a Bachelor of Arts (Politics and Journalism) from the University of Queensland.