Our Leaders

Our Leaders

First Nations Advisory Group

Orygen’s First Nations of Australia Advisory Group provides strategic advice to Orygen, based on the collective experience and knowledge of current and emerging realities and needs in First Nations communities. The group aims to promote First Nations collaboration in the development and implementation of any initiatives, policies or actions that may affect the lives of First Nations young people.

The group’s contribution ensures Orygen is culturally appropriate, effective and meets the needs of First Nations peoples.

Shawana Andrews is a Palawa Trawlwoolway woman and has recently been appointed Associate Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Melbourne.  Shawana is a social worker and a public health researcher and has 20 years’ experience working in Aboriginal health across the health and higher education sectors in both clinical and academic roles. Shawana worked at the intersection of community and health/welfare systems during her clinical career which involved identifying health care gaps and developing culturally safe and community-driven solutions such as the Western region Aboriginal child mental health program and the Royal Children’s Hospital Aboriginal child case management model. Her current research interests include Indigenous health and mental health, Aboriginal women’s experiences of family violence and cultural revitalisation. She is currently a chief investigator for the Safer Families Centre of Research Excellence, a five-year program funded by the NHMRC to lead research into family violence and an associate investigator for the Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future Study, funded by the Lowitja Institute and NHMRC, which is co-designing perinatal strategies for Aboriginal parents experiencing complex trauma.

 

Taneshia Atkinson is a Yorta Yorta woman from Shepparton, Victoria living on Turrbal and Yuggera country (Brisbane).

Taneshia joined the advisory group to contribute to strengthening the wellbeing of youth, and provide my worldview as an Aboriginal winyarr (woman). She is passionate about strengths-based approaches, empowering mob and self-determination - we are innovative, creative and resilient. She believes it is important that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices and heard and that real efforts are being made to remove structural and institutional discrimination. 

Having lived experienced of mental health challenges personally and witnessing her family navigate these challenges has made Taneshia incredibly passionate about wellbeing. Her experiences have shown her the detrimental impact mental health issues and poor wellbeing and associated stigma can have, but also the freedom and empowerment that comes from effectively managing it.

Taneshia is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) and have worked on programs with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, and in both federal and state government.

 

Josh Cubillo is a descendent of the Larrakia and Wadjigan peoples of the Northern Territory. Josh is passionate about Indigenous education and has been involved in the education sector for the past decade teaching History and developing Indigenous curriculum. With a keen interest in ‘Learning on Country’ pedagogy, Josh is seeking to understand how this concept can be applied to the urban secondary settings through his doctoral studies.

Josh currently works in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences in Indigenous development at the University of Melbourne and has an invested interest in embedding Indigenous knowledges into the curriculum across the faculty. Additionally, Josh’s role involves him working with the Associate Dean (Indigenous), to increase the Indigenous workforce in the faculty, increase student enrolments, and support Indigenous student transitions from undergraduate to postgraduate courses.

 

Joyce Doyle (Clark-Morgan) is a Yorta Yorta woman from Shepparton, Victoria.

Throughout her working life, spanning over 40 years, Joyce has had a significant positive impact on the health and wellbeing of her community. Working in areas of health, education, leadership and cultural recognition. Her strengths lie in the support she provides her community, encouraging empowerment and self-determination leading by example.

The strongest resources Joyce has relied on is the Rumbalara Football and Netball club which provides a core base for cultural identity and safety for the community. For Joyce, she says this journey has been slow and she has watched her community youth suffer in silence and rely on family strengths and support. She feels there is a huge gap in resources available to support the young people and their social and emotional wellbeing via a strong cultural setting such as Rumbalara Football and Netball Club.

 

Warwick Padgham is a Taungurung man and the Manager Indigenous Student Programs at the Melbourne Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and is responsible for the recruitment and support of Indigenous PhD students within the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at The University of Melbourne. Further this to this, Warwick provides advice regarding Indigenous graduate development across the university and its partners, as well as working on projects and activities specific to Indigenous doctoral advancement nationally and globally.

Prior to his current role, Warwick was project officer for the Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education (LIME) Network, predominantly working on the LIME Connection conferences.

 

Matthew Heffernan is a Pintupi-Luritja man from Central Australia and is currently in his last semester of a Bachelor of Information Technology at Charles Darwin University. He is passionate about using information technology to create social change and specialises in software and web development.

In addition to his experiences with tech, Matthew has been involved with local and state governments at project and policy levels and has also been involved with youth mental health and local suicide prevention initiatives in Darwin, Northern Territory.

 

 

Scott Wilson is a Gooniyandi man from Muladja community and a Gadgerong man from Kununurra. His parents moved to Broome which allowed him to grow up on Yawuru country in Western Australia. In 2006, Scott was sent to Hale boarding school in Perth to complete his secondary education. At the age of 16 he represented Australia with the National Indigenous football team in a tour to Papua New Guinea with the AFL.

In 2010, he was awarded Indigenous Youth of the Year, and went on to study at the University of Western Australia. In 2015, he graduated with his bachelor’s degree majoring in Anthropology, completing work placements with the Native Title agency, KRED Enterprises connecting with communities across the Kimberley. After graduating in 2016, Scott helped implement an early childhood program called “Our Mob as First Educators Program” in Broome. In 2017, he became an operator for FMG to understand the mining industry. In 2018, he was awarded a graduate program with Prime Minister and Cabinet, working with the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government.

He now lives in Sydney working with various youth organisations, such as Aurora Education Foundation, Year 13, and headspace as an advocate for Australian youth mental health. Scott has a passion for creativity and storytelling and wants to produce content. He is currently balancing work with his own company, called Ice Cream Productions. His company is currently developing a web series, an Aboriginal Superhero universe and a cartoon series, alongside managing company events.

orygen, Strategic First Nations Development Advisor

Leah Johnston

Leah has worked in health promotion and public health research evaluation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations since 2000. Leah’s work involves extensive community engagement that seeks to inform health program design, policy and the manner in which health programs are funded and evaluated.

As Orygen, Strategic First Nations Development Advisor, Leah works closely with community, including young First Nations people, to enhance young people’s social and emotional wellbeing.