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International Graduate Centre of Education

2016 Indigenous Leaders Conference: Engagement and the Power of Choice

  • Conference

Our third Indigenous Leaders Conference, 'Engagement and the Power of Choice' will be held at Charles Darwin University Casuarina Campus over two days from November 10 - 11, 2016. This event follows the highly successful 2014 and 2015 Indigenous Leadership Conferences, which attracted over 500 local, national and international participants.

This major event in our annual calendar creates broadened and deepened spaces of engagement for industry stakeholders to collaboratively advance quality public policies, programs and practices that address Indigenous disadvantage in the Northern Territory, particularly as relates to remote contexts.

The conference brings together a diverse range of community members, education and health workers, allied stakeholders and industry sectors to advance progressive evidence-based practice in complex socioeconomic environments. Members of the research community will also be challenged to contribute research evidence that translates policy intent to actual outcomes.

Keynote and Guest Speakers

Jonathan NadjiJonathan Yarnamarna Nadji

Senior Ranger – Compliance and Wildlife Operations Unit, Kakadu

Powerpoint Presentation - Natasha Nadji

My name is Jonathan Yarnamarna NADJI.  I am 52 years old.  I work as a senior ranger in the Crocodile and Coastal Surveillance section of the Compliance and Wildlife Operations Unit of Kakadu National Park. I have worked in Kakadu since 1985.  During this time I have worked as District Ranger, Cultural Advisor, and Senior Ranger. My duties have included general ranger duties in the districts, crocodile management, and compliance work. During the period of joint management I have been a Kakadu National Park board of management member, vice chairman and chairman. 

I am a traditional owner of the Bunidj Clan.  My father is Bill Neidjie.  My grandfather was as a senior Traditional Owner of the the Bunidj Clan, along with great grandfather and so on.  My father or bunyi was born on Bunidj country on the banks of the East Alligator in Arnhem Land at a place called Alawanydajawany or Smith’s Landing around the mid 1920’s.  Bunyi lived as a young boy at Ubirr with his mother (my grandmother).  When he was 12 or 13 years old he moved to Cape Don light house area on Cobourg Peninsula or Gurig National Park.  My mother is from the Myurram Clan that covers the area from Wunyu (Sandy Beach) to Malay Bay, Coombe Point, and the Murgenella Timber Mill camp area in Arnhem Land.

A big part the Bunidj clan area lies in Kakadu National Park along the East Alligator River and along the coastal area to Field Island.  The Bunidj clan area also extends into Arnhem Land on the eastern bank of the East Alligator River.  Kakadu is a jointly managed Commonwealth Reserve.  It is about 20,000 square kilometres in size.


Linda TurnerLinda Turner

Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation

Powerpoint Presentation

I am L.Turner, more widely known as LT, I am known as LT because my name is the same name as a Warumungu Elder who passed away many years ago (Kumanjayi). I am a local to the Barkly Region, having been born at Renner Springs (north of Tennant Creek) and part of the Walrmanpa tribe with connections to Warumungu, Warlpiri, Jingulu and Mudburra people. I have spent most of my working life in the Barkly region and am well connected to many communities in the region. I have a passion for Human Rights and Social Justice for Aboriginal people, and all peoples. I also have a particular passion for working to reduce and prevent the current high levels of Family Violence and Child Protection issues in the Barkly Region.

In 2003, I was awarded a Centenary of Federation Medal for work in the preservation of Aboriginal Language and Culture in the Barkly Region. In 2008, I graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Indigenous Community Management & Development from Curtin University of Technology. WA. I have undertaken Diplomacy Training on the Rights of Indigenous peoples with the Fred Hollows Foundation and was humbled to win the International Women’s Day NT Council for Human Rights Education for Rural Women in 2012.

In my own personal time I am working on an Aboriginal heritage oral history documentary project for young women of my family group from the Warlmanpa tribe. This involves documenting the handing down of knowledge, songs, dance and stories from Warlmanpa Women Elders to the young women, the filming of the documentary will be done on country. The final product will be archived for future generations of Warlmanpa women to access.

Particia FrankPatricia Frank

Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation

My name is Patricia, I am a local Indigenous woman from the Barkly Region, I am a mother of 3 and work for the local Aboriginal Medical Service – Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation.

Anyinginyi is committed to strengthening and supporting Indigenous individuals, families and communities to improve their health and social wellbeing. Anyinginyi is the only Indigenous service provider in the Yapakurlangu Region to provide a set of services that employs a community development approach and a holistic planning method in relation to Family Violence in the region.  The Yapakurlangu boundaries are 600kms south of Katherine and 500kms north of Alice Springs and the region covers an area of 300,073 square kilometers, east to the Queensland border.

Over many years I have worked in the sector of health, community services and always alongside our people on a grass roots level – with a strong community engagement role.

Currently, I am a Director for assorted organisations, I empower other young people and people around me to take the lead in community issues as well as role models within their family setting. Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation (AHAC) is based in Tennant Creek and services the Yapakurlangu or Barkly Region of the Northern Territory. 


Jeanette KerrJeanette Kerr

Deputy Chief Executive Officer Operations, Territory Families

Ms Jeanette Kerr joined the agency in September 2016. Previously, Jeanette spent 28 years as a Police Officer serving in a range of operational, criminal investigation and public safety roles in Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs. Prior to joining the agency she was Assistant Commissioner Southern Operations.

Jeanette has held various leadership roles within NT Police namely, Superintendent, Commander of the Strategic Planning Command for the Police Fire & Emergency Services (PFES), Commander of the regional and remote Northern Command, Director PFES College and Assistant Commissioner, Crime & Specialist Services. 

Jeanette holds a Bachelor of Social Science, Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Bachelor of Policing - Investigations (Distinction), Graduate Certificate in Applied Management, Master of Leadership and Management. In 2013, she was awarded a Wakefield Scholarship to attend Cambridge University (UK) and has completed a Masters degree in Criminology and Executive Management.


Tom CalmaProfessor Tom Calma

Chancellor, University of Canberra

Powerpoint Presentation

Dr Calma has been involved in Indigenous affairs at a local, community, state, national and international level and worked in the public sector for 40 years and is currently on a number of boards and committees focusing on rural and remote Australia, health, education, justice reinvestment, research, reconciliation and economic development. These include the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre, Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, Poche Centres for Indigenous Health Network, The Charles Perkins Trust, Ninti-One Ltd/Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, NSW Justice Reinvestment for Aboriginal Young People Campaign, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health, and Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Peoples (RECOGNISE).

Dr Calma is Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia. Hewas appointed National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking in March 2010 to lead the fight against tobacco use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

From 2004 to 2010 Dr Calma was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. He also served as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009.

Dr Calma is a strong advocate for Indigenous rights and empowerment, and in addition to the Close the Gap Campaign, has been instrumental in establishment of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples, development of the inaugural National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy, and promotion of Justice Reinvestment.

He is engaged as an expert consultant to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (UWA); is a Chief Investigator on the ARC Project 'Reducing Incarceration using Justice Reinvestment: A Case Study' (ANU); is a member of the Review Panel of the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research of the University of South Australia; and is a member of the Indigenous Research Ethics Guidelines Review Working Committee of the National Health & Medical Research Council.


Robert SommervilleAssociate Professor Robert Somerville AM FAIM,

Chief Executive Officer at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education

Powerpoint Presentation

Associate Professor Robert Somerville AM was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (Director) of Batchelor Institute for Indigenous Tertiary Education on the 02 February 2015. Prior to joining BIITE Robert was in the Western Australian Education system as a senior executive leading their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander provision. He also spent a number of years as a regional Director and Superintendent throughout Western Australia.

Robert is a Martu man from Jigalong in Western Australia with extensive family links throughout the Gascoyne-Murchison region of Western Australia (WA). Robert’s mother and grandmother were a part of the ‘Stolen Generation’ with his mother and her siblings spending most of their lives at Sisters Kate’s Home in Queens Park (Perth).

For more than 30 years, Robert has developed a wide range of policies and programs reflecting the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the community, state and national levels. He was responsible for the development of the two pre-eminent policies that guided national education direction for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from 2003 until 2013. He has an extensive background in education, training, employment and youth development as well as significant experience in leadership and management.

Robert is also a Wing Commander and from 2012 until 2014 commanded the RAAF’s Cadet program in Western Australia. In 2015 his Wing was awarded the Air Force Trophy for the most efficient Wing in Australia. He is also a qualified multi-engine pilot and parachutist.


Mark RoseProfessor Mark Rose PhD M.Ed.Admin. B.A. DipT

Chair of Batchelor Institute for Indigenous Tertiary Education

Powerpoint Presentation

Mark Rose is traditionally linked to the Gunditjmara Nation of western Victoria.  With a thirty-nine year career in education Mark has contributed to a broad range of educational settings within the State, nationally and internationally. 

Mark has consulted regularly with Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations both nationally and internationally.  For over a decade Mark taught in predominantly postgraduate programs at RMIT University’s Faculty of Business here in Australia as well as Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. 

At a state and national level and with community endorsement Mark has sat on five ministerial advisory committees.  In 2003 – 2005 Mark co-chaired the Victorian Implementation Review of Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.  In 2008 Mark moved to VAEAI as General Manager during the WIPC: E Conference and assumed the position of Chair of Indigenous Knowledge Systems at Deakin University in 2008 and progressed the proposition of Indigenous Knowledge as a knowledge system.  In 2013 Mark commenced as Executive Director, Indigenous Strategy and Education at La Trobe University.

In 2015 La Trobe University mandated for all students a one hour on-line cultural awareness program. Mark currently chairs the Batchelor Indigenous Institute of Tertiary Education Council.

Mark currently holds following the positions,

  • Vice President of VAEAI,
  • Chair of Batchelor Indigenous Institute of Tertiary Education,
  • Chair of the Koorie Academy of Excellence,
  • Chair of Toorong Marnong,
  • Chair ACARA (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority)
  • Indigenous Advisory Group,
  • Delegate to National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples,
  • Board member of VCAA (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority),
  • Board member MATSITI (More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teaching
  • Initiative),
  • Board member ATSIMA (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics
  • Alliance)
  • Member of the School Council of Alpine School of Student Leadership.


Professor Peter BuckskinProfessor Peter Buckskin Hon. D.Ed., PSM, FACE

Dean of Aboriginal Engagement and Strategic Projects, UniSA

Powerpoint Presentation

Professor Peter Buckskin is a Narungga man from the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia.  Peter has worked in leadership positions at the University of South Australia for the last ten years and is currently the Dean: Aboriginal Engagement and Strategic Projects.

Peter began his career as a teacher 38 years ago and has since served as an administrator and bureaucrat, working in the senior executive service at both state and federal jurisdictions.  Throughout his career Peter’s passion has been the pursuit of educational excellence for Aboriginal students.

Peter’s international work has involved being appointed to the Australian National Commission to UNESCO for a term, and the 2009 Working Group of Experts to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples responsible to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.  He is currently an Executive Member of the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC).

In 2015, the World Indigenous Nations University (WINU) awarded Peter the Honorary Doctorate of Education for his life-long commitment and outstanding contributions to Indigenous education locally, nationally and internationally.

In recognition of his work Peter received the Commonwealth Public Service Medal in the 2001 Australia Day Honours, the Frank G Klassen Award for Leadership and Contribution to Teacher Education from the International Council on Education for Teaching (ICET) in 2003, and the National Deadly Award for Outstanding Achievement in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education in 2005.

In 2007 Peter was elected as a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators and in 2009 he received the UNESCO Clubs – Adelaide Chapter Achievement Award.

Peter currently serves as Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Higher Education Consortium, Chair of the South Australian Aboriginal Education and Training Consultative Council, Co-Chair of Reconciliation South Australia and member of the Australian Research Council’s Advisory Council.


Leeanne CatonLeeanne Caton

Executive Director, Office of Aboriginal Affairs

Powerpoint Presentation

Leeanne Caton is a Kalkadoon woman who grew up in Darwin. She has family and cultural connections throughout the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland. 

Leeanne has worked for the Australian, Western Australian and Northern Territory Governments, as well as in the private sector. She has over 30 years’ experience in Aboriginal health, education, employment, social justice, housing and economic development. 

Before joining the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Leeanne was Managing Director of Perth-based Aboriginal owned and managed housing company, Noongar Mia Mia Pty Ltd. In her role at Noongar Mia Mia, she took the company from a Government funded “Social Housing” entity to a self- sustainable Commercial Company.

Leeanne has been the Executive Director of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs since July 2015.




Conference day one

Conference Program

Workshop #1

Yalmay YunupinguLegitimate Learning Through the Richness of Culturally Based Metaphors 

Presented by: Yalmay Yunupingu, Bronwyn Rossingh and Djuwalpi Marika

In the community of Yirrkala in North East Arnhem land, metaphors play an important role in explaining cultural foundations in the school for teachers and students and in the wider community. Metaphors are also powerful in explaining and understanding Western systems and the way that Yolngu people are impacted by such systems. 

There are many ways that metaphors can be applied in both Yolngu and Western worlds.  This adaptability of concepts highlights the rich and important foundations that are embedded within the cultural meaning to provide legitimate learning across Yolngu and Western domains.  

In this presentation, a number of metaphors are described that are meaningful across diverse dimensions.


Workshop #2

Evonne MitjarranjiEmpowering our future leaders through mentoring

Presented by: Evonne Mitjarrandi, Aaron Wunungmurra, Beulah Munyarryun, Delvine Munyarryun, Eliani Boton

Many students living in remote areas of Australia fail to complete their studies due to a combination of multiple factors, such as high teacher turnover, lack of effective teaching and learning strategies to support students’ attendance and retention, as well as a lack of Indigenous aspirations being reflected in the school curriculum.

Aiming to deliver practical support for students, school-based mentoring programs may hold the key to providing students with necessary goals and objectives, while also offering students opportunities to strengthen their unique cultural identities. The inclusion of cultural components in mentoring activities is a strategy that can be applied to help students develop self-esteem and confidence to realise their potential. These elements can impact positively on students’ motivation to learn and encourage them to develop greater expectations for their future.

Although cultural activities have not been typically incorporated in school mentoring programs, developing students’ identity and culture has been shown to increase positive outcomes for Indigenous students, while giving them ownership of this process. Mentoring in schools can be a complex process, as it requires a lot of planning, working collaboratively with teachers and implementation with real commitment and integrity. This presentation draws on the experiences of community-based mentors engaged through the Whole of Community Engage initiative at Charles Darwin University. It explores how mentors can use their leadership abilities to inspire and build resiliency in youth.

By developing strong foundations, where teachers and mentors work collaboratively, education becomes a life-long commitment for all involved. Students feel empowered to aim higher in their studies and ultimately make a difference in their own community by aspiring to become leaders themselves to support future generations.

Workshop #3

Tristan Duggie

What are the common deeper issues impacting remote Northern Territory communities and how can these be resolved long term?

Presented by: Tristan Duggie

There are many issues, but I will focus on one issue which has been a key issue for education. As a senior education and community leader, but also as the member for my area involved in the First Circles Indigenous consultation body, I would like to speak about the importance of jobs because it is linked to education and to the health of my people. Education is important, but jobs are also important.

In the NT most of the schools are in remote or very remote communities, and the issues for the education system are in these areas. Yet, we do not have many Indigenous teachers teaching Aboriginal children.

Why is this still happening after 40 years?  In what ways can we fix this problem and what might be new ways (or old ways) of thinking that is required?


Workshop #4

Professor Bob Boughton‘Yes I Can’ campaign through the Literacy for Life Foundation.

Presented by: Professor Bob Boughton, Evaluator 'Yes I can' community literacy campaign (Literacy for Life Foundation) with Deborah Durnan, Foundation Advisor and Tannia Edwards, 'Tes I can' facilitator

English language literacy levels in rural and remote Aboriginal communities are very low across Australia. This causes major problems when communities want to improve their circumstances through accessing government and non-government agencies and services where English is the dominant and often only language of written communication. Strategies to raise literacy levels in Aboriginal Australia, which are currently focused almost entirely on formal schooling for children and young people, have had minimal impact on overall literacy levels. At the same time, the only opportunities for adults who have not gained their literacy through schooling to ‘catch up’ are through accredited basic education courses and workplace-based literacy instruction offered through the VET system. These programs have attrition rates as high as 80-90% and, like the schooling strategy, are having minimal impact on population literacy rates.

In 2012, an Aboriginal community in western NSW began experimenting with a new model for building community literacy, a mass campaign model developed in Cuba which had been successfully deployed in 30 countries around the world, including in Timor-Leste. The campaign, known internationally by its Spanish name, Yo Si Puedo (Yes I Can)  follows a three-phase model. Several months are spent in Phase One, before classes begin, engaging with the community and establishing local leadership structures, recruiting and training local staff, and undertaking a community literacy survey. Phase Two consists of 64 lessons led by local facilitators, using model lessons taught via DVD, which bring people to a the bottom of Level Two of the Australian Core Skills Framework. The third phase, post-literacy, engages participants in a range of activities and workshops tailored to local needs and interests, where people become more practiced at using their newly-gained literacy to gain further skills and experience and address issues of importance to them.

Following initial success in one community, the campaign has now spread across the Murdi Paaki region and is currently operating in four communities, with more expected to join as more funding becomes available. The successes have been quite dramatic, with over 120 people completing the campaign classes, and a community retention rate ranging from 65 – 85%. There is also a substantial and growing body of evidence of the flow-on benefits to the individuals, families and communities who participate in the campaign.

The initial pilot phase was run through the University of New England under the leadership of a national Aboriginal steering committee, established with the support of the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s National Indigenous Health Research Institute. This committee then secured corporate and government support to establish a new national Aboriginal-led organisation, the Literacy for Life Foundation (LFLF), to upscale the campaign, while UNE continued to provide monitoring and evaluation services, and conduct research on the progress of the campaign and its impacts in the participating communities. This ongoing research is now supported by an ARC Linkage Grant. In this presentation, the UNE Research Team leader, Bob Boughton will be joined by LFLF’s National Campaign Coordinator Deborah Durnan, and Tannnia Edwards, who has worked as a local coordinator, trainer and facilitator in two of the participating communities. They will speak in more detail about their experiences with the campaign and discuss with workshop participants whether it might be an appropriate model to use in the NT.

Workshop #5

Dean Yibarbuk

What do we know about remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community engagement in education settings?: Implications for strategy development in tertiary education

Presented by: Dean Yibarbuk, James A. Smith, Millie Olcay & John Guenther

Genuine community engagement is heralded as an important process when engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in discussion about education. This has been repeatedly emphasised in numerous policy documents, particularly those relating to remote education contexts. Whilst it is broadly acknowledged that community engagement is best approached as a ‘bottom-up’ endeavour that is participatory and developmental in nature, there is relatively little information about what this looks and feels like in a practical sense. Evidence suggests that the physical, social, cultural, economic and political landscapes of remote Aboriginal communities differ markedly and that unique place-based approaches to community engagement are likely to work best. We argue that this understanding is important if community engagement practices are to be effectively implemented across the education continuum, including tertiary education settings. We also assert that community engagement practices that explicitly link early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary education levels will better support improved education outcomes over the longer-term. This is important as each education sector is approaching the concept of community engagement in different ways.

In this paper, we draw on current academic scholarship, grey literature, government policies and reflections on recent experiences in the education system  to explain what is currently known about good practice approaches to remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community engagement. We will discuss the respective implications for future strategy development, particularly in relation to enhancing community engagement with remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through tertiary education settings.

Workshop #6

Valda Shannon

The Whole of Community Engagement Initiative research and evaluation process: Both ways, together.

Presented by: Valda Shannon and Cat Street

Partnership approaches are often discussed as a determinant of sustainability in Indigenous community development. Historically, they have not legitimately equalised ‘power’ loci between Indigenous communities and programmers.

This presentation explores how an innovative partnership model was used in the Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) Initiative. The cultural skills and experience of community leaders were embraced throughout the development of the Initiative at all points in time. Indigenous cultural metaphors, stories and songlines and more mainstream, evidence-based evaluation methods and approaches were considered to be equally valid and relevant, and were rigorously applied in practice. This approach to partnership, which was the foundation of all WCE processes, led to high retention of Indigenous staff members and amplification of community perspectives throughout project processes. Just as importantly, it led to a number of sustainable project outcomes relating to Indigenous aspirations for higher education being achieved.

The Indigenous staff members concerned took on ambassador roles to support and encourage others in their communities to aspire to further and higher education. This work lays the foundations for a new, more productive and sustainable model of partnership within Indigenous communities. Although further discussion about practical considerations is warranted, the full inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in program processes has been demonstrated as an effective method to support Indigenous community leadership. 

Workshop #7

Whole Of Community Engagement Team

Whole of Community Engagement as productive intercultural partnership

Presented by: Whole of Community Engagement Team

It has been routine for many years for researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and advocates to assert that progress in Indigenous affairs depends on working in partnership with ‘the Indigenous community’, and to claim that their services are provided in such partnership. The only alternative has been Indigenous control. 

The Whole of Community Engagement initiative has exceeded the rhetoric to work in a true partnership of non-Indigenous researchers with researchers, mentors, education advocates and elders from every community in which it has had a presence.  The interculturality of the relationship has coloured every aspect of the project, including governance, meeting procedure, discussion and decision-making style, communication of respect and negotiation of dispute. It has variously invigorated and vexed, informed, added to and detracted from the work, and ultimately led to the success of the project, and more sustainable outcomes.

This paper outlines the dynamics of the relationship, the principles of interaction revealed, and the costs and benefits, and seeks principles that may guide such intercultural partnership in Indigenous affairs into the future.

Workshop #8

Tracy WoodroffeIndigenous Leadership – Where?

Presented by: Tracy Woodroffe, Lecturer and PhD candidate

If leadership feels imposed then it probably isn’t leadership! So, how does this play out for Indigenous educators? Education is an area quite sparsely populated by Indigenous people. With so few Indigenous educators, who will also take on the extra responsibility of leadership?

We all know the many reasons why people choose to disengage, but we don’t all know the theory and complexity behind the issues. My presentation will explore this in more detail and highlight the many opportunities for Indigenous people to thrive in education in the Northern Territory. The presentation will connect with my current PhD studies into the importance of Indigenous knowledge in teacher education.




Guest presentation

Whole Of Community Engagement TeamNavigating community engagement within remote Indigenous further education contexts in the Northern Territory

Presented by: Whole of Community Engagement Team

Community engagement is often cited as a critical component of working with Indigenous communities in both Australia and other countries. Ideally, this involves engaging in ‘bottom-up’ approaches that scope, identify, and subsequently respond to, community needs and aspirations.

Community engagement is usually participatory and developmental in nature. It is often used as a means to shape policy and program development, scope research approaches, and support enhanced service delivery in a range of settings. Partnerships and resultant opportunities and actions are a central part of what good community engagement has come to represent. However, the physical, social, cultural, economic and political contexts in which community engagement occurs can be different. As such, there is no definitive approach to what community engagement both ‘looks’ and ‘feels’ like within different Indigenous community contexts.

In this symposium, we bring together a series of presentations relating to the planning and implementation of the Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) initiative funded through the Australian Government Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP). The WCE initiative has been led by the Office of Pro Vice Chancellor – Indigenous Leadership at Charles Darwin University in partnership with the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education and the Northern Territory Department of Education. This is a multi-site participatory action research project which aims to build the aspiration, expectation and capacity of remote Indigenous communities to participate in further education. Information and case studies to be presented are based on a team effort involving Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff working side-by-side, and reflects ongoing community engagement processes with a sustainable partnership development focus.

Workshop #9

Jimmy Langdon

Understanding the formal and informal roles and high-level community participation of Warlpiri leaders of Yuendumu: implications and inequities

Presented by:  Jimmy Langdon, Gretchen Enis & Lisa Watts

At the remote community of Yuendumu in the Northern Territory, community-based staff of the Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) Initiative identified that Warlpiri leaders are integral to building the social, economic and educational foundations through driving community driven processes which forms their unique leadership style. A Social Network Analysis (SNA) examined the formal network of leadership at Yuendumu by calculating the average number of Warlpiri leaders formally represented on a board of a local organisation. The results showed the high level of unpaid community participation of Warlpiri leaders, which would not be found or expected of people living in urban settings. Quantitative data also explored the employment networks of Yuendumu, which showed that Warlpiri leaders were rarely employed at senior or middle management levels of local organisations.  This presentation will highlight the mismatch between the inequitable representation of Warlpiri leaders on local management across all sectors, the underdevelopment of pathways to accommodate local people driven styles of management and the expectations of Warlpiri leaders.

Qualitative approaches from the perspective of Warlpiri leaders explain how leaders cope with this abnormal expectation that brings to the forefront, the significance of the informal role of Warlpiri leadership. Community leaders and members constantly connect and interact with one another in their day to day life, navigating social pressures and devising solutions to address current day issues. The informal activity of Warlpiri leaders and how they interconnect to strive for self-determination is the cornerstone of Warlpiri leadership that is even more demanding than their formal roles. 

Workshop #10

Vanessa Davies 

Self-determination and leadership in a remote Indigenous research context: The story of Research Us

Presented by: Vanessa Davis, Ken Lechleitner, Denise Foster, Aurelie Girard, Donna Stephens, Millie Olcay and James Smith

Evidence suggests that there is a long history of non-Indigenous people conducting research on Indigenous people. Recent scholarship has argued that the involvement and leadership of Indigenous people through Indigenous research in their communities increases the cultural and contextual specificity of the research findings. This is particularly relevant in remote Indigenous communities across Australia.

In August 2015, a Remote Indigenous Researcher Forum (RIRF) was planned and delivered in partnership between Charles Darwin University and Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education. This was supported through the Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) initiative. It involved bringing together 27 remote Indigenous researchers from across the Northern Territory and Torres Strait Islands to provide a collaborative forum to share and discuss research issues and strategies important to them. Key outcomes associated with RIRF were the establishment of Research “Us” Aboriginal Corporation (a structural entity) by December 2015; and the subsequent development of a Memorandum of Understanding between Research “Us” and the Office of Pro Vice Chancellor – Indigenous Leadership at Charles Darwin University. This reflects both a commitment and agreement to continue to work in partnership within remote Indigenous research contexts in the Northern Territory. This presentation is about this journey. It is a story about self-determination and leadership and how Research “Us” provides a vehicle for the engagement of community-based researchers to conduct, manage and monitor participative research opportunities in remote Indigenous contexts. It demonstrates that Indigenous leadership with self-determination in mind is essential to conducting culturally respectful, ethical and meaningful research and evaluation at the grassroots community level.

Workshop #11

Ben van Gelderen

‘Growing Our Own - A two-way approach to teacher preparation for Northern Territory Catholic schools’ is an ambitious, long-term vision to train a new generation of Indigenous teachers for remote Indigenous schools whilst maintaining the intercultural ambitions of local communities

Presented by: Ben van Gelderen and students

Established in 2009, pre-service teachers are supported by an on-site coordinator and CDU lecturer who makes fortnightly visits to deliver course content and assignment preparation. Students are also mentored by their ‘team teaching’ partner in the practical development of teaching skills in their role as ‘Assistant Teacher’.

The workshop will be an interactive panel-style discussion, as Growing Our Own students discuss and interview representatives from Catholic Education Office and CDU concerning the on-going strengths and potential of the program.



Workshop #12

Kerry RomanisDirect Instruction: The Angurugu experience

Presented by: Kerry Romanis et al, Angurugu School

Direct Instruction is an ESL program that has been designed and modified over the last 60 years in the United States. It was initially implemented in Australia through the Cape York Academy and at the beginning of 2015 adopted by 16 NT and WA remote Indigenous Schools.

 At Angurugu School the experience has been universally and positively accepted and applied from Transition to Year 12. With benefits noted around the transitional nature of their students between like DI schools, the fast tracking of regularly attending students through Reading, Language and Numeracy programs, consistent and sequential planning for all teachers to use with their students, who are closely monitored and supported to achieve Mastery of skills and knowledge taught, and finally the importance of ongoing support via school coaches and managers through NIFDI and GGSA.

At Angurugu School they have found the ease with which they can double dip between Direct Instruction and Visible Learning and the benefits of doing so are quantifiable. By implementing this two pronged approach it has assisted in developing and enhancing students capacities to learn and supports students in order for them to articulate their own learning. The community are also more able to be engaged as one does not have to be in the classroom to appreciate the development of students who attend school regularly, they are working at taking the school to the community.

  Angurugu School believe in the importance of seeing every challenge as an opportunity to reflect, revise and where necessary and with proof, modify. Angurugu School is currently working on the development of further community engagement programs pertaining to DI where the needs and expectations of the community are factored and where possible modified. This is in order to further support an improvement in attendance and the development of English via the reading and language programs in order to ensure that all students graduate from school with an understanding of the power of choice.


Concurrent Sessions

Session 1

Valda ShannonAdult English Literacy and Numeracy for the bush – the forgotten Right

Presented by: Valda Shannon and Lorraine Sushames with Wendy Kennedy and Allison Stewart

This presentation sets the stage for a panel discussion highlighting national and state best practice models in adult English Language Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) based on the deep experience of panellists and underlying practice principles.  The panel discussion will afford the opportunity to debate pros, cons, ways, means and needs for moving forward in Adult LLN.  The presentation includes key messages from some community leaders and points to why we need a clearly articulated strategy for adult continuing education and English LLN in the NT. 

The Whole of Community Engagement’s strategic project on adult English LLN is catalysing action and increasing knowledge sharing to support positive change for Indigenous people from remote areas of the NT who want to get ahead in education. This project arises from listening to people who express clear determination and aspiration for themselves, their families and their communities.  Many Indigenous students are still leaving school in the NT without adequate levels of LLN.  But what are their options once they leave school? There is a need for increased and appropriate access to English language and foundation skills training for remote NT– but where are the resources and what options do people have? 

Literacy and numeracy features strongly in debates and policies around school and early childhood education.  Adult LLN is not afforded the same attention however even though it is an essential ingredient for social betterment, lifelong learning, progression in employment and getting ahead in further education. This paper considers these points of view, provides an overview of Adult LLN policy and programs nationally and in the NT, and looks at some statistics on levels of English LLN in remote areas – where English is often not spoken at home.  Although there are some gains, and examples of successful projects in the NT, efforts intend to be stop-start and there is little improvement in levels of English literacy rates. This paper gives consideration to the enabling environment through consideration of national adult literacy policy over time, including the effects of applying mainstream program designs in the remote Indigenous context.  We also refer to international exemplars – countries which seem to be getting it right.

Panel discussion

English Language Literacy and Numeracy

Presenters: Bob Boughton, Evaluator 'Yes I can' community Literacy Campaign NSW and Jenni Anderson, Chairperson Australian Council for Adult Literacy et al

Session 2

Yarning Circle

An opportunity for Indigenous youth to get together with others to share issues arising from the two day Pre-Conference Youth workshop
Presenter: TBA

The Whole of Community Engagement team from Charles Darwin University, in partnership with Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education has organised a pre-conference workshop for remote Indigenous youth on 8-9 November 2016.  This ‘Youth workshop’ is an opportunity for emerging youth leaders from a number of remote and regional communities to network and share ideas on leadership and engagement.  The workshop celebrates local achievement and learning, and provides opportunity for individuals, groups and communities to learn from each other.

The aims of the summit include an opportunity to:

  1. Share ideas about how youth currently support, guide and involve one another in decision making about their education, career paths and employment
    1. Work together, share ideas and experiences to identify and then discuss potential solutions to collective challenges youth face (in their communities)
    2. Explore ways that youth can work with service providers to achieve a (self-directed) vision for the future
    3. Discuss leadership challenges and opportunities for young community members

This Yarning Circle on day one of the Indigenous Leadership Conference will provide an opportunity for conference participants to hear and learn from young people and gain a deeper understanding of their perspectives, achievements and challenges.

Conference day two

Conference Program

Workshop #13

Whole Of Community Engagement Team

Understanding the aspirations of remote Aboriginal communities to pursue further education: Lessons learned through the Whole of Community Engagement initiative  

Presented by: Whole of Community Engagement Team

It is well documented that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are under-represented in Australian universities. This was highlighted in the Behrendt Review (2012) with a range of social, cultural, structural and political factors used to explain why. Importantly, this under-representation disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in regional and remote settings. A need exists for tertiary institutions to address this disparity by implementing strategies that better engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to identify and address their needs on their terms.

Over the past two years, Charles Darwin University has been implementing the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme (HEPPP) funded Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) initiative. This has involved working with six remote communities across the Northern Territory to enhance opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to pursue further education. Using a collaborative research approach campus-based and remote Aboriginal community-based staff have co-developed community action plans that clearly define the strategies and activities identified and prioritised by each community. This process has resulted in the development of numerous agreements with local Aboriginal community controlled organisations to strengthen a commitment towards further education, ultimately shifting the power of control to the community level and increasing self-determination. It has also supported a heightened awareness of, and interest in, opportunities to pursue tertiary education pathways within each community.

In this presentation we will draw on progress against the community action plans to demonstrate outcomes achieved through the WCE initiative. We will also describe key lessons learned during the planning and implementation phases.

Workshop #14

Dr Nici Barnes

Indigenous Parent Engagement in an NT Education Context

Presented by: Dr. Nici Barnes

There is significant research that demonstrates the benefits of parent participation in their children’s education.  This paper explores one program developed by The Smith Family in Darwin, Australia that focuses on parent engagement tailored to Indigenous parents. Our study of this program drew on the ethnographic techniques of immersion and interviews, combined with the parent production of digital stories. This data was used to explore the principles and conditions that were in evidence within the program that allowed parents to engage in the educational (and the wider community) setting. 

We argue that parents require support and education in order for effective engagement in their children’s learning to occur and that the conditions established that allow this participation are contingent on the principles in place within school and community organisations.


Workshop #15

Stephanie BlitnerRemote School Attendance Strategy: The Angurugu Experience

Presented by: Stephanie Blitner, Angurugu School Principal

While the Remote School Attendance Strategy  has a ‘big brother’ approach, the opportunity for implementing this policy has been one that staff at Angurugu School have sought to broaden and make relevant to the lives of families; one that is less about punishment and more about holistic family and service engagement.

Children need to attend school regularly and our ‘Yellow Shirts’ not only help children to school, but importantly stay at the school and help staff and families with helping children learn to enjoy the experience of education and what it can provide.




Workshop #16

Gary Fry'NT Remote Indigenous Community Engagement: what might a strengthened design of schooling look like in remote NT communities?

Presented by: Associate Professor Gary Fry

The Northern Territory remote Indigenous education environment  exposes the weak foundations of a national Indigenous education policy environment, evidenced by NAPLAN results since 2008 that consistently reveal this demographic profile is the lowest performing of all Australian jurisdictions. Such outcomes in part point to the design of education on offer and its expressions within the multi-layered and deepened social undercurrents flowing through the NT’s Indigenous population, reflective of the tensions that capitalist economies such as Australia express when seeking to implement social justice or ‘equalizing’ policies to those relegated to the fringes of a national consciousness.  At the core of this structural conflict are binary exchanges of neocolonialism and neoliberalism, colluding in uncompromising forced assimilation and its purported trajectory toward the discourses of capitalism; though simultaneously caught within its design condition of social inequality, economic layering and public policy convolution. In this ideological tension and the ongoing dysfunction I ask the valid question of what might a functional format of schooling look like in remote communities? In doing so I consider three points of inquiry that situate ambiguously in national policy approaches: First, to what level has schooling been inclusive of Indigenous languages and cultural content ,and why does this matter? Second, How structurally accessible have school services been for Indigenous children and families? Third, how aligned has such education been with community aspirations of living and thriving on country?

Workshop #17

Terry Moore

At the intersection: the demands on Indigenous education leaders

Presented by: Terry Moore , David Scholz and Geoffrey Jupurrurla Shannon

The Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) initiative has identified an array of factors implicated in remote Indigenous students’ aspiration to, and participation and retention in, school and further education. Known issues include cultural difference, history and remoteness. Others that have emerged include issues associated with what has been called ‘bothness’, or ‘rooted cosmopolitanism’. These include working at the intersection of Aboriginal and mainstream worlds, personal growth and identity politics. The issues of intersection combine to significantly enrich and yet complicate remote lives and pathways into further education. Many of the issues have been flagged by Indigenous staff and community representatives involved in the WCE initiative, who have been successful in their own educational journey and worked and/or volunteered for many years to support education in their own communities. These individuals exemplify the kind of leadership that will be needed to address the issues that arise from intersection in educational programs.

This paper focuses on their negotiation of the synergies and tensions, and the beneficial effect their model can have in their communities. It considers how their approach may be embedded in future mentoring programs.

Workshop #18

Whole Of Community Engagement TeamIndigenous leadership, governance and remote school councils: The power of a collective voice

Presented by: Djuwalpi Marika, Jimmy Langdon, Elizabeth Katakrinja, Valda Shannon, Geoffrey Shannon, Daisy Brown and James Smith

Strengthening education governance and leadership in remote and very remote schools has been identified as a key foundation for improving Indigenous education journeys for children and youth in the Northern Territory (NT). In May 2016, a joint school council gathering was held in Yirrkala over a three day period. It was facilitated through the Whole of Community Engagement initiative within the Office of Pro Vice Chancellor – Indigenous Leadership at Charles Darwin University (CDU) in collaboration with the Yambirrpa Schools Council. The joint school council gathering involved the engagement of 17 Indigenous school council representatives from seven school councils, across six remote sites in the Northern Territory. It also involved key representatives from the Department of Education and CDU. The planning and delivery of a joint school council gathering provided a safe environment for school council representatives to share stories and acknowledge the challenges and successes of school councils across the NT. A key output from the gathering was the identification of key focus areas that need further investment and support. These were documented in a collective school council statement on remote Indigenous education.

This presentation will describe the process and outcomes of the school gathering, and outline the key focus areas identified for further action.

Workshop #19

Tristan Duggie

Engagement through the butterfly approach to teaching in remote community: symmetry in cultural worlds

Presented by: Tristan Duggie and Katrina Kotzur

Western education schools in remote communities like my community of Mungkarta try to prepare children with the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for survival in the Western world. However,  Aboriginal children cannot survive if they also do not learn about their own Aboriginal culture and languages. Their identity is what makes them who they are and their opportunities to being successful in the Western, white world is based upon the strength of identity.

My approach therefore in classrooms is to do my best to achieve this outcome, through engaging with non-Aboriginal staff and families to teach in both worlds. I call this the Butterfly effect because a butterfly is symmetrical and balanced. 

The butterfly approach is not something that is simply just a strategy. There are no other options for school education policy makers to understand. This deep connect of being Aboriginal is where our children’s capacity to achieve happens-success through Indigeneity and being Indigenous.  

Workshop #20

Stephen Bolaji

The Power of Choice and Scarcity of Opportunity: A Narrative or Reflection of Indigenous African in Diaspora

Presented by: Dr Stephen Bolaji

Lack of opportunities, economic and human slavery, repression, abuse and dehumanisation characterised the colonial bombardment and unlawful occupation of the African continent (Olukotun, 2016). This phenomenon left the majority of African people traumatised, resentful, withdrawn, and with low aspirations to make right choices and take advantage of opportunities available to them (Bolaji, 2011; 2013). The consequence of this colonial repression explains Africa economic policies whose underlining philosophy is the survival of the fittest.

In this paper, I use the meta-narrative approach to discuss the simple economic propositions - choice, scarcity and opportunity in the African context. I argue that it is the right time for a shift from the same old story of dehumanisation to heroism, great self-denial, relentless networking and rugged determination. My argument for shifting the gaze explains the true life story of this author, who through shared determination and the power of resilience survived the trajectory of poverty and ignorance to become a trailblazer (Olukotun, 2016). Thus, against the odds of narrative colonisation and intergenerational discourses of blame trading, Indigenous people in Africa and diaspora can achieve greatness and land in the hall of fame.

Workshop #21

James Smith, Gretchen Ennis, Cat Street and the Whole of Community Engagement team

Exploring the utility of social network analysis in remote Indigenous education contexts: A case study from the Whole of Community Engagement Initiative

Presented by: Whole of Community Engagement Team

Social Network Analysis (SNA) is the methodical study of social networks. It is increasingly used in a range of interdisciplinary research contexts to examine the relationships between people, groups and organisations. The potential to use SNA for collaborative research projects is increasingly recognised, yet it has seldom been applied in projects set in remote Indigenous contexts, or in education research. We have commenced exploring this potential and will discuss how SNA has been applied through the Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) initiative at Charles Darwin University. This is a multi-site participatory action research project that uses a bottom-up community engagement approach with six remote Indigenous communities across the Northern Territory (NT). The primary aim is to build a deeper understanding of the aspirations of and opportunities for Indigenous learners. This is in concert with identifying potential levers for system improvement to promote Indigenous participation and achievement in higher education. We will explain the explorative process that has taken place to collectively identify the most appropriate and useful application of SNA within our research project. This includes intensive SNA training; consideration of ethical issues and the possibilities and limitations of SNA; data collection techniques to support SNA; and the identification of suitable SNA software (i.e. Gephi). We describe the methods used to map the diverse and emergent relationships developed between the WCE project team and individual people and organisations within the remote Indigenous community contexts. Using SNA diagrams we will show how relationships were mapped at the commencement, and throughout the implementation, of the WCE initiative community engagement process. We will use different examples to illustrate its utility. We encourage other educational researchers to consider the utility of SNA, particularly within Indigenous education research contexts. 

Workshop #22

Millie and Seraine

“Bininj to Bininj”: supporting sustainable pathways into higher education through the engagement of Aboriginal researchers in Australia

Presented by: Dean Yibarbuk, Millie Olcay and Seraine Namundja

Too often ‘Balanda’ (non-Aboriginal people) conduct research on or about aboriginal issues in Australia without the involvement of ‘Bininj’ (Aboriginal people *). This omission is despite comprehensive benefits of Aboriginal participation, including more effective and sustained outcomes and solutions.

A team of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers in the Northern Territory have been engaged in participatory action research as part of the Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) initiative, funded by the Higher Education Participation and Partnership Program (HEPPP) of the Commonwealth Government.

Since October 2014, the WCE team of non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal researchers have collaborated with ARPnet (Aboriginal Research Practitioners’ Network) to explore and evaluate community perspectives in two remote Aboriginal communities in West Arnhem. Using a combination of participatory research tools (including individual and focus group discussions, workshops and computer-assisted key interviews), the researchers sought to understand the aspirations, expectations, and capacities of remote Aboriginal people to participate in higher education. By working closely with key community leaders and stakeholders, opportunities were created for community members, organisations, researchers, University staff and public policy leaders to engage in mutually beneficial and authentic learning opportunities.

‘Both ways’ dialogue among the two teams of researchers and with each of the communities was considered vital. This dialogue supported ongoing learning between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal co-researchers throughout the research journey; and allowed space for both Bininj and Balanda knowledge systems and worldviews to be privileged.

*The term ‘Aboriginal’ is used here to represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Australia, also commonly referred to as ‘Indigenous’ people.

Workshop #23

Duncan Poulson

Money, Wellbeing and ASIC's MoneySmart Teaching resources

Presented by: Duncan Poulson

ASIC assists investors and consumers to confidently participate in our financial system by providing financial education through multiple channels. This education targets a wide cross-section of Australians, including Indigenous Australians.

ASIC's MoneySmart website contains a dedicated Indigenous web page that features links to useful resources and tips on various topics including using bank accounts and borrowing money, superannuation, paying for funerals and a resource on taking care when using ATM's (which is available and 20 Indigenous languages).

This workshop will reflect on our recent efforts: what we’ve achieved, what we’ve learnt, and the challenges ahead.



Workshop # 24

David Murtagh

TeleHealth and video conferences access and use in Northern Australia

Presented by: David Murtagh, Marianne St Clair and Andrew Bryett

A significant effort has been made to increase the availability of TeleHealth services in Australia over the past several years. Staff from the Department of Health in the Northern Territory, Telstra Health, Northern Institute (CDU) and AMSANT will present a summary of the current activities and outcomes from the efforts made to develop TeleHealth in the Northern Territory. Andrew Bryett will also present a TeleHealth perspective from the Department of Health in Queensland.

The Broadband for the Bush Alliance is keen to evaluate and measure the impact of this investment.  A national survey was implemented to capture people’s access to, and experience of, TeleHealth and video conferencing across Australia.  The results of this survey will be presented with recommendations for future implementation strategies and research.


Free concert

November 10, 2016

7pm to 9pmILC Concert Poster
CDU Amphitheatre

Join this celebration of the Indigenous Leadership Conference: Engagement and the Power of Choice through a fun-filled, family friendly evening.

Be entertained by singer-songwriters Shellie Morris and Neil Murray and comedy star Kevin Kropinyeri.

The purchase of food and non-alcoholic drinks will be available on the night. Limited seating, so get there early.

Please note that if rain is expected on the night the concert will be moved indoors to the CDU Theatre.

Neil Murray

Kevin Kropinyeri

Shellie Morris

Neil Murray

Kevin Kropinyeri

Shellie Morris

Neil Murray first appeared in
the early eighties as a founding
member of the Warumpi Band,
which over three albums (Big
Name, No Blankets, Go Bush,
Too Much Humbug) and twenty
years of performing propelled
contemporary indigenous music
into mainstream Australia,
yielding such classic songs as
My Island Home, Blackfella
Whitefella, Fitzroy Crossing,
Jailanguru Pakarnu, Stompin
Ground, From the Bush and Waru.
Australia’s premier Aboriginal
comedy star, Kevin Kropinyeri is a
one-man whirlwind that will have
you holding your sides laughing,
as he shares tales of growing
up, marriage and the particular,
absurd challenges of life as an
Aboriginal Australian family
man. A high-energy performer,
Kevin is sharp, likeable, silly
and measured; mixing keen
observational standup with
joyfully ridiculous physical
2014 NT Australian of the Year
and NAIDOC Artist of the Year,
Shellie Morris is one of Australia’s
finest singer songwriters.
Her voice and heart-felt music
has seen her grace stages from
the Commonwealth Games in
Glasgow in 2014, the Sydney
Opera House, to the Vancouver
Winter Olympics and the Skirball
Centre in New York. She is a two-time
winner of Female Musician
of the Year at the NT Indigenous
Music Awards.


Registration and online payment for the 2016 Indigenous Leaders Conference: Engagement and the Power of Choice and the Indigenous Leaders Network Dinner are available through the following link.


Please note that you may only register one person at a time for the Conference, however you can register multiple bookings for the Network dinner. If you do not want to register for the Network Dinner please place '0' in the booking area.


Conference Cost - Includes morning tea, lunch, tea and coffee - $60pp.

Network Dinner Cost - Includes refreshments and canapes - $40pp.

Map of Venue

Conference Shirts

Conference ShirtConference Shirt

The online purchase of Conference Shirts has now closed however if you missed out and you are attending the conference there will be limited shirts available for cash purchase.

Cost Per Shirt - $30



Map of Venue

Pre-conference Workshop 1

Invitation to participate in a pre-conference workshop 

The third Indigenous Leadership Conference (ILC) 'Engagement and the Power of Choice' will be held at Charles Darwin University on the 10-11 November 2016.  The Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) initiative and the LLN Consultative Group invites you to attend a pre-conference workshop.

Adult English Language Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) in the NT: A priority for action

Venue: ACIKE precinct, CDU Casuarina campus, Building Blue 2A

Time: Wed, 9 Nov 2016, at 8:00am for 8:30am start until 4:30pm

Lunch: Will be provided


Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA)

Henry Harper and Wendy Brooks

Henry: Project Coordinator

Wendy: Remote Training Officer -ALPA

Australian Council on Adult Literacy (ACAL)

Jenni Anderson

President member of the Reading Writing Hotline Steering Committee and National Foundation Skills Professional Standards Framework National Project Reference Group

Australian Government Department of Education

Mel Finestone

Manager WA Skills Office (acting for NT currently

Australian Government Dept. of Employment

Ruby Lonsdale

Senior Contract Manager (Job-Active)

Australian Government: Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, NT

Chrissy Jenner

Senior Adviser

Charles Darwin University –School of VET

Christine Robertson and Kim Hawkins

Christine: CDU - Pro-Vice Chancellor VET

Kim: CDU - Head of School Community and Family services, CDU

LINC (26TEN program)Tasmania

Anita Planchon

Manager, Literacy Services

Literacy for Life Foundation

Deborah Durnan and Tannia Edwards

Deb: National Campaign Coordinator

Tannia: Literacy Campaign Coordinator and CEO of the Murrawari Local Aboriginal Land Council, NSW

LLN Consultative Group: workshop organisation

Lorraine Sushames and Wendy Kennedy and Allison Stewart

Lorraine: CDU -Contract Manager VET LLN Business Development

Wendy: CDU -Team Leader Adult Literacy and Numeracy

Allison: CDU –WCE Strategic Priority Projects Manager

NT Department of Arts and Museums

Anja Tait

Assistant Director - Libraries and Learning

Reading and Writing Hotline

Vanessa Forrest, Jenni Anderson, Anita Planchon)

Vanessa: project officer

Jenni: Steering Committee member

Anita: Steering Committee member

Whole of Community Engagement Initiative

Valda Napurrula Shannon Wandaparri (workshop co-facilitator)

WCE Tennant Creek: researcher facilitator and mentor

Yalu Marggithinyaraw Indigenous Corporation - Galiwin’ku


Rosemary Gundjarundbuy (Director – participation via video)

  • Dr Elaine Llawurrpa Maypilama (via video)
  • Margaret Miller (Yalu cross cultural training program)
  • Stephen Dhamarrandji (Skills Development Officer)
  • Yvonne Mitjarrandi (Senior Mentor)

‘Yes I Can’ community Literacy Campaigns

Associate Professor Bob Boughton

University of New England

Independent Evaluator, Western NSW and East Timor programs

Yuendumu Learning Centre

Ros Bauer with Jimmy Langdon / Maisie Napaljarri Kitson / Enid Nangala Gallager

Ros: Consultant to WYDAC on adult literacy/numeracy (Yuendumu Learning Centre)

Jimmy: Deputy Chair WYDAC and WCE researcher , facilitator and mentor

Maisie and Enid: Walpiri Education and Training Trust (WETT) Advisory Committee

Register for the workshop (Registration Closed)

See the speaker biographies here

See workshop program here

We acknowledge that the Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) initiative is funded through the Australian Government’s Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Programme.


The LLN Consultative Group also presents a PANEL DISCUSSION

Adult English LLN in the NT: Core or Periphery?

Venue: Mal Nairn Auditorium, CDU

Time: 2 - 3.30 Thursday 10th November

Some of the speakers from the Workshop will also sit on this panel discussion.  We look forward to seeing you there.

LLN Panel Q&A Invite


For additional information contact the LLN consultative group via:

T:08 8946 6595

M: 0476 838 557

Pre-conference Workshop 2

Remote Indigenous Youth Leadership Summit: Leadership and the Power of Education

A pre-conference summit on Remote Indigenous Youth Leadership will be held on 8-9th November. This creates a valuable opportunity for networking, information sharing and collaborative problem solving for youth from six diverse remote communities. The event will integrate several keynote speakers as well as introducing them to a range of stakeholders familiarising them with the CDU Casuarina campus and the main Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (Batchelor) campus.


The Whole of Community Engagement (WCE) initiative (in the Office of the Pro Vice Chancellor of Indigenous Leadership of CDU) has identified a wide range of issues impacted on the transition of Aboriginal people from school to further education and employment, as we have worked closely with Indigenous leaders and six remote NT communities over the past two and a half years. It is evident that strong youth networks are important for young people in remote areas as they face significant daily challenges (often with limited family support.) Youth networks provide peer support, opportunity to collaborate and offer a range of engagement activities. Without support networks, too many youth have turned to substance misuse and/or been caught in the corrective services system as the result of a single poor (spontaneous) choice made in difficult circumstances. Strong youth leadership is essential to help provide a positive community environment and help drive educational aspirations.  Progressive role models and positive mindset are vital to drive educational achievement and improved employment outcomes. 

Youth networks help release untapped human potential, support self-determination and increase power to make positive life choices. Youth leadership, including affirmative role models, generating hope and improving educational aspirations, have emerged as a key success factor for communities where WCE is working. Unfortunately there is little or no support for youth programs, support networks and leadership development in these communities. There is a critical need to support efforts to foster a positive growth mindset in the youth who will become future community leaders. The impact of the positive growth mindset in improving educational outcomes in the face of socio-economic disadvantage is substantial. This is substantiated in various academic publications, as well as through evaluation findings and reviews.

As a result the Whole of Community Engagement Team from Charles Darwin University, in partnership with Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE), has invited 4 young community members from each of the 6 communities to a 2-day Remote Indigenous Youth Leadership Summit. It will be an open event where youth will be free to identify and investigate a number of relevant themes which could include:

  1. Sharing the ways in which they support, guide and involve one another in decision making about their  education and employment;
  2. Working together, sharing ideas, experiences and finding solutions to collective challenges in their communities;
  3. Exploring ways that youth can work  with service providers to achieve their (self-directed) vision for the future ;
  4. Discussing leadership challenges and opportunities for young community members.

While youth leadership is the focus of the summit, it also provides an opportunity to explore broader themes including education and employment pathways, connecting with communities and language, as well as culture and identity. Additionally, there will be opportunity to celebrate local achievements and build stronger engagement networks between participants.

 Information on pre-conference summit on Remote Indigenous Youth Leadership

For additional information contact the Youth Support Group via

(08 8946 6624) or (08 8946 6648)

Conference support and organisers

Conference Convener

Gary FryAssociate Professor Gary Fry is a Dagoman Indigenous man and has spent his entire life in the Northern Territory.

Gary worked as a qualified electrician during the mid-1980’s before qualifying as a primary school teacher in 1989. Gary has taught and been -principal in four remote Aboriginal schools across the NT over a ten year period and has spent an equal amount of time at a senior leadership and executive principal level in urban mainstream schools in Darwin.

Gary has a long-term commitment to tackling Indigenous educational inequality through his many connections in the education industry and is recognised nationally for his work in Indigenous and mainstream education.

In recent years, Gary has undertaken senior executive level roles at Charles Darwin University (CDU) including Principal in Residence at the Centre for School Leadership 2012-2014 and from 2014-2016 was the Director, responsible for school leadership training across the Northern Territory education sector. Gary is presently an Associate Professor of Education, Indigenous School Leadership, within the School of Education. Gary is studying toward a PhD in Education through Deakin University. This study is a theoretic investigation into Indigenous education inequality within a stratified capitalist Australian society, examining the forces that shape systemic and localised policy inertia and the perpetual holding patterns reflected in Indigenous education outcomes.

Master of Ceremony

Kevin KropinyeriKevin Kropinyeri

Australia’s premier Aboriginal comedy star, Kevin Kropinyeri is a one-man whirlwind that will have you holding your sides laughing, as he shares tales of growing up, marriage and the particular, absurd challenges of life as an Aboriginal Australian family man.

A high-energy performer, Kevin is sharp, likeable, silly and measured; mixing keen observational standup with joyfully ridiculous physical comedy.

Kevin tours Australia constantly, appearing all over the country, including at some of its most remote communities, and is a bona fide star of the Indigenous performing arts, appearing at the Deadly Awards at the Sydney Opera House six years running. As well he is a regular feature on the mainstream corporate, club and festival circuits and a Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow regular.

He is also steadily building a substantial TV and media profile with a long list of special guest appearances.


Whole of Community Engagement Team organisers

James SmithAssociate Professor James Smith is the Program Manager of the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program – Whole of Community Engagement initiative in the Office of the Pro Vice Chancellor of Indigenous Leadership at Charles Darwin University. Associate Professor Smith has extensive experience working in executive and senior management roles in health and education sectors in government and non-government settings across the Northern Territory Australia. Much of this work has related to improving Indigenous health and education outcomes.


Allison StewartAllison Stewart combines her 15 year remote International development experience with many years working for Indigenous organisations, universities, government and non-government in the NT, WA and the ACT.  Working at local, regional and national levels and across cultures she has traversed and contributed to outcomes within – community development, mental health, primary health care, health promotion, public health, national policy, Indigenous employment, community based public works, housing, communication and media, social planning, higher education and research.  Her flexibility to move across sectors has been enabled by application of a range of generic skills combined with her ability to rapidly acquire sector-specific knowledge, work with sectoral specialists and a commitment to learning.  Allison operates from a fundamental belief in the potential for the advancement of individuals, families and communities through active partnership, local leadership contribution, high quality engagement and the development of respect and understanding across cultures.  Her aim is always to maximise all contributions and increase understanding between all internal and external partners to further strategic goals.



Ruth WallaceProfessor Ruth Wallace is the Director of the Northern Institute, the social and policy research institute at Charles Darwin University.

Her research interests relate to the links between identity, marginalised learners and the development of effective learning and workforce development pathways. This work is situated in regional and remote areas of Northern Australia, and undertaken with Aboriginal people in remote and regional areas.

Ruth’s research connects to mobile learning pedagogies, literacy and numeracy learning and approaches to workforce development in remote enterprises.





Curtis Roman

Dr  Curtis  Roman is a Larrakia man born and raised on Larrakia country. He is the first Indigenous man to receive a PhD from the Charles Darwin University and the first Larrakia man to be awarded a PhD. 

Curtis is currently Head of School at the School of Indigenous Knowledges and Public Policy at Charles Darwin University. He has taught at higher education level in Indigenous Studies, Education, Anthropology and Human Resource Management.

He is currently focussing on the supervision of PhD students.



Tracy WoodroffeTracy Woodroffe is a Northern Territory educator with over 20 years of teaching experience. During this time, she has taught in the Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary sectors; currently lecturing at CDU in the School of Indigenous Knowledges and Public Policy (SIKPP).

Through her strong beliefs about professionalism and student-teacher relationships, Tracy has experienced many successes and worked hard at improving teacher practice. Her pedagogical interests include catering for diversity, and the power of feedback.

Since completing a Master of Education, Tracy is now involved in PhD study increasing the knowledge, skills and awareness needed to further improve the educational outcomes of Indigenous students.



Pauline SchoberPauline Schober is the current Teaching Schools Coordinator managing the partnership agreement between Charles Darwin University School of Education and the Northern Territory Government Department of Education. Within this role Pauline is committed to supporting Schools, Educational Leaders and Pre-Service Teachers to ensure ongoing quality educators and education within Northern Territory.

Pauline’s contribution and support play an integral role in strengthening and aligning Initial Teacher Education course offerings with current demands and practices in schools as well as developing research connections.

Her teaching experience includes working at all levels in Education including Early Years, Primary, Secondary and Senior Secondary.

Pauline has a Bachelor of Business and Masters of Education completed at Charles Darwin University with a specific focus on Indigenous education and community engagement in education. And, she has experience knowledge and involvement in Indigenous Policy within the Northern Territory Department of Education.

Pauline has undertaken numerous project works and operated within remote and major hub communities throughout the Northern Territory in various positions. Since 2010 Pauline has been an enthusiastic and active member of the Northern Territory Board of Studies as the member representing Indigenous people and was a member of the previous Northern Territory Indigenous Education Council.


Maria PyroMy name is Maria Pyro, I’m a Garrwa/Yanyuwa teacher from Borroloola, which is situated in the Gulf of Carpentaria of the Northern Territory.

I’m a Family Educator with FaFT (Family as First Teacher. My job involves engaging with the whole family about the importance of early learning. This involves using the EYLF through play base learning and using the abecedarian approach through reading, learning games and providing activities that enhance early learning and building parent’s capacity through the early year’s programs.






School Presentations

Sanderson Middle School: Torres Strait Islander dance - Gumi Rangadh: A dance about connections, relationships and engagement.

Wagaman Primary School years 2&3: Re-enactment of the Wave Hill Walk Off.


Schools Supplying Concert Catering

Palmerston Senior CollegePalmerston Senior College: Led by Aunty Anna and Veronica Hempel

Providing their exquisite kangaroo stew and chicken curry and rice.



 Ludmilla School LogoLudmilla Primary School: Providing cool non-alcoholic drinks and frozen fruit sticks.





Karama Primary SchoolKarama Primary School: Providing steak sandwhiches and cold drinks.




Senior Event Coordinator

Sonya MackenzieSonya Mackenzie is the Director of Faze: Education and Coaching Consultancy and works predominantly in the niche market of coaching and mentoring for commercial and public sector organisations.

Sonya has contracts working in Asia-Pacific and the United Kingdom (UK), where she delivers courses and works as an executive coach. She has a 20 plus year career working in the field of education and training where her recent senior executive roles have included:

Hawker Brownlow Professional Learning Solutions, Training Associate for Cognitive Coaching; Training and Assessment facilitator with Babcock International and London Fire Brigade; Charles Darwin University, Director of Professional Standards; Northern Territory Department of Education, Senior Manager Phases of Learning and Regional Mentor Capacity Building.

Sonya has extensive experience of Learning and Development having developed, led and evaluated a broad range of programs for educators/trainers and corporate staff. Her areas of expertise include seminar facilitation, executive and peer coaching, leadership, program and project management, group/team development, plus a range of trainer initiatives and continuous professional development programs. 
Sonya holds a Bachelor of Education: Further Education and Training, from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia and a Graduate Diploma in Psychology from Charles Darwin University, Australia. She is currently completing a Masters of Education International, and holds various other professional qualifications including Training Associate: Cognitive Coaching, Executive Coach: Growth Coaching International, certified facilitator for EQ-I 2.0 and EQ 360 (Emotional Intelligence Assessment), Certificate IV Training and Assessment and Certificate IV Career Development. Sonya is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the Emotional Intelligence Teaching and Research Institute (EITRI).


Event Support

Marianne St ClairMarianne St Claire worked for the Centre for School Leadership and the School of Education for 2 years and assisted in the organisation of the 2 previous Indigenous Leadership Conferences (2014 & 2015). 

She recently took up a position at the Northern Institute working on the implementation of Telehealth, increasing digital engagement and workforce development in the health and animal care industries.

She is currently doing a PhD at the Curtin Business School on the role of collaboration in Seafood Enterprise Development in remote Indigenous Communities.




Network Dinner

10 November

5:00pm to 7:00pm

The purpose of the network dinner is to create opportunity in strengthening the many allied networks across the Northern Territory, as well as nationally, that have a focus toward Indigenous social and economic advancement.

This dinner will be led by the Chief Executive of Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education (BIITE) and will actively pursue policy progression in three areas: These include (1) What has been happening? (2) what needs to happen, and (3) how will this be achieved?

A key feature of the networking dinner will be to facilitate a widened stakeholder and industry collective voice, from which sharpened themes will be identified and used for the purpose of moving forward opportunities for remote Indigenous community advancement. This work will necessarily draw links between the theory, policy and practice as a means of evidence-based strategic change.

Photo Gallery

Please visit the 2016 Indigenous Leaders Conference Photo Gallery.

Re-live two days of conference procedings including performances by Sanderson Middle School and Wagaman Primary School, conference Network Dinner and free evening concert with Shellie Morris, Neil Murray and Kevin Kropinyeri.

Two days of learning, inspiration and fun!

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