Murrawah Johnson is a Wirdi woman hailing from the broader Birragubba peoples of Central and North Queensland. She comes from Wangan and Jagalingou country. Murrawah is a spokesperson, community organiser and campaigner for the Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council who are fighting to stop the Adani Carmichael coal mine proposed on their traditional country.
The Family Council’s campaign has captured the attention of the United Nations Special Rapporteur, First Nations Indigenous communities all over the world, environmental justice groups and the likes of author, activist and film maker, Naomi Klein. In 2015, Murrawah was Naomi Klein’s choice for the Grist 50 list of the top 50 movers and shakers to look out for.
Murrawah is a volunteer for Seed – Australia’s first Indigenous Youth Climate Network. Seed is building a movement of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders working to protect their land, culture and communities from the causes and impacts of climate change. A branch of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Seed runs facilitates training and educational campaigns and activities, building the capacity of young people to be a part of creating positive change.
Murrawah’s passions are advocating for Indigenous rights to self determination, the intersectionality of feminism – relating to the struggles of marginalised peoples, and challenging colonial gender roles and responsibilities within modern Aboriginal society and governance.
Dr Kirsty Sword Gusmão
Dr Kirsty Sword Gusmão was educated at the University of Melbourne and Monash University and she holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Diploma of Education. It was at Melbourne University that she first met students from Timor-Leste and began translating reports from the clandestine movement, making public the tales of appalling human rights abuses they told. It was during this time that she became an advocate for an independent Timor-Leste, which she remains to this day.
In 2001 Dr Sword Gusmão founded the ALOLA Foundation, a not for profit organisation which addresses the needs of Timor-Leste women survivors of rape and other forms of gender-based violence. The Foundation’s motto is “Strong Women, Strong Nation” and it has a strong record of enabling girls to complete their secondary schooling as well as contributing to a dramatic reduction in rates of infant mortality through promotion of exclusive breastfeeding, family planning and immunisation.
Dr Sword Gusmão continues to Chair the Alola Foundation which has been lauded for its work in the areas of education, advocacy, economic empowerment and maternal and child health.
In 2007 President José Ramos-Horta, her husband’s successor as President, appointed Dr Sword Gusmão as Goodwill Ambassador for Education of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
In 2015 Dr Sword Gusmão was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her distinguished service to Australia-East Timor relations through the development of mutual co-operation and understanding, particularly in the education sector, and as an advocate for improved health and living conditions for the Timorese people.
Dr Sword Gusmão was also awarded the Order of Timor – Leste in May 2016 for her significant contribution to Timor Leste’s independence struggle and the well-being of its people.
Hannah Azieb Pool
As Senior Programmer, Contemporary Culture at the Southbank Centre, Hannah Azieb Pool is the lead programmer for the Africa Utopia festival and one of the curators of the Women of the World (WOW) festival.
Hannah’s second book, Fashion Cities Africa, (Intellect Books 2016) celebrates the fashion landscapes of four key cities – Lagos, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Casablanca and is inspired by the exhibition of the same name, which she co-curated at the Brighton Museum (April 2016-Jan 2017).
A Guardian journalist for over a decade, Hannah was Guardian Weekend Magazine’s first Beauty Editor, and wrote the New Black – the first beauty column for women of colour in a national newspaper. Former Associate Editor of Arise magazine, Hannah’s work also appears in The Times, Vogue, Grazia and many others. A regular contributor to BBC Radio, Africa Writes and Africa Gathering, Hannah’s first book, My Fathers’ Daughter (Penguin 2006) was described by the Washington Post as “a significant and moving book.”
Alex Kelly is an artist, filmmaker and activist committed to social justice. She worked for ten years with leading Australian social change arts company Big hART as Creative Producer of Ngapartji Ngapartji and was National Producer from 2012-2014. Alex has worked on a range of roles on documentary films including; producing Nothing Rhymes with Ngapartji production managing Coniston: Telling it True and directing Queen of the Desert.
In 2013 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and explored at models for social change documentary impact and engagement in UK, Canada and USA. In 2009 Alex was awarded the Australia Council for the Arts Kirk Robson Award, in 2011 the Screen Territory Bob Plasto Award and was selected as a Screen Producer’s Australia ‘Ones to Watch’ winning the Kickstart pitch in 2015.
Alex worked for the past two and a half years was the global Impact & Distribution Producer on Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything project. Alex most recently directed the inaugural Something Somewhere Film Festival in Alice Springs in May 2016 of which she is a co-founder.
Filotea Fahey was born in 1957 in the providence of Leyte (Philippines).
Fe grew up on her parents small farm were the main produce was rice, corn and coconuts. From the age of 6 Fe was helping her parents on the farm, and with her mother after school and on weekends selling sweets at basketball matches to help bring extra money for her family. This experience built a very strong work ethic.
Fe arrived in Australia in 1981 and not long after settled in Katherine. Up until 1991 Fe had dabbled in various jobs before starting 3 businesses. In 1991, Fe had opened her own business what is now Fe’s Variety. This year will mark its 25th anniversary. Fe has strong ties with community in Katherine, and over the years has actively given back to the community through fundraising and donations to local events and sporting teams.
Courtney Collins is an Australian writer and current recipient of a 2-year fellowship from the Sidney Myer Fund, awarded for talent and courage in a creative field. Her debut novel The Burial was published in 11 countries with shortlistings for numerous prizes in Australia and overseas, including the Stella Award and the NSW Premier’s Award. In the US it was named an “Indie Pick”. The novel is being developed as a feature film by Pure Pictures/Renegade with the support of Screen Australia. Courtney’s second novel, The Walkman Mix, about a peeping Tom ‘looking for love in all the wrong places’, will be released in Australia and overseas in 2017. She is also developing two projects for television, both with female leads.
Courtney lives in Ngukurr, NT, with her partner.
Lieutenant Colonel Dianne Elson
Lieutenant Colonel Dianne Elson is the most senior female in the 1st Brigade of the Australian Army, based in Darwin and Adelaide. Only 6.2 % of the 3139 personnel strong Brigade is female. Di is an active member of a number of Associations and as the Senior Health Officer, Headquarters 1st Brigade works closely with 1st Brigade and their families to enhance soldier health and well being.
Di has held a number of health planning, health administration and personnel management positions through out her time as an Army Officer. She has lived in Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Darwin throughout the course of her career. Di, her husband Richard, also an Army Officer, and their four children (three boys and then a girl) now aged between 10-18 years old have lived in Darwin since 2001. Di is on the Younger Readers Judging Panels for the 2017 Children’s Book Council of Australia ‘Book of the Year Awards’.
Di was born in Narrogin, Western Australia and grew up on a farm. She went boarding school in Perth and following her completion of a BSc at the University of Western Australia she attended the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1987 and was commissioned into the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps. Di subsequently completed her Masters in Public Administration in 1997 and attended the Royal Australian Navy Staff College in 2000.
Dr Gael Jennings
Dr Gael Jennings is an award winning national TV and radio broadcaster with 25 years’ experience as presenter, reporter and TV executive.
She was the ABC’s first national science and medical reporter for TV News, and for the 7.30 Report, presenter of Victoria’s 7.30 Report, reporter of ABC TV’s Quantum and Catalyst, host of ABC radio 774’s mid-morning and afternoon programs, presenter of the weekly studio-based television current affairs program “Insight” on SBS, and a development producer with ABC TV in the commissioning process for factual content.
She is an award-winning author of 2 non-fiction books and is a regular commentator on ABC TV News Breakfast and 774 ABC radio.
Gael is a Senior Lecturer in the Master of Journalism programme at the University of Melbourne 2013. She is currently researching the role of the media in perpetuating community attitudes that cause Violence Against Women. This work is now the subject of an ARC Linkage Grant 2013-2015.
Gillian Russell met her business partner Phoebe Quilty at their children’s preschool. They began discussing the need for a socially inclusive space in Katherine and thought a café was a great way to connect the community. So, together they started the immensely popular The Finch Cafe.
Previously, Phoebe was a registered nurse and Gillian was a teacher, so this was their first time as café owners. They set about creating a café that truly connects with the local region. They purchase as much of their produce from local businesses as they can, including buying direct from Katherine farms. They also trade with customers – their garden produce for coffee or lunch – and sell locally made items including jewellery, jam, chutney and tea.
The Finch Café also works with the Katherine High School Stars program to encourage youngsters to perform work experience at the cafe to learn hospitality skills.
Toni Tapp Coutts
Toni Tapp Coutts is the author of the bestselling memoir ‘A Sunburnt Childhood’ published by Hachette Australia in 2016, depicting the story of her life as the eldest of ten children growing up on Killarney Station 270kms south east of Katherine. Toni is the Deputy Mayor of the Katherine Town Council and has been a member of Katherine Region of Writers (KROW) for over 20 years as well as being a board member of the Northern Territory Writers Centre. Toni has been published in a wide range of anthologies and magazines and is currently writing the sequel to her bestselling memoir.
Amy Hetherington is a 27 year old comedian, filmmaker, marketing consultant and workshop facilitator from Darwin. She’s heavily involved in the Northern Territory music industry and is passionate about promoting and supports artists and arts workers.
Danielle Doyle (Dan) grew up in Mudgee NSW. After completing year 12 she moved to Sydney and attended June Dally Watkins Business Finishing School for one year. Dan soon realised city life wasn’t for her and decided to try something different heading west to Bourke as a Governess. The next year she found herself in the Northern Territory as a Governess on a remote cattle station on the Barkly Tableland and as they say “the rest is history”. She met the boy next door and never did return to NSW. That was 2001 – now all these years later she is married with three boys. Dan and her husband, Marty, manage Mittiebah Station, a 1.7 million acre property, for The North Australian Pastoral Company on the Barkly Tableland in the NT. Dan also writes a blog – Miss Chardy, Laughter in the Outback. A personal blog about life on a remote cattle station.
Jane Sale and her husband Haydn part own and operate Yougawalla Pastoral Company in the East Kimberley. Yougawalla Station is where they live with their two children. The property was a bare block with no buildings or services when they moved there in 2008 with 1000 head of cattle.
Yougawalla Pastoral Company over eight years has grown to include three pastoral leases and four Indigenous owned subleases. Jane and Haydn are responsible today for up to 30 staff living on the stations during the mustering season and 45,000 head of cattle.
In June 2013, along with Editor Stephanie Coombes, Jane launched the Central Station blog that has grown to have 40,000 followers and tells the stories from people involved in the Live Export Industry right across the North of Australia in their own words.
Central Station came about from the inaugural Influential Women’s Forum held in Broome in 2012 by its founder Catherine Marriott. Frustrated with the urban views of the people involved in her industry Jane wanted to do something that showed the care for animals and land that she and the majority of people in her industry have. The forum taught her to connect with the urban population because of common values that we, in Australia have, namely love of family, animal welfare and the great outdoors which is what people in the Cattle Industry’s lifestyle is all about.
Lesley Williams is a respected Murri (Aboriginal) Elder. She is best known for instigating the domestic and international Justice for Aboriginal Workers campaign. In 2002 this campaign resulted in the Queensland State Government delivering an historic reparation package of $55.4 million to all Indigenous workers who had their wages and savings controlled by past governments. In 2003 she was awarded the Centenary Medal for her distinguished services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Lesley has co-produced and consulted on a number of documentary films including The Ration Shed and For Their Own Good, and co-wrote On The Banks of the Barambah: A History of Cherbourg. She is a proud and devoted ‘Nana’ to six grandchildren.
Tammy Anderson, a proud Palawa woman from Tasmania, is an award winning actor and playwright. She is the winning recipient of The Uncle Jack Charles Award and The Uncle Bob Maza Award. Her theatre credits in performance, writing, and directing include: Walking Into The Bigness ( Malthouse Theatre), The Call(Malthouse Theatre), The Sapphires (Melbourne Theatre Company), Stolen (Malthouse Theatre, National and International touring), Itchy Clacker (Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Dreaming Festival), Natives Getting Funny (Ilbijerri Theatre Company, Melbourne International Comedy Festival). Her film credits include Boxing Day (Kriv Stenders Director) The Sapphires (Wayne Blair Director).
Tammy uses her work to help change lives. Her one woman show I Don’t Wanna Play House (Malthouse Theatre, Sydney Opera House, National & International tours) has been on the road for 18 years. She is the first Australian Artist to present her work to 200 Magistrates to create change within the courts system. Tammy has recently been appointed to the Victim Survivor Advisory panel chaired by Rosie Batty to work with the Victorian Government to address violence against women.
Tammy is an Ambassador for Cancer Council Victoria, focused on Aboriginal Women’s Health. Her first children’s book SAM (Oxford University and Laguna Bay Publishing), is on the national curriculum in 9000 schools around the country.
Tammy recently graduated Melbourne University with a Masters in Writing for Performance.