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08:30 - 09:00


09:15 - 09:40

Welcome & Opening Comments


Founder and Director, Women's Business

09:40 - 09:50

Welcome Address


Chief Executive Officer, Women & Leadership Australia

09:00 - 09:15


09:50 - 10:20

Opening Address




10:20 - 10:50

Keynote Address





11:20 - 12:55


For Our Elders

Inspired by the 2023 NAIDOC Week theme For Our Elders, our panel will explore important contributions First Nations Elders have made – and continue to make – as cultural knowledge holders, pioneers, advocates, survivors, leaders, and more. Our expert panellists will discuss learnings gathered from the struggles, strength, and tenacity of Elders and how these can positively impact future decisions for all First Nations peoples.

Panel Members


Principal Policy Analyst, Australian Education Research Organisation

Carly Jia is a nationally recognised education leader with over 19 years’ experience in senior leadership roles at international, national and regional levels. As a Yidinji, Badulaig and Meriam woman from Far North Queensland, Carly is passionate about the benefits and opportunities that education creates and is an advocate for the importance of Indigenous knowledge and the role it plays in improving education outcomes. She is the Principal Policy Analyst for First Nations Education Research with the Australian Education Research Organisation, looking at ways to improve excellence and equity in educational outcomes for Indigenous Australians. A published author and sought-after board and advisory committee member, Carly holds a Master of Education and a Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Education from QUT.


Founder & Chef, Mabu Mabu

Nornie Bero is an Island girl - from the Komet Tribe of the Meriam people of Mer Island, she was raised in the Torres Strait. As a professional chef for over 20 years in Melbourne and London, Bero is passionate about sharing the food culture she grew up with on the Islands. She is the owner and executive chef of Mabu Mabu, a hospitality and food business in Melbourne that celebrates the fantastic Indigenous produce and flavours from across this big Island now known as Australia. Through her retail products, recently published cookbook, and flagship restaurant Big Esso at Federation Square, Bero is on a mission to get native herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, and sustainable meats in every Australian kitchen pantry. 


Chief Executive Officer, Murawin

Carol Vale is a Dunghutti woman and CEO of Murawin, an Indigenous Voice Consultancy offering services nationwide through offices in Brisbane and Sydney. Carol is a professional facilitator, social researcher, and policy analyst with expertise in Aboriginal issues, public policy, and stakeholder engagement across a range of sectors. Prior to Murawin, Carol has been a senior officer in the NSW and QLD Governments, spanning a career of 35+ years across Aboriginal Affairs including housing, education, child safety, justice, and intergovernmental relations. Within Murawin, Carol has created The Morning Sky Initiative, which is Murawin's philanthropic endeavour which focuses on educational and economic empowerment and gender equality for First Nations women and girls, whilst at the same time collaborating with sisters from culturally and racially marginalised (CARM) backgrounds to work together for collective empowerment.  


Owner & Principal Consultant, Kulpa Mardita 

Sophia is the Owner Principal Consultant Kulpa Mardita delivering community-led outcomes through a participatory approach based on principles of reciprocity, respect, equality, survival, protection, and responsibility. Sophia is a Barkandji woman from Gol Gol in western NSW, currently completing a creative practice PhD in Architecture and Landscape Design through RMIT. Sophia’s research identifies that knowledge production is created with and through Indigenous ways of knowing and doing. Sophia’s research seeks to further decolonise methodologies and will be focused on the production of artefacts including weaving using evolving techniques whilst exploring material properties through their life cycle connecting to culture and country. Sophia is a passionate advocate for her people at both a local and national level. Sophia’s work has been published nationally and internationally in both academic and community forums.

12:55 - 13:45


14:45 - 15:10

Afternoon Tea

16:50 - 17:00

Closing Comments


Founder and Director, Women's Business

13:45 - 14:15

Keynote Address


Councillor, City of Melton

Ashleigh is a Registered Nurse specialising in surgical, a mother of two and a proud Wiradjuri woman, with a strong passion for helping people. Ashleigh is the City of Melton’s first Aboriginal Councillor with a focus on being a voice for her community, fighting to ensure important community issues and needs are at the forefront of council decision making to build a healthy, safe and strong future for all. Ashleigh holds a Bachelor of Nursing and Bachelor of Biomedical Science, Throughout the pandemic Ashleigh was deployed to COVID wards and is currently working as an expert care coordinator at a major Melbourne hospital. 

14:15 - 14:45

Keynote Address


Chief Executive Officer, Supply Nation; Lead Facilitator Straight Talk, Oxfam

Michelle Deshong is a proud Kuku Yalanji woman from Townsville, North Queensland. She has a strong passion for women’s rights and is recognised globally for her efforts in the gender justice space, transforming gender power relations and norms through her efforts. Michelle has advocated and supported the capability and pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders women’s participation in public and political life. This has included leading the Straight Talk Program and Indigenous Leadership and governance development across Australia. Michelle has previously been the CEO of the Australian Indigenous Governance Institution and Interim CEO of Supply Nation. Michelle manages her own consultancy business (Deshong Consulting) and holds Directorship on Boards across various sectors.

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Thursday 3 August 2023

Sofitel on Collins, Naarm

25 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC, 3000

10:50 - 11:20

Morning Tea

15:10 - 15:40

Keynote Address


Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA)

Muriel Bamblett is a Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung woman who has been employed as the CEO of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency since 1999.  Muriel is active on many boards and committees concerning children, families and the Indigenous community, including Chairperson of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC), the peak Australian agency for Indigenous child and family services; the Aboriginal Children’s Forum; the First Peoples Treaty Assembly and the Aboriginal Justice Forum. Muriel’s contribution to her community and to Victoria has been recognised and she received the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2019 for distinguished service to the Indigenous community in Victoria as an advocate for the self determination and cultural rights of children.

15:40 - 16:10

Keynote Address


Deputy Chair Commissioner, Yoorrook Justice Commission

Sue-Anne Hunter is a proud Wurundjeri and Ngu rai Illum Wurrung woman and the Deputy Chair and Commissioner of Australia’s first truth telling process – the Yoorrook Justice Commission. She is an Adjunct Professor of Global Engagement at Federation University and a member of the National Centre for Reconciliation, Truth, and Justice Advisory Board. A child and family services practitioner by trade, Sue-Anne has over twenty years’ clinical experience responding to developmental, transgenerational and community trauma. She is widely recognised for developing rights-based, transformative practice responses that empower Aboriginal people to heal from the continuing effects and processes of colonisation. Sue-Anne has extensive experience in the governance and the leadership of Aboriginal community controlled organisations, and her expertise is regularly sought for government inquiries, parliamentary and ministerial advisory committees, academic research projects and media interviews. 

16:10 - 16:50

Keynote Address


Speaker; Writer; Filmmaker

Sasha Sarago is a proud Aboriginal woman of the Wadjanbarra Yidinji and Jirrbal clans ‘Rainforest People’ of Cairns, Far North Queensland. Sasha is also of African-American, Malay, Mauritian and Spanish descent. A former model, Sasha grew frustrated by the invisibility of women of colour in fashion and media. Tired of importing oversees publications to see reflections of herself Sasha had an epiphany. In 2011, Sasha founded Ascension Australia’s first Indigenous and ethnic women’s lifestyle magazine. Ascension is a new dialogue of cultural identity and self-representation – a haven for women of colour to see, hear and know thyself. A lover of new beginnings, Sasha is trying her hand as a writer, director, and producer for a series of digital projects designed to capture the diversity of who she is and her imagination of what could be. Sasha’s dream is to savour the breathtaking views of Positano; Moscato in hand as the founder of a globally inspiring lifestyle and media company. 

In collaboration with Women's Business

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