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We have a number of committees and boards that support and provide advice across our organisation. 

Committees that provide advice to the Council:

  • Audit and Risk Committee
  • Collections Advisory Committee
  • Foundation Board
  • Membership Standing Committee

Committees that provide advice to the Chief Executive Officer:

  • Consultative Committee
  • Health and Safety Committee
  • Indigenous Caucus
  • Languages Advisory Committee
  • Native Title Research Advisory Committee
  • Publishing Advisory Committee
  • Research Advisory Committee
  • Research Ethics Committee
  • Audit and Risk Committee

    The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) is governed by the AIATSIS Council. The Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) is integral to good governance and a valuable source of independent advice for the accountable authority of a Commonwealth entity.

  • Foundation Board

    The Foundation Board reports to and makes recommendations to the AIATSIS Council and AIATSIS Executive.  


    The purpose of the AIATSIS Foundation Board is to raise funds, secure gifts and bequests in support of the AIATSIS Vision.


    The functions of the AIATSIS Foundation Board are to:

    • Actively seek philanthropic support through cash donations, gifts and bequests

    • Promote AIATSIS’ work to encourage philanthropic giving to AIATSIS

    • Guide AIATSIS Fundraising activity

    • Connect AIATSIS with strategic partners, including communities, philanthropists, industry, social enterprises and individual donors.

    • Provide advice to the AIATSIS Council and Executive on Foundation matters.

    The AIATSIS Foundation Board consists of a minimum of eight (8) and a maximum of twelve (12) members appointed by the AIATSIS Council.

    Current Foundation Board members:

    • Mr Geoffrey Winters (Chair)

    • Mr Steven Kinnane (Deputy Chair)

    • Mr Len Hill (Member, AIATSIS Interim CEO, ex-officio)

    • Professor Clint Bracknell (AIATSIS Council Member, AIATSIS Council Deputy Chair)

    • Ms Sue Kee (Member)

    • Ms Gabrielle Trainor AO (Member)

    • Mr Morry Schwarz AM (Member)

  • Languages Advisory Committee

    The Languages Advisory Committee provides advice to the AIATSIS CEO on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.

    The Languages Advisory Committee consists of the following members:

    • Up to 7 experts appointed by the AIATSIS CEO
    • The AIATSIS CEO (Chairperson and Ex-Officio)
    • The AIATSIS Executive Director of Research and Education (Ex-Officio)
    • The AIATSIS Director of the AIATSIS Centre for Australian Languages (Ex-Officio)

    Language Advisory Committee members:

    • Chair: AIATSIS Chief Executive Officer (Ex-Officio)
    • Executive Director, AIATSIS Research and Education Group (Ex-Officio)
    • Director, AIATSIS Centre for Australian Languages (Ex-Officio)
    • Ms Noeleen Lumby (Macquarie University)
    • Ms Denise Smith-Ali (Noongar Boodjar Language Cultural Aboriginal Corporation)
    • Mr Desmond Crump (University of Queensland)
    • Mr Clayton Cruse (South Australian Department of Education)
    • Ms Lorraine Injie (Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre)
    • Dr Vicki Couzens (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology [RMIT] University)
    • Professor Jane Simpson (Australian National University)
  • Native Title Research Advisory Committee

    The AIATSIS Native Title Research Advisory Committee (NTRAC) was established by AIATSIS to provide advice to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on the research program of the Native Title Research Unit (NTRU).

    The committee comprises:

    • No fewer than 5 and no greater than 12 members;
      • Comprising majority Indigenous members and should seek to reflect a gender and age balance as well as a balance between institutional and non-institutional membership;
    • The AIATSIS CEO (also Committee chairperson) or their nominated delegate;
    • A representative of the primary funding body of the Native Title Research Unit, nominated by the Commonwealth Department responsible for Indigenous Affairs and approved by the CEO (normally the First Assistant Secretary with responsibility for native title organisations);
    • The AIATSIS Executive Director of Research and Education;
    • At least two native title experts, who are in current practice, connected with native title processes and reflect the disciplinary diversity involved in native title practice.
  • Publishing Advisory Committee

    The Publishing Advisory Committee members offer a range of skills and academic credentials including Indigenous community and language knowledge, research, writing and publishing expertise. Along with staff in the Aboriginal Studies Press team, the committee considers manuscripts submitted for publication. The committee members make recommendations to the CEO about publication. 

    Publishing Advisory Committee members:

    • Professor Odette Best
    • Dr Leah Lui-Chivizhe
    • Emeritus Professor Simon Forrest
    • Associate Professor Jeanine Leane
  • Research Advisory Committee

    The Research Advisory Committee is established under section 31(1) of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Act 1989 (the Act).

    The Research Advisory Committee consists of the following members:

    • Up to 10 experts appointed by the CEO
    • The AIATSIS CEO (Chairperson and ex officio)
    • The AIATSIS Executive Director of Research and Education (ex officio)

    The Research Advisory Committee has the following functions:

    • To provide strategic advice to the CEO in relation to AIATSIS research matters

    Research Advisory Committee members:

    • (Chair, Chief Executive Officer) 
    • Kate Thomann (Executive Director, Research and Education) 
    • Professor Braden Hill
    • Professor Bronwyn Fredericks
    • Professor Colleen Hayward 
    • Professor Jacinta Elston
    • Professor Maggie Walter
    • Professor Peter Anderson
  • Research Ethics Committee

    The AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee is responsible for reviewing projects involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research to ensure the appropriate ethical standards have been met. The Committee welcomes applications from external organisations (fees apply). All AIATSIS research projects are subject to review by the Committee.

    The Committee is registered with the NHMRC and reviews projects in accordance with the National Statement and the AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Islander Research.

    We are currently recruiting members to the AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee (REC).

    Research Ethics Committee members

    Mandy Downing

    Associate Professor Mandy Downing (Co-Chairperson)

    Associate Professor Mandy Downing has maternal lineage to the Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi people through the Lockyer family of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Mandy is Dean, Indigenous Futures in the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin University located on Wadjuk Noongar Boodjar and has worked in various roles in research at Curtin since 2012. Mandy was twice awarded the Curtin University Vice Chancellor’s Excellence Award in 2018 and 2020, is the first Aboriginal person to be appointed as a Dean in the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin University and was inducted into the Western Australian Women’s Hall of Fame for her contributions to education. 

    Mandy joined the AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee in 2019 as a Researcher and as of 2022 has been appointed as a Co-Chairperson. Mandy has a Bachelor of Applied Science Indigenous Australian Research (Honours) degree from Curtin University, Centre for Aboriginal Studies where she explored the institutional barriers which Aboriginal researchers face when conducting human research. Additionally, Mandy graduated from the University of Melbourne with first class honours in a Professional Certificate in Indigenous Research Leadership and is a Doctor of Philosophy candidate at the University of Melbourne with research interests in anticolonial policy and institutional racism. Mandy is a graduate from the Western Australian Aboriginal Leadership Institute and has worked in the education, employment and training sector for over 20 years. Mandy is a Committee member for the University of Western Australia Human Research Ethics Committee and the Western Australian Department of Education Schools Animal Ethics Committee.

    Further, Mandy is a consultant with the Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services, the Australian lead of the Australasian Research Management Society’s First Nations Research Special Interest Group and the Co-Facilitator of the Western Australian Aboriginal Leadership Institute’s Emerging Leadership program.


    Chris Bourke

    Dr Chris Bourke (Co-Chairperson)

    Dr Chris Bourke leads CSIRO’s Indigenous Science and Engagement program that is focussed on equitable partnerships and transformational change through tackling national challenges prioritised by Indigenous Australia. Chris is a Gamillaroi man and Australia’s first Indigenous dentist. In an extensive career he has held clinical positions in the private and public sector including his own private dental practice, Aboriginal Medical Services, public hospitals and state/territory health departments. In his recent role with the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association he led their work on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, aged care, rural health and oral health. From 2011 to 2016, Chris was a Member of the ACT Legislative Assembly, with various ministerial portfolios.

    Chris has postgraduate diplomas in Public Health and Clinical Dentistry (Oral Implants) and an MBA. He is an Honorary Professor at Macquarie University, Honorary Clinical Associate Professor at Melbourne University, Adjunct Associate Professor at Griffith University and a Fellow of the International College of Dentistry. Chris is a board member of the Australian Dental Council and co-chairs the ACT Reconciliation Council. Chris joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2022 as Co-Chairperson.

    Andrew Crowden

    Associate Professor Andrew Crowden (Executive Member)

    Andrew Crowden has PhD and Master’s degrees from the Bioethics Centre at Monash University. He is Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of Queensland’s (UQ) School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry and is Chairperson of the UQ Ethics Advisory Group. He is an Honorary Principal Fellow at the University of Melbourne and an Adjunct Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast where he is Chairperson of the Human Research Ethics Committee. Andrew’s research in philosophy, ethics, genomics and data science is funded by the University of Queensland, the Queensland Genomic Health Alliance and the John Templeton Foundation in collaboration with the University of Virginia and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. Andrew joined the AIATSIS Research Ethics Committee in 2017.

    Alwin Chong

    Associate Professor Alwin Chong

    Alwin is a Wakamin man from Far North Queensland and is currently a Director of Arney Chong Consulting. He has over 35 years of research experience in various roles as Associate Professor at the Australian Centre for Child Protection (ACCP), Director for Positive Futures Research Collaboration, Acting Director of Yaitya Purruna Indigenous Health Unit (YPIHU), and Senior Research and Ethics Officer for the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia. He is also a member of the NHMRC Australian Health Ethics Committee.

    Alwin's areas of expertise closely align with his commitment to Indigenous health and child protection. These areas include alternative strategies for Aboriginal child protection, conducting research that tackles large societal issues such as smoking and gambling in Indigenous communities, and the perception around Fatherhood for young Indigenous men. Alwin joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2020 as a Researcher.

    Research Ethics Committee - Michelle Dickson

    Dr Michelle Dickson

    Associate Professor Michelle Dickson is a Darkinjung/Ngarigo (Aboriginal, New South Wales, Australia) academic in the Sydney School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney. She lives and works on Gadigal land in Sydney, Australia and commenced at the University of Sydney in 2010. Dr Dickson has worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing service delivery, research, and health professions education for 27 years. She is Deputy Head of the Sydney School of Public Health and was the former Academic Program Director of the Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals. In 2016 the Council of Council of Academic Public Health Institutions Australasia (CAPHIA) awarded her with recognition of her contribution to the Public Health profession. In 2021 the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) awarded her for her contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Public Health. 

    As Chief Investigator on several state, national and international research collaborations, Dr Dickson focuses on privileging Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing in health and wellbeing service delivery, health professions education and capacity building to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Committed to mentoring and supporting future leaders, Dr Dickson provides strategic and cultural support to students and colleagues in across government, non-government and community-controlled sectors. 

    Michelle joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2022 as a Researcher.

    Shavaun Wells

    Shavaun Wells

    Shavaun Wells is a proud Taungurung woman. She has a passion for working with communities and two way learning between communities and researchers.  The concept of improving Indigenous health, wellbeing and quality of life resonates with Shavaun and has influenced the roles, research and studies that she has undertaken. She is supportive of the idea that there will always be an important role for academics and health professionals to improve health and empower Indigenous communities.

    Shavaun has a Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion and has worked in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector for 12 years, commencing as an Aboriginal Health Worker and continuing into a researcher role at the Australian National University.

    Shavaun joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2022 as a Researcher.

    Research Ethics Committee - Tammy Small

    Tammy Small

    Tammy Small (family name Gordon) is a Wiradjuri woman who grew up in Western Sydney on Dharug country and spent a lot of time with family on Murie lands in Condobolin, NSW. Tammy is currently the Manager of Projects, Indigenous Advancement at the University of Wollongong located on Dharawal Country. She has extensive experience in higher education settings where she has worked in various roles including Manager of Student Advancement, Indigenous Employment Coordinator, Academic Engagement, Tertiary Educator (Lecturer/tutorial teacher in Aboriginal Education and Contemporary Issues- core course for all Teaching students) and Project Officer for an Indigenous Pro-Vice Chancellor. 

    Tammy has a Bachelor of Teaching/Bachelor of Arts with a specialisation in Secondary Social Science Teaching awarded from the University of Newcastle. Prior to her time in the higher education sector, Tammy was a History teacher at Hunter School of the Performing Arts where additional to her teaching load she revitalised the existing Aboriginal Dance ensemble Millabah. 

    She joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2022 as a Researcher. Tammy feels that cultural revival is core business for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and that whilst we have come a long way over the past 234 the voices have changed but the issues remain the same.

    Research Ethics Committee - Crystal McKinnon

    Dr Crystal McKinnon

    Crystal McKinnon (B.A. (First Class), Ph.D.) is an Amangu Yamatji academic, researcher and community organiser who lives and works on Kulin Nation country. She is a historian and a critical Indigenous studies scholar, who is currently working at RMIT as a Vice Chancellor’s Indigenous Research Fellow in the Social and Global Studies Centre. Crystal has extensive governance experience and has previously worked in both the Aboriginal community organisation and the community legal centre sectors. Her research work has looked at concepts of Indigenous sovereignty, justice and law, and Indigenous social movements, resistance and protest. Crystal joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2022 as a Researcher.

    Research Ethics Committee - Jake Gordon

    Jake Gordon

    Jake Gordon is a proud Ngemba/Gamilaraay man originating from Brewarrina NSW, with his formative years spent on Ngunnawal and Awabakal Country. Jake is the Eldest Grandson of the late Stephen George Gordon ATSIC Commissioner. Jake is currently based in Sydney residing on Gadigal Country. Sharing similar aspirations to his Grandfather in relation to the betterment of Aboriginal people, Jake has worked in both Federal and State Governments in various portfolios to assist Aboriginal communities over the past twelve years. Jake is further recognised for his Aboriginal advocacy work stemming from an international modelling career. This includes Ambassador roles for high profile charity organisations such as Kidney Foundation and One Laptop Per Child. Jake has appeared on various news outlets advocating for social change in relation to how First Nations people are represented in mainstream media and advertising. 

    Jake has a Bachelor of Business (Human Resources, Digital Media & Communications) and a Master of Business Administration (Leadership); both from Charles Sturt University. Jake is currently undertaking his Doctor of Philosophy with the University of Technology Sydney with a key focus on cultural safety as it relates to First Nations peoples. 

    Jake joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2022. 

    Dr Angela Dos Santos

    Angela is a Gumbaynggirr and Kwiambal woman from the NSW mid north coast. She is Australia's first and only Aboriginal neurologist. She graduated medicine from the Western Sydney University in 2011. She completed physician and neurology training in Sydney in 2018, and then underwent further Stroke speciality training with a Fellowship at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 2019. She is currently employed as a neurologist and stroke physician at the Royal Melbourne and Alfred Hospitals. She works on Australia’s first Mobile Stroke Unit (ambulance equipped with mobile CT) in Melbourne. She also is a stroke neurologist for the Victorian Stroke Telehealth network.

    Angela teaches First Nations Health to medical students at the University of Melbourne. She does outreach neurology clinics in both Alice Springs and Darwin. She works as a Senior Clinical Research Fellow for the Australian Stroke Alliance and is completing a PhD at the University of Melbourne focussed on Stroke in First Nations people.

    Angela joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2022 as a Practitioner.

    Robyn Williams

    Dr Robyn Williams

    Robyn is a non-Indigenous woman who has nursing and education qualifications and forty plus years of experience of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, primarily in the NT but also all over Australia. Her experience and interests include cultural safety, effective communication; curriculum development and program implementation; evaluation of community-based programs; and qualitative research in Indigenous, rural, and remote health issues. 

    Robyn spent the last 30 years working mostly in the tertiary sector, where she taught across several undergraduate, postgraduate, and short courses. 

    In 2020, Robyn was awarded her PhD thesis on exploring preparation for health professionals to be culturally safe and effective practitioners in Indigenous primary health care settings (urban, rural, and remote).In May 2020, Robyn was appointed Adjunct Research Fellow, Honorary, College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Society  and then Adjunct Research Fellow, Honorary, Menzies School of Health Research in March 2021.

    In addition to working on cultural safety workshops as well as qualitative research short courses, Robyn is co-supervising PhD students and tutoring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing students. Robyn is currently working on developing a Cultural Safety Framework for the NT ACCHO sector, coordinating a qualitative research short course, and is also engaged in a range of community based projects as a qualitative research consultant. 

    Robyn joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2022 as a Practitioner.

    Tracey Powis

    Dr Tracey Powis

    Tracey is a pākehā (European descent, from Aotearoa/New Zealand) cis-woman who grew up in Australia and has spent a fair amount of her life going back and forth across the ditch for work and family reasons. She's worked with Aboriginal communities in a number of capacities, whether in research, community-outreach or therapeutic services. She's also a mother to two children, of pākehā & Aboriginal heritage respectively.

    Currently Tracey works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and their families in Canberra, ACT.

    Tracey joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019 as a Practitioner. Tracey has tertiary qualifications in psychology and research and is genuinely surprised to realise that she's been working in this space for almost 15 years. She continues to learn from those who have gone before her, and from the children and young people in her life, who keep her accountable on a daily basis.

    Kay Blades

    Kay Blades

    Kay Blades is a Mandandanji woman from South West Queensland. Kay joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2019 as a Pastoral Care representative. She is recognised around the country for her work in building the cultural capability of staff working for Commonwealth agencies and departments.

    Kay has worked with the Commonwealth for 33 years. For a lot of these years she has worked in Indigenous affairs. Kay also brings to the committee her lived experiences of holding an advisory position with not-for-profit Aboriginal organisations for the past 7 years.

    Natalie Clark Reynolds

    Natalie joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2020 as a Layperson. She was born in Canada into a family who embedded in her an empathy and caring in all she undertakes. Natalie has a degree in Chemical Engineering and although her career begin in technical fields, she has migrated towards areas of ethics, health and education. She has been a Community Representative on Bellberry Limited Human Research Ethics Committees since 2009, has also worked as a Consumer Representative on her local health network and with CT:IQ on a project to improve recruitment of clinical trials in Australia. Natalie works part time as a student support officer in a primary school and spends much enjoyable time with her family.


    Jessica Ling

    Jessica Ling

    Jessica Ling is a legal and research professional with several years’ experience working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, organisations and communities. 

    Jessica has been working with the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI) since 2020 in the position of Executive Manager (Research and Advocacy). Jessica’s position at AIGI gives her constant exposure to, and involvement with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research. 

    Prior to this appointment, Jessica practised as a native title lawyer for over 5 years at Queensland South Native Title Services. In this role, Jessica was responsible for reviewing and critically analysing anthropological reports and other evidentiary materials. Jessica continues to hold a practising certificate for in-house legal services to AIGI. 

    Through these roles, Jessica brings a breadth of experience in the types of ethical issues that can arise in conducting research, particularly in the native title context. Jessica joined the Research Ethics Committee in 2022 as a Lawyer.

Last updated: 06 June 2024