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Abbott Establishes Indigenous Advisory Council

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced the composition of his Indigenous Advisory Council.

The Council will be chaired by Warren Mundine, the former ALP president who has now left the party.

The Council’s membership includes indigenous representatives, the heads of Westpac, Rio Tinto and Carey Mining, and the former Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department, Peter Shergold.

Statement issued by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

I am pleased to announce the membership of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

I want a new engagement with Aboriginal people to be one of the hallmarks of my Government and the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council is an important part of that.

The Council will be chaired by Mr Warren Mundine. Joining him will be a mix of leaders with a broad range of skills and experience, including in business and the public sector.

The Council’s membership is:

  1. Mr Warren Mundine (Chair)
  2. Mr Richard Ah Mat
  3. Ms Leah Armstrong
  4. Dr Ngiare Brown
  5. Ms Josephine Cashman
  6. Ms Gail Kelly
  7. Mr Djambawa Marawili AM
  8. Mr Bruce Martin
  9. Mr David Peever
  10. Mr Andrew Penfold
  11. Professor Peter Shergold AC
  12. Mr Daniel Tucker

A short list of biographies is below.

In choosing the members, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister the Hon Alan Tudge MP, Mr Mundine and I considered both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians from all parts of Australia.

The Council brings a diversity of views and experience to the task of ensuring our programmes achieve real, positive change in the lives of Aboriginal people – changes that can increase participation, preserve Aboriginal culture and build reconciliation.

To do this we must ensure that children go to school, adults go to work and that the ordinary law of the land operates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Council will meet three times a year with the Prime Minister and senior ministers and will inform the policy implementation of the Government.

I look forward to working with the Indigenous Advisory Council to deliver practical change for the better.


Mr Warren Mundine is a member of the Bundjalung and Gumbaynggirr people on the North Coast of New South Wales. He is the Executive Chairman of the Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce and has over 26 years’ experience working in the public, private and community sectors.

Mr Richard Ah Mat is an indigenous man from the Torres Strait and Cape York and is currently involved in the Cape York Welfare Reform agenda. Mr Ah Mat is currently the Chair of the Cape York Land Council. Prior to this he worked for Comalco Mining in Weipa for 27 years.

Ms Leah Armstrong is a Torres Strait Islander and is the CEO of Reconciliation Australia. Previously, Ms Armstrong established a not-for-profit company called Yarnteen. Ms Armstrong’s successful 18 year tenure as the Executive Director was acknowledged in 2012 when she was recognised in the 2012 Australian Financial Review/Westpac 100 Influential Women Awards.

Dr Ngiare Brown is an Aboriginal woman from the south coast of New South Wales and one of the first group of Aboriginal medical graduates in Australia. Dr Brown has previously been Indigenous Health Advisor to the Federal Australian Medical Association and was Foundation CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.

Ms Josephine Cashman is a Koori woman, a descendant of the Worimi people of New South Wales. Ms Cashman is the Managing Director and founder of Riverview Global Partners and has worked in private, government and not-for-profit sectors.

Ms Gail Kelly is the Managing Director and CEO of Westpac. Ms Kelly was the co-founder of Jawun Indigenous Corporate Partnerships and is a non-executive director of the Business Council of Australia.

Mr Djambawa Marawili AM is an indigenous artist and leader of the Yolngu Madarrpa people and the Baniyala/Yilpara homeland. In 1996 he won the prestigious National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Best Bark Painting Prize. Mr Marawili is also the Chairman of the Association of Northern Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists.

Mr Bruce Martin is a Wik man from Aurukun and is the founder and current CEO of Aak Puul Ngantam, a Cape York organisation building sustainable development and representing families of Watson River south to the Kendall River.

Mr David Peever is the Managing Director of Rio Tinto Australia. He is also the Chairman of the Business Council of Australia’s Economic Policy and Competitiveness Committee. Mr Peever is also a member of the Male Champions of Change Advisory Group and a non-executive Director of Cricket Australia.

Mr Andrew Penfold is the current CEO of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. Prior to this, Mr Penfold had a successful career in international law and finance. Mr Penfold was awarded an Order of Merit by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Professor Peter Shergold AC is the Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney. Professor Shergold is also a current board member of the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence and a former Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Prior to this, he was the CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

Mr Daniel Tucker is an indigenous man from Kalgoorlie and the founder and Managing Director of Carey Mining, the largest 100 per cent indigenous, privately-owned and managed contracting company in Australia. Mr Tucker was the 2012 Western region winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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