Patron – Uncle “Moogy” Major Sumner AM

Uncle Major “Moogy” Sumner AM is the proud Patron of Wayapa® Wuurrk Aboriginal Wellness Foundation Ltd.

He is a Senior Elder of the Ngarrindjerri people, one of the most highly respected Elders in Australia and has been Jamie’s Cultural Elder for the past 16 years. Uncle Moogy is a Director of Talkingjeri Aboriginal Corporation, sits on the International Indigenous Repatriation Committee and is the driving force behind Ringbalin, an annual ceremony since 2010 that dances the spirit back into the Murray River. Uncle Moogy has been working with local, national and international communities for over 30 years and was appointed a Merit of the Order of Australia in 2014 for his significant service to Indigenous communities in South Australia.

Chairperson & Executive Director – Jamie Marloo Thomas

Jamie is a Senior Cultural Knowledge Holder for his Gunnai and Peek Whuurrung/Maara Communities.

For over 25 years, Jamie has been passionate about revitalising cultural knowledge, practices and ceremony which is why he created this Foundation. Jamie is determined to ensure that Aboriginal kids have the opportunity to grow up sharing in traditional culture to create intergnerational wellbeing. He has also worked professionally within Community in the areas of Mentoring, Counselling, Health Education, Cultural Tourism & Repatriation of Ancestral Remains. Complementary to his cultural knowledge, Jamie also holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy from Latrobe University.

Treasurer – John Clarke

John is Giraewurrung Man with his grandfather being the highly respected Gunditjmara Elder, Uncle Henry “Banjo” Clarke.

John has over 15 years of highly respected experience working with natural and cultural values in a landscape context. He has been the driving force behind a number of youth projects including Meerteeyt Marrang Aboriginal Youth Program that utilises National Parks as a vehicle to deliver a range of positive and engaging messages to youth at risk of falling into the justice system, dropping out of school or generally challenged in normal social scenarios.

Director – Sara Jones

Sara is passionate about Indigenous Culture.  She is the Co-Founder and Director of Wayapa® Wuurrk Pty Ltd.

Sara has worked and lived within the Indigenous community throughout Australia since 2003 including senior management roles within the Koorie Heritage Trust, Black Olive Productions and The Replay Group, a company that delivers Indigenous Economic Projects for the Commonwealth Government.  Complementary to her work within Community, Sara also holds a Diploma of Forensic Healing and is studying meditation and metaphysics.

Secretary – Vicki Couzens

Vicki is a Keerray Wurrong Gunditjmara woman from the Western Districts of Victoria.

She has worked in Aboriginal community for over 35 years in various roles as well as being self employed for the past 12 years, as an artist, consultant and community cultural development facilitator/teacher. Vicki has a passionate commitment to the reclamation, regeneration and revitalisation of cultural knowledge and practices, especially language. She places emphasis on and prioritises community collaboration and involvement in her practice.

Vicki stands in front of the painting Minyma Kutjara (2012) by Amanyi (Dora) Haggie. Courtesy The Lowitja Institute.

Deputy Chair – Tania Rossi (Burns Barr)

Tania is a proud Yorta Yorta Wiradjiri woman.

“Never forget who you are” are the words that ring in my ears from my Great Grandmother Margaret Tucker and I am so proud to be a Foundation Director and Deputy Chairperson. My vision is for every Aboriginal child to grow up knowing traditional culture. To understand the structures that kept us a healthy vibrant people for so long. Aboriginal LORE is what we should all live by. To understand connection to Country. Our Foundation kids don’t just learn traditional dancing but they learn why it is important, how it is their cultural responsibility and what the cultural protocols are as soon as the ochre is being applied. The kids love performing their dances, but ask them if they would rather dance at the Dreamtime at the G game in front of 100,000 people (which they did by the way) or in a community corroboree honouring Mother Earth and the latter would win hands down every time. That is the way of our Old People and that’s how I believe it should be for our kids and our families. 

Tania is also the Program Manager for the Foundation and Cultural Mentor for the Parrayt Thanampool Program. 

Advisory Board Members

Wayapa® Wuurrk Aboriginal Wellness Foundation Ltd is fortunate to have a number of very passionate, committed Advisory Board Members who provide extensive knowledge, experience and expertise.

Ben Schokman

Ben Schokman is currently the Director of Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre. Ben has worked with the HRLC since 2006 and since 2012 has managed the HRLC’s Indigenous Rights Unit, which works closely with Indigenous leaders, organisations and communities to address significant and systemic human rights issues. Ben also leads much of the HRLC’s engagement with the UN human rights system and their work on children’s rights, disability rights, and prisoner and detainee rights. Ben recently completed a 9-month Myer Innovation Fellowship to research and design new and innovative initiatives to tackle the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia.

Dr Chris Kavelin

Chris is an Honorary Research Fellow at Australia Catholic University. He is also an International Fellow with SARCHI (South African Research Chairs Initiative), Chair in Development Education, National Chair funded by the South African Department of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation.  He has taught ‘Spirituality and Social Transformation’ at Macquarie University for 10 years as well as teaching intellectual property law for five years. His PhD is in law on the Protection of Indigenous Medical Knowledge: Transforming Law to Engage Indigenous Spiritual Concerns.

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