Initiatives of Change Australia Speakers and Facilitators
Uncle Shane is a Yorta Yorta, Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung man and a highly experienced and inspirational community leader. Born and bred in Shepparton, Victoria, he has a strong track record in the education and training, justice, and cultural heritage sectors. He is Co-Chair of Reconciliation Victoria, and also leads the Aboriginal Studies and Indigenous Strategies Committee at La Trobe University. He recently worked at the City of Melbourne for more than three years in a newly created position to develop its ‘Aboriginal Melbourne’ team. He is a passionate advocate of reconciliation who enjoys sharing cultural knowledge to make a difference.
Margaret is Executive Officer of Initiatives of Change Australia, and has been a long-term member and contributor to the organisation She is an experienced teacher, educator and author, who founded ‘The Gandhi Experiment’ for peace education, and created the methodologies of 'Positive Reality' and 'Collaborative Debating.' She is the author of the books, The Gandhi Experiment—Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens and Collaborative Debating. Her work in global citizenship and ethical leadership has taken her across Australia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, China and Fiji to work with diverse groups of people—multicultural, multi-faith and intergenerational.
Ron Lawler was employed as Coordinator of the Ramingining Homelands Resource Centre (Arnhem Land) for four years. He then went on to serve for 22 years in public sector management in southwestern New South Wales, working principally with First Nations communities and community service providers. Previously, he engaged in trustbuilding work with Initiatives of Change in Australia, Europe, North American and the Asia-Pacific region. He serves on the board of Tirkandi Inaburra, a First Peoples-managed program that he helped establish to strengthen the cultural identity, self-esteem and resilience of Aboriginal boys aged 12 to 15 years. His passion for a just and inclusive Australia has been fired by his personal journey of healing.
Sarah is an architect, educator and mother who is committed to social and ecological sustainability. She is a member of the Victorian Design Review panel of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. In 2015, she founded Design Think Lab for intercultural and intergenerational inclusion, with the intention to collaborate with First Nations leaders. With Wurundjeri traditional owners, Sarah co-designed the Monash Health Aboriginal Healing Garden, an initiative to support ‘Closing the Gap’ between First Peoples and other Australians. The project won a Federal Government community service award. She is currently studying a Masters of Therapeutic Arts.
Mike’s 50-year involvement in trustbuilding and social change initiatives has been further motivated by the discovery of his ancestors’ part in an 1852 massacre in the Flinders Ranges. With the Blackwood Reconciliation Group in South Australia, he co-designed and established a memorial for the Stolen Generations in partnership with former residents of the Colebrook Aboriginal Children’s Home. He was Founding Co-Chair of the Sorry Day Committee in South Australia, and was voted NAIDOC Non-Indigenous Person of the Year in 2000. During 25 years of overseas work, he has been active in trustbuilding initiatives in the Cambodia, India, South Sudan and the US.
First Peoples Guest Facilitators and Speakers
Alana is a Meriam woman who grew up on Bundjalung country on New South Wales’ north coast. She moved to Wurundjeri country in Melbourne, Victoria, more than 15 years ago with her partner and two sons. Alana worked in government agencies until 2020, when she left the security of full-time employment to invest fully in cultural regeneration, ‘system re-setting’ and sharing Wayapa Wuurk (‘Connect to the Earth’ in the language of the Maara and GunaiKurnai peoples). Her work in Wayapa introduces the concept of ‘Earth’ to the ‘Mind Body Spirit’ framework of wellbeing.
Uncle Glen is a Wiradjuri artist, author and minister in the Anglican church. He has worked with young people and their families for over 30 years in various fields. He is greatly interested in the work of Thomas Merton, Indigenous issues, and spirituality. Glen’s artwork has been publicly exhibited, expressing both a lament and celebration of Country, his concern for the ongoing impacts of colonization, and the resilience and resistance of Australia’s First Peoples. His art practice explores the interaction between dominant white culture and the oldest living culture on the planet, with the purpose of engaging, challenging and initiating action for reconciliation.
A Barkindji man based in Melbourne, Kent has more than 20 years’ experience as a practicing artist, musician and curator. He has a strong interest in the role of the arts in education and healing. In 2011, he joined Victorian arts company The Torch to pilot a statewide program for Indigenous Arts in Prisons and Community, an innovative program that has gained wide support for its work in providing vocational support in the arts and culture for First Peoples in the prison system and beyond. Kent is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, an alumnus of the Wesfarmers Indigenous Arts Leadership Program, and CEO of The Torch. He curates the annual ‘Confined’ exhibition at the Yalukit Wilum Ngargee Festival.
Initiatives of Change Specialist Consultants
An actor and adventurer, David toured with The Northern Territory Travelling Theatrical Troupe in a cultural exchange program in First Nations communities in the 1970s. After a theatrical career taking him around the world, and then raising a family back in Australia, David has joined Initiatives of Change Australia to try and make a difference in the world. He sees our great need as a nation is to right the wrongs that colonialism perpetrated on our First Nations. He has been inspired by the Uluru Statement of the Heart to take up their offer “to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”
Anne has worked in private practice in Melbourne, Australia, as a counsellor and psychotherapist for 15 years. She also worked for more than 30 years as a teacher, trainer and educator in schools, universities, TAFE and private colleges, in programs designed for prisoners, job seekers, factory workers, and people with intellectual disabilities. Anne was previously a Student Advisor at RMIT University’s Ngarara Willem Centre, a dedicated support service for Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander students. She regularly conducts training programs for health practitioners and community workers, on dealing with the imprint of trauma and abuse through artistic expression and creativity. Her interests include developing leadership skills and deepening our capacity for empathy and effective communication.
Judy is a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Melbourne. She previously worked as a teacher and supervisor at Persephone College. She draws on Psychophonetics, meditation, breathwork, inner child work and ongoing study as the basis for her own development and in order to support others in recovery from sexual abuse, chronic fatigue syndrome, psychosomatic illness, grief and loss. Judy previously volunteered at the Mutitjulu Indigenous Community’s health clinic in Central Australia, and has attended women’s ceremonies with Indigenous Elders in Ernabella, South Australia. She has a special interest in how the experience of inner peace influences peace among individuals, groups and communities, and this interest has led to her involvement with interfaith and social justice organisations.
Shoshana is passionate about conversations and dialogues which build connection and understanding rather than separation and mistrust. She began her journey on this path as one of the Co-founders of the Conflict Resolution Network, which was established in Australia in 1986 to develop and spread skills for handling conflict. She is co-author of the best-selling book Everyone Can Win – Resolving Conflict Constructively. She is a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, where she runs workshops on practical skills for conflict conversations and collaborative approaches to advocacy. Shoshana has been actively involved in Initiatives of Change since 2010 and is currently an International Coordinator for Creators of Peace.