NACCHO political news: Tony Abbott picks leaders for ‘the Indigenous dozen’ council

Abbott and the Mandine

TONY Abbott has recruited 12 of the most powerful business and indigenous figures in the country to provide advice on Aboriginal economic reform, including Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly and Rio Tinto managing director David Peever.

The council includes NACCHO’s  Dr Ngiare Brown, one of the first group of Aboriginal medical graduates in Australia

The Weekend Australian has obtained the full list of Mr Abbott’s hand-picked appointees to the Prime Minister’s indigenous council, which will be led by Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine and give him bold ideas to closing the disadvantage gap.

PATRICIA KARVELAS From: The Australian – See more

The membership is stacked with people who have business and reform experience, with the Prime Minister deliberately steering away from the usual faces in indigenous affairs.

Other appointees include Andrew Penfold, the chief executive of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, which provides scholarships for indigenous children to attend elite schools, and, as foreshadowed in The Australian, Peter Shergold, chancellor of the University of Western Sydney and former secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Indigenous panel Mrs Kelly described being asked to join the council as an honour and said she was grateful for the opportunity to contribute.

“My goal is to work with council members to drive actions to improve education, health and employment in indigenous communities,” the Westpac chief executive said. “Corporate Australia has an important role to play in doing more for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Leading indigenous members will include Richie Ah Mat, who is involved in the Cape York Welfare Reform agenda, and Bruce Martin, a Wik man from Aurukun and chief executive of Aak Puul Ngantam, an organisation that represents families in Cape York. Mr Abbott has also invited a giant of the reconciliation movement, Leah Armstrong, a Torres Strait Islander who is the chief executive of Reconciliation Australia.

However, Cape York leader Noel Pearson is not on the powerful council. The Weekend Australian can reveal he was approached prior to the election about participating but told Mr Abbott he had other priorities.”I told the Prime Minister … my preference was to work on school reforms for the benefit of disadvantaged children generally, rather than indigenous people alone,”

Mr Pearson said. “I think poor white kids deserve a good education as much as our own kids. I think Warren Mundine will do a good job leading the council on indigenous policy.”

Ngiare Brown, one of the first group of Aboriginal medical graduates in Australia, will participate, as will Kalgoorlie indigenous man Daniel Tucker, who is managing director of Carey Mining, the largest 100 per cent indigenous, privately owned and managed contracting company in Australia.

Koori woman Josephine Cashman, managing director and founder of Riverview Global Partners, has also been invited. Indigenous artist Djambawa Marawili of the Yolngu people will also have a seat at the table.

A spokeswoman for Mr Abbott said that in choosing members, the Prime Minister – in consultation with Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, parliamentary secretary on indigenous affairs Alan Tudge and Mr Mundine – considered both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians from all parts of Australia.

“The council brings a diversity of views and experience to the task of ensuring our programs achieve real, positive change in the lives of Aboriginal people – changes that can increase participation, preserve Aboriginal culture and build reconciliation,” the spokeswoman said.

“To do this we must ensure that children go to school, adults go to work and that the ordinary law of the land operates in Aboriginal communities.” The council will meet three times a year with the Prime Minister and senior ministers, starting next month, and will inform the policy implementation of the government. Mr Mundine said the council needed corporate heavyweights to deliver big reforms.

“Each member of the council brings skills, experiences and knowledge that we need to meet our terms of reference and end the disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia,” the former ALP national president said. Mr Tudge said: “This is an exceptionally capable group of individuals. They bring a wealth of experience including knowing what it takes to attract and support indigenous people into jobs, so critical to ending the disparity.” –

2 comments on “NACCHO political news: Tony Abbott picks leaders for ‘the Indigenous dozen’ council

  1. Mr Warren Mundine is a member of the Bundjalung and Gumbaynggirr people on the North Coast of New South Wales. He is the Executive Chairman of the Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce and has over 26 years’ experience working in the public, private and community sectors.

    Mr Richard Ah Mat is an indigenous man from the Torres Strait and Cape York and is currently involved in the Cape York Welfare Reform agenda. Mr Ah Mat is currently the Chair of the Cape York Land Council. Prior to this he worked for Comalco Mining in Weipa for 27 years.

    Ms Leah Armstrong is a Torres Strait Islander and is the CEO of Reconciliation Australia. Previously, Ms Armstrong established a not-for-profit company called Yarnteen. Ms Armstrong’s successful 18 year tenure as the Executive Director was acknowledged in 2012 when she was recognised in the 2012 Australian Financial Review/Westpac 100 Influential Women Awards.

    Dr Ngiare Brown is an Aboriginal woman from the south coast of New South Wales and one of the first group of Aboriginal medical graduates in Australia. Dr Brown has previously been Indigenous Health Advisor to the Federal Australian Medical Association and was Foundation CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.

    Ms Josephine Cashman is a Koori woman, a descendant of the Worimi people of New South Wales. Ms Cashman is the Managing Director and founder of Riverview Global Partners and has worked in private, government and not-for-profit sectors.

    Ms Gail Kelly is the Managing Director and CEO of Westpac. Ms Kelly was the co-founder of Jawun Indigenous Corporate Partnerships and is a non-executive director of the Business Council of Australia.

    Mr Djambawa Marawili AM is an indigenous artist and leader of the Yolngu Madarrpa people and the Baniyala/Yilpara homeland. In 1996 he won the prestigious National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Best Bark Painting Prize. Mr Marawili is also the Chairman of the Association of Northern Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists.

    Mr Bruce Martin is a Wik man from Aurukun and is the founder and current CEO of Aak Puul Ngantam, a Cape York organisation building sustainable development and representing families of Watson River south to the Kendall River.

    Mr David Peever is the Managing Director of Rio Tinto Australia. He is also the Chairman of the Business Council of Australia’s Economic Policy and Competitiveness Committee. Mr Peever is also a member of the Male Champions of Change Advisory Group and a non-executive Director of Cricket Australia.

    Mr Andrew Penfold is the current CEO of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. Prior to this, Mr Penfold had a successful career in international law and finance. Mr Penfold was awarded an Order of Merit by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

    Professor Peter Shergold AC is the Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney. Professor Shergold is also a current board member of the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence and a former Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Prior to this, he was the CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

    Mr Daniel Tucker is an indigenous man from Kalgoorlie and the founder and Managing Director of Carey Mining, the largest 100 per cent indigenous, privately-owned and managed contracting company in Australia. Mr Tucker was the 2012 Western region winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award.

  2. I would congratulate the PM for his foresight and commitment to a better Australia for the First Australians.
    I personally would like to see a Regional approach to capture the real heart of the problem for Aboriginal Australians. lets take the message to the people on a State by State process and conduct Regional meetings to be organized by key local Aboriginal organisations
    Regards Anthony Beezley 0432735340

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