Ngangk Yira Research Advisory Board
The Advisory Board of the Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity advises on the strategic direction of the Centre, including: achieving its vision; ongoing research strategy; sustainability; and impact.
The Advisory Board is comprised of scientific members, cultural members and senior leaders from key organisations in sectors related to the work of Ngangk Yira. Some members represent an organisation whilst others are members by virtue of their skills and expertise.
Aunty Marie Taylor
As Nyungar Elder, Marie Taylor descends from a long line of storytellers and has inherited this family gift. Aunty Marie is a woman of many talents, roles and identities. She is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and has been a junior state hockey representative, Bible College graduate, housing officer, evangelist, a course author and teacher at Murdoch University.
Auntie Marie has helped establish an Aboriginal Cultural Centre, produced programs that are taught in schools across the city and, in her role as Nyungar Elder, conducts traditional Welcomes to Country and Smoking Ceremonies. She has had a long career in both Government and non-Government agencies in a range of positions.
Officially retired, Aunty Marie is the chairperson of the Yelakitj Moort Nyungar Association which ensures culture, traditions, language and stories of the Nyungar families are maintained and taught in schools and communities. As part of the Honorary Elders Group for Murdoch University and member of the Ngangk Yira Advisory Board, Auntie Marie shares her wisdom and cultural guidance for research directions and the future of the University.
Aunty Doreen Nelson
I am involved in the Birthing on Noongar Boodjar Research Project at Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health & Social Equity.
I am also the Chair of the Elder's Committee that will oversee a new Book on Elder's and Senior Aboriginal women's traditional birthing stories. Ngangk Yira transcribed my birthing story along with 17 others and they were made into posters which were displayed at the Birthing on Noongar Boodjar Symposium in 2018. All Elders sat under the posters while participants asked questions and yarned about those stories.
I have undertaken Welcome to Country for conferences, workshops and I also sit on an Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Committee and many others to help our mob. I am on many Committees, an example is at Fiona Stanley Hospital. It is a good thing to have Elders involved because we have the past stories, can advise on Aboriginal culture.
I am committed to the Aboriginal people and give whatever I can as an Elder to improve health systems, environment, literally any area for the betterment of our people. I am an Elder and leader in my Noongar Community.
As a Noongar Community Elder and Chair of the Birthing Book Elder's Committee; I am also a member of the Ngangk Yira Advisory Board where I can contribute the voices of my Community.
Director, Aboriginal Health, Child and Adolescent Health Services
Melanie Robinson has worked in diverse roles in nursing over the past 30 years, including clinical practice, education and policy. She was appointed Director of Aboriginal Health in CAHS in 2020, the same year she was appointed Chair of the Ngangk Yira Advisory Board.
Melanie has cultural connections to the Gidja and Ngarinyin people of the Kimberley, and is passionate about supporting young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Having grown up on Gibb River Station in the Ngallagunda community, she moved to Derby for the majority of her education. She has a connection with the particular health challenges faced by rural and remote communities and a deep personal understanding of the impacts of colonisation, including having family members affected by Stolen Generations policies.
During her career, Melanie has worked at hospitals in Derby, Fitzroy Crossing and Perth, as well as aged care services in Derby and Dublin, Ireland.She completed a Masters in Nursing Research at the University of Notre Dame Australia in 2018.
Director, Aboriginal Health Strategy at East Metropolitan Health Service
Denese is a Ngikina and Jaru woman born in Derby in the Kimberley, Western Australia. With a Bachelor of Applied Science in Aboriginal Community Management and Development, Denese has developed her leadership skills through her roles and a number Aboriginal leadership programs, including the Department of Health Leadership Excellence and Development Program.
She has 20 years’ experience in Indigenous policy and practice development and has developed her roles to incorporate strategic direction and operational leadership of substantial program areas. Her first role was working in Derby at Community Health providing health services and support to Aboriginal population locally and in the remote communities of the central west Kimberley. She has also worked in Aboriginal education in Pilbara, in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s legal services sector, at state-wide policy level with Department for Communities; Denese returned to work in Aboriginal health with North Metro Health Service, Women and Newborn Health, Aboriginal Maternity Services Support Unit and the WA Country Health Service developing and implementing Aboriginal health programs and services aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal community.
Denese is currently Director, Aboriginal Health Strategy at East Metropolitan Health Service leading the strategic direction of Aboriginal Health in partnership with the Aboriginal community and the organisation.
For the last five years she has also been an Associate Investigator of the Birthing on Noongar Boodjar Project, the Chair of the Cultural Leadership and Brokerage Stream and is the current Chairperson of the Kaadaninny Aboriginal Advisory Committee of Ngangk Yira.
Wheatbelt Regional Aboriginal Health Consultant, WA Country Health Service
A proud Badimia Yamatji and Ballardong Nyoongar senior woman, Janinne has had a varied public service career for over 30 years. She has worked in the public housing field and since 2008, in the health sector, with a focus on women’s health.
Janinne has a Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion and was previously the Aboriginal Senior Health Promotion Officer at King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women and Newborns. During her time at KEMH, Janinne initiated a highly successful volunteers program, which draws on a group of Aboriginal women who visit women transferred from homeland communities and the regions to Perth for childbirth or women’s health care.
In 2019 Janinne was awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to conduct a study of Aboriginal doula programs in New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Janinne has been a Chief Investigator on the NHMRC Birthing on Noongar Boodjar project and continues to provide high level advice to a range of Ngangk Yira projects.
Registered Nurse, an Aboriginal Acute and Chronic Disease Care Co-ordinator
With ten years experience as a Registered Nurse, an Aboriginal Acute and Chronic Disease Care Co-ordinator Deborah has worked mostly in Aboriginal health in community settings. Her most recent position is a newly developed role with the WA Department of Health, Clinical Excellence Division as a Principal Aboriginal Nursing and Midwifery Advisor. Through this role, Deborah endeavours to contribute to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people living in WA. Her main aim is to support the WA health system to embed a culturally secure workforce and build the capacity of the Aboriginal nursing and midwifery workforce to meet the clinical and cultural needs of Aboriginal people. Her ability to work in partnership enables her to provide cultural oversight and identify gaps in Aboriginal health to provide an improved Aboriginal workforce and bring corporate engagement to the forefront of Aboriginal Nursing and Midwifery.
Professor John RG Challis
BSc PhD DSc CBiol FRSB FRCOG FCAHS FRSC
John Challis trained at the Universities of Cambridge, Harvard and Oxford, was appointed as MRC Scholar at McGill, and later inaugural Director of the Lawson Research Institute and Founding Director of the MRC Group in Fetal and Neonatal Health and Development at UWO. He became Chair of the Department of Physiology and later Vice President Research and Associate Provost of the University of Toronto and was inaugural Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute for Human Development, Child and Youth Health.
Subsequently Professor Challis served as President and CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research in Vancouver BC, and as pro-Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences at the University of Western Australia. His research has focussed on the mechanisms of term and preterm birth, endocrine development in fetal life, regulation of placental function and impact of the in-utero environment on post-natal health and disease. He has published more than 550 peer review papers and articles, has an H-index of 75 and has trained more than 100 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. He has been elected to Fellowships in several learned Societies and is a Life Member of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). He is recipient of the McLaughlin medal of RSC , the Malcolm Brown Award of CFBS, the Sarrazin and McIntosh Awards of the Canadian Physiological Society, the Transatlantic Medal of the Society for Endocrinology (UK), the Sir William Liley Award of the Perinatal Research Society (USA) and the Distinguished Investigator and Lifetime Achievements Awards of the Society for Gynaecologic Investigation (USA) amongst others.
Professor Fiona Stanley AC
MSc, MBBS MD, FFPHM, FAFPHM, FRACP, FRANZCOG, Hon DSc, Hon DUniv, Hon FRACGP, Hon MD, Hon FRCPCH, Hon LLB (honoris causa)
Co-Patron, Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity
Trained in maternal and child health, epidemiology and public health, Fiona has spent her eminent career researching the causes of major childhood illnesses, including in Aboriginal populations.
Her major contribution has been to establish the Telethon Kids Institute and the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth.
She was Australian of the Year in 2003. In 2006 she was made a UNICEF Australia Ambassador.
Adjunct Associate Professor
CEO of WA Primary Health Alliance
Learne Durrington is at heart a social worker who happens to be the CEO of WA Primary Health Alliance. She is known for saying ’if you keep doing the same thing you will get the same results’. This statement reflects how Learne leverages her role at WA Primary Health Alliance to improve outcomes for people and the community. She is guided by the principles of collective impact and a commitment to social justice.
Learne has had a career in both government and not-for-profit sectors across health, mental health, child protection and social care. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor with a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management and has a range of industry nominal.
Executive Director of Nursing and Executive Lead for Child and Adolescent Services Community Health
Terri Barrett is currently in the role of Executive Director of Nursing and Executive Lead for Child and Adolescent Services Community Health, joining the Service in 2018. She has been a nurse and midwife for more than 30 years working in both the public and private sector across metropolitan and rural Western Australia.
Having completed hospital based training nursing and midwifery training Terri worked as a clinician and education facilitator before moving into management roles. Terri is an experienced executive, having undertaken a number of leadership roles in secondary and tertiary services, primarily in the areas of nursing and midwifery and safety and quality, over the past 15 years.
These senior positions, including acting in the role of Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer for WA Health, have given her an in depth understanding of the professional issues and challenges facing nurses and midwives in all practice settings.
Terri is the immediate past President of the Australian College of Midwives and was proud to be awarded a Fellow of the Australian College of Midwives in 2021. She has a commitment to improving outcomes for all families, especially those who are more likely to experience challenges in accessing services.
Amy House leads fundraising and development for the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Amy has a highly credible reputation for delivering major impacts across the conservation, health, education and legal sectors in Australia. She has enabled the investment of some $500million into these sectors by creating mutual investment partnerships with public & private sectors and building major philanthropic programs. Amy joined the ‘for purpose’ sector in 2008, following a 15-year background in law and commercial development. Amy is a Board Member of the Ngangk Yira Institute for Change, Murdoch University, and prior to joining AWC she was the Director of Advancement, Murdoch University. She has chaired several philanthropic Foundations in Australia and advised multiple high-profile organisations and individuals on revenue maximisation for purpose. Amy is a graduate of the Oxford University Said Business School, is an internationally accredited fundraising executive, and has post-graduate qualifications in executive leadership, project management and law.
Tracy has been conducting collaborative research in the field of maternal and infant health for over 30 years. A passionate advocate for the routine provision of woman centred care in all maternity health systems, Tracy has an extensive network of colleagues across the health and research sectors, nationally and internationally.
As a person of mixed European descent, Tracy is privileged to have been born and raised on Whadjuk Boodjar. Her family ties in Western Australia are extensive, and while a descendent of colonial settlers, she has a deep respect for the Aboriginal history and custodianship of this ancient country.
As an Ally Principal Research Fellow leading the Maternal and Infant Health Research Pillar, Tracy works closely with Aboriginal Elders, colleagues and community members and with non-Indigenous colleagues to develop the evidence required to change policies and implement cultural safety as routine in all health settings and models of care with the goal of equity of outcomes for all Aboriginal women and their families. She is an ex officio member of the Ngangk Yira Board.
Ngangk means both 'mother' and 'sun'. Alongside the Noongar word Yira, the meaning expands to: the rising sun (ngangk yira). Together, they have added spiritual meaning for the sun's giving of life to all things in its passage across the sky.