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Ethics Council established for the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

Posted on: 13 January, 2010
Issue: Vol 10 No 1, January 2010 - March 2010
Related to Ethics Policies

The inaugural Ethics Council has been established for the new representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. The six members of the Ethics Council were announced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma on 4 January 2010. The Ethics Council will be responsible for developing and maintaining standards for the Congress. The Ethics Council will apply a merit-based process to shortlist candidates for election as members of the National Executive and then be responsible for ensuring the ethical conduct of representatives of the organisation.

The Steering Committee decided that the Ethics Council should include Indigenous people of high standing, with a chair, and a gender balance among their members. A number of individuals were canvassed and invited to submit an expression of interest and statement of claim in order to be considered by the Steering Committee. One member of the Steering Committee or its Secretariat will sit on the inaugural Ethics Council and one member on the interim National Executive. Tom Calma was nominated and accepted the position of the Steering committee representative on the Ethics Council.

The Steering Committee, working with the Ethics Council, will finalise the interim National Executive to lead the organisation through its development phase in 2010. It is anticipated that by the end of January 2010 the Steering Committee will have finalised its work and that the National Congress will have been incorporated with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

Commissioner Calma said “Appointment of the Ethics Council members takes us one step closer to having a representative voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for the first time in five years”. He added “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are now one step closer to having our future in our hands”.

The Ethics Council members are:

Professor Larissa Behrendt [PhD] – a Eualeyai/Kamillaroi woman from NSW. Prof Behrendt graduated from Harvard Law School with a Master of Law and a Doctorate. She is admitted to the Supreme Court of the ACT and NSW as a barrister and Professor of Law and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology, Sydney. Professor Behrendt is a widely published academic and researcher, a publisher of two novels and a director of Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Mr Tom Calma
– an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group whose traditional lands are south west of Darwin and on the Coburg Peninsula in Northern Territory. He has been involved in Indigenous affairs for over 35 years, including in the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner since 2004.

Mr Wesley Enoch – an acclaimed award winning theatre director originally from Stradbroke Island in Queensland – Nunukul Nuggi. Wesley works almost exclusively in Indigenous theatre and focuses wholly on cultural and social engagement through story telling. Wesley’s extensive experience in directing, writing, script development, acting and dancing spans two decades.

Ms Mary Graham – a Kombu-merri person on her father’s side and also affiliated with the Waka Waka group through her mother, both groups in Queensland. She has lectured and tutored on subjects in Aboriginal history, politics, and comparative philosophy at the University of Queensland and at other educational institutions around the country.

Ms Nalwarri Ngurruwutthun – a senior Cultural Education Advisor and an advocator for bilingual education Nalwarri’s extensive experience in teaching, curriculum development, bilingual education and school management spans over three decades. Nalwarri’s clan is Munyuku and her homeland is Rurrangala in Arnhem Land. She is also a member of the Northern Territory Indigenous Education Council. Nalwarri carries on the vision of her elders continuing to deliver quality culturally appropriate bilingual education to young people in Yirrkala/ Laynhapuy Homelands School.

Professor Lester-Irabinna Rigney [PhD] – a senior academic with more than 15 years of experience teaching in universities and schools. He is a descendant of the Narungga, Kaurna and Ngarrindjeri Nations. He is well published and is internationally recognised for his work in Indigenous Education and Research methodologies. He has worked with Indigenous peoples on education across the Pacific in Taiwan, Canada and New Zealand.

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