MC & Keynotes
Founding Director and Chief Executive
Adele Cox is a Bunuba and Gija woman from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Adele works as an advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in a range of areas, specifically mental health and suicide prevention. She was previously engaged as a National Senior Consultant on the National Empowerment Project and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project and is also involved on state and national suicide prevention projects across Australia.
Beginning her career working as a broadcaster/journalist covering Indigenous-specific content as well as mainstream media, Adele has spent the majority of her working life devoted to advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. Adele has been involved in organising and contributing to large scale community festivals and events, such as National NAIDOC celebrations and the Stompem Ground Festivals and has also spent time working at Telethon Kids Institute as a Senior Research Officer on a range of projects, including leading the communications and dissemination of the WA Aboriginal Child Health Survey.
Later, Adele went on to provide input for large research projects focussed on Aboriginal health and suicide prevention, which also led to her involvement as an Academic at the University of Western Australia. Through her work on various committees and councils, Adele has been able to influence the way that programs and policies are developed and implemented to ensure that they reflect the current needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Adele is a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Leaders Group.
Adele is currently the Project Director of the National Indigenous Critical Response Service and inaugural Founding Director and Chief Executive of Thirrili Ltd.
First Peoples Disability Network
Damian Griffis is a Worimi man and a leading advocate for the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability.
Damian has been a central figure in the establishment of both the Aboriginal Disability Network NSW and First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN). Damian represents FPDN at regional, national and international forums.
In 2014, he won the Tony Fitzgerald (Community Individual) Memorial Award at the Australian Human Rights Awards.
Joseph Keawe‘aimoku Kaholokula, PhD
Professor and Chair of Native Hawaiian Health
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Dr. Keawe Kaholokula is a Professor and Chair of Native Hawaiian Health in the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
His research involves developing community-based and culturally relevant health promotion programs to address diabetes and cardiovascular disease inequities in Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders using community-based participatory research approaches. His research also examines how biological, psychosocial, and sociocultural factors interplay to affect their risk for and management of chronic diseases. He serves on several community boards of organizations with a mission to improve Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander health and is co-Chair for the Native Hawaiian Health Task Force.
He is also a member of Hale Mua o Kūali‘i, a Hawaiian cultural group dedicated to the revitalization of traditional values and practices.
June Oscar AO
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
June Oscar AO is a proud Bunuba woman from the remote town of Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia’s Kimberly region. She is a strong advocate for Indigenous Australian languages, social justice, women’s issues, and has worked tirelessly to reduce Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
June has held a raft of influential positions including Deputy Director of the Kimberley Land Council, chair of the Kimberley Language Resource Centre and the Kimberley Interpreting Service and Chief Investigator with WA’s Lililwan Project addressing FASD .
She was appointed to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (1990) and was a winner of the 100 Women of Influence 2013 in the Social Enterprise and Not For Profit category. In 2015 June received the Menzies School of Health Research Medallion for her work with FASD.
June has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from the University of Notre Dame, Broome, Western Australia, and is currently writing her Phd. June is a co-founder of the Yiramalay Wesley Studio School and is a Community member of the Fitzroy Valley Futures Governing Committee.
In February 2017, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Edith Cowen University.
June began her five-year term as Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner on April 3, 2017.
Chief Executive Officer of ABSTARR Consulting
Gregory Phillips is from the Waanyi and Jaru Aboriginal Australian peoples, and comes from Cloncurry and Mount Isa.
He is a medical anthropologist, has a PhD in psychology (‘Dancing With Power: Aboriginal Health, Cultural Safety and Medical Education’), a research master’s degree in medical science (‘Addictions and Healing in Aboriginal Country’; published as a book in 2003), and a bachelor degree in arts (Aboriginal Studies and Government majors).
Gregory has twenty years work experience in healing, alcohol and other drugs, youth empowerment, medical education and health workforce. He developed an accredited Indigenous health curriculum for all medical schools in Australia and New Zealand, founded the Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education (LIME) Network, and co-wrote a national Indigenous health workforce strategy. He established the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation Ltd in the wake of the federal apology to Indigenous Australians, has advised federal ministers on Indigenous health inequality, and was honoured in 2011 with an ADC Australian Leadership Forum Award.
Gregory is currently Chief Executive Officer of ABSTARR Consulting, and an Associate Professor and Research Fellow at The Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.
Dr Francesca Panzironi
CEO Anangu Ngangkari Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation
Dr Francesca Panzironi is Chief Executive Officer of the Aṉangu Ngangkaṟi Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation (ANTAC) established in 2012 with the ngangkaṟi – Aboriginal traditional healers – from the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands in South Australia.
Dr Panzironi’ s current position at ANTAC is the result of a four-year independent research process (2009-2012) that led to the establishment of ANTAC as the first Aboriginal traditional healers’ organization in Australia and the publication of Hand-in-Hand. Report on Aboriginal Traditional Medicine (2013) (available at http://antac.org.au/index.php/hand-in-hand/).
Director of the Anangu Ngangkari Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation
Debbie Watson is a Director of the Anangu Ngangkari Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation (ANTAC) . Debbie is a senior respected ngangkari from Pipaltjatjara in the APY lands, far north west of South Australia. Debbie is also co-founder of ANTAC leading the process for the formation of the first ngangkari healers’ organization in Australia.
Singer / Songwriter
Australian singer/songwriter Archie Roach emerged in the early ’90s fusing a folk-inspired sound with traditions from his indigenous heritage. His ARIA-winning debut album, Charcoal Lane, was named one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 50 albums of 1992. It was centred around Roach’s heartbreaking “Took the Child Away,” a deeply affecting ballad about his experience as one of the “Stolen Generation” of aboriginal children who were taken from their parents and placed in non-indigenous households. The song resonated throughout the country and received a Human Rights Achievement Award, marking the first time that the honour had been bestowed upon a songwriter. Over the coming decades, Roach and his long time musical and life partner, Ruby Hunter, would establish themselves as leading lights of Australian folk and aboriginal music.
Born in Framlingham Aboriginal Mission, near Warrnambool in southwestern Victoria, Roach was taken from his family at the age of three, along with two sisters, and sent to a Salvation Army orphanage. Although he had difficulties with his first two groups of foster parents, he found a home with a white family, Alec and Dulcie Cox, who had emigrated from Scotland to Melbourne. Through the influence of his step sister, Mary, and hearing a woman sing a Hank Williams song during a church service, Roach was inspired to pick up the guitar and begin writing songs. After receiving a letter from an older sister, Roach became enraged at the circumstances of his early life. Leaving the Cox’s home with his guitar and no money, he spent the next 14 years searching for his birth parents and for clues about his past. During this difficult period living on the streets of Sydney, Roach met Ruby Hunter, another aboriginal guitar player who had been stolen from her parents. Hunter would become his soulmate and the two eventually began to raise a family.
In the late ’80s, Roach and Hunter had formed the Aboriginal band the Altogethers and relocated from Sydney to Melbourne. Roach was discovered by Paul Kelly Band guitarist Steve Connolly, who heard Roach performing “Took the Children Away” on a local current affairs television show. Roach was asked to open several shows for Kelly in 1990 as he was recording his debut album. Following Charcoal Lane’s success, Roach spent the next few years recording and touring with high-profile acts like Joan Armatrading, Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, and Patti Smith. Album like 1993’s Jamu Dreaming and 1997’s Looking for Butter Boy continued to raise his profile. Roach was introduced to a global audience by Time Magazine, which sent a writer to Australia to cover the 2000 Sydney Olympics and ended up featuring the singer/songwriter in a cover story about the Stolen Generation. In 2002, he delivered both a new album, Sensual Being, as well as the soundtrack to the film Tracker. In 2005, he and Hunter collaborated with the Australian Art Orchestra on the album Ruby, which offered new material and artful reworkings of earlier songs. The latter part of the decade saw the release of both a new album, 2007’s Journey, and a collection of early, unreleased recordings called 1988.
The next decade would begin with tragedy when, in February 2010, Ruby Hunter died of a heart attack at the age of 54. Later that year, a grief-stricken Roach would suffer a stroke while on tour and, in the following months, was diagnosed with cancer, which resulted in the removal of half of his lung. He miraculously rebounded to record 2012’s powerful Into the Bloodstream. Four years later, in 2016, he delivered his tenth studio album, Let Love Rule..
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