Belinda Duarte - Co-Chair
Belinda Duarte (née Jakiel) was born and raised in Ballarat, Victoria, and is a descendant of the Wotjobaluk people with Celtic and Polish origins. Belinda is currently the CEO of Culture is Life. She has a strong track record in cross-sectoral engagement and a depth of experience in senior roles and governance from voluntary, Aboriginal controlled, not-for-profit organisations through to statutory bodies. She holds a range of positions including Advisory Board Member of the Koori Youth Council, Panel Member of the Premier’s Jobs & Investment Panel, Director of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, Director of WasteAid, and Member of the Victorian Regional Churchill Fellowship Committee. As a qualified teacher, Belinda has also worked in education, training and community development.
Michelle Isles - Co-Chair
Michelle was born in Melbourne and has family in regional Victoria, Western Australia, Indonesia and Europe. "I always knew I would work for our environment and learned as a child to use my voice to speak up. I’ve since learned the language and practice of journalism, science and law to create change. Listening to country and learning how people might better relate to and care for each other is a lifelong journey! I volunteered for Reconciliation Victoria for a few years before joining the Council. I have met people who have changed the way I think and approach life. Reconciliation for me is about dealing with my own family history and identity, acknowledgment of discrimination and conflict, building knowledge and respect and an enabling environment where self-determination thrives."
Keith Gove - Secretary
Keith has been a member of his local reconciliation group for 18 years, 17 of which he has been President. He was elected to the Reconciliation Victoria Council in 2006 and served as Co-Chair from 2008 until 2016. He sees that reconciliation has two major outcomes: one is to overcome the unacceptable disadvantage that Aboriginal people experience due to the arrival of Europeans to the land now called Australia. The second is for non-Aboriginal Australians to embrace, recognise and value Aboriginal culture, identity and history; to build it into a new Australian identity. This respect and recognition will strengthen Aboriginal people and communities.
John Farlow - Treasurer
John is a CPA and for 25 years has been Principal of his own consultancy which offers accounting, company secretarial, compliance and governance and information technology services. “I have always believed that you should balance your commercial career with support for community based groups and therefore put my hand up to become Treasurer of Reconciliation Victoria ... My wife and I travel frequently to outback Australia and often see first hand the impact of modern Australia on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Travelling in remote areas you also experience a connection with the land, helping me to understand and have empathy with the importance of country to Indigenous peoples, although I also understand that our experience of this connection is small compared to its importance to the life and culture of our First Peoples.”
Vicki is a descendant of the Mutthi Mutthi tribe of southwest NSW. Her home country is centred in the Mungo National Park area. Vicki participated in the Commonwealth and State Government consultations that formulated the current Willandra Lakes World Heritage Property Plan of Management. She was an active stakeholder as a representative of the affiliated Aboriginal Tribal Groups (Mutthi Mutthi). Vicki was Co-Chair of Reconciliation Victoria between 2008 and 2015. She is a member of the selection committee for the annual nominations for the Victorian Parliament's Indigenous Honour Roll. She is also very involved with the Catholic Aboriginal Ministry in Thornbury and is one of the founders of the Opening the Doors Foundation. In 2014 Vicki was recognised as one of the Westpac/Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence. Vicki was inducted into the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll in 2017.
"I’m an Aboriginal man, born with a disability, in the small Victorian country town of Robinvale. For access to medical treatment, I was brought down to the Royal Children’s Hospital when I was just three weeks old, a move which profoundly altered my life journey. After a stay in hospital, instead of being returned to my family, I was shuffled around a number of Babies' Homes in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, before being placed with a non-Aboriginal family. I think the experience of separation has driven a desire to increase the level of understanding and purpose in my life. My identity is the core of who I am as a human being, so not growing up with family and culture severed any links to my cultural roles and responsibilities. My life journey then is reconnection, finding ways to identify the direction in which I should travel. I continue to learn, yarning with my mob about our culture, history, protocols, the past and the future. If I can use these as a base to not only better my life, but the lives of my family and community, then I feel I have achieved a significant goal." John was inducted into the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll in 2016.
Melissa is a descendant of the Yorta Yorta and Wiradjeri people and lives in Melbourne. She has worked as a teacher in Victoria and the NT, in Primary, Secondary, University, TAFE, Prison, Museum, the Church and in the welfare sector. Melissa’s work, commitment and active community involvement over the last 20 years has focused on cross cultural awareness and reconciliation among Australians. Melissa has also had a high profile involvement in the Stolen Generations movement in Victoria and nationally. Melissa has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education, Catechist Diploma, Rite of Christian Initiation Adults Certificate and a deferred Masters of Arts in Aboriginal Studies. "I joined Reconciliation Victoria because I believe that Reconciliation Victoria aspires to, and will encourage shared understandings and undertakings, encourage and promote Aboriginal inclusion, and make a positive impact for good developing relationships among Aboriginal and other Australians, for the benefit of mutual respect and harmonious unison for Victorians."
Deb was born and bred in Frankston with mostly English heritage a generation back; her family history and stories don’t go back any further than that. Deb reflects that maybe that’s why she’s so committed to learning about, understanding and respecting the stories of this land and the First Peoples of this continent. She’s also a (single) mother to two boys and feels strongly that she does not want their journey to understand this country "to be as hidden, manipulated and dishonest as I had it. I also think the consequences of the illegal and violent occupation of this country are experienced very differently and very unjustly." Deb is a community development worker and has worked in lots of places here and overseas trying to promote respect and justice so Reconciliation Victoria is a great fit. A saying developed by a group of Aboriginal activists in Queensland during the 1970s sums up why she is committed to reconciliation: “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together”.
Trevor is a Kamilaroi man. His mother’s country is in north-western NSW from Coonabarabran to Mooree and he was born and raised in Sydney. Trevor first moved to Victoria in 1988 and has family ties with Aboriginal communities in NSW and VIC. He comes from a strong Aboriginal family that has always contributed to the development and strengthening of Aboriginal society in South-Eastern Australia. Trevor has over 35 years experience working with First Nations communities at local, state and national levels. He has practical, first-hand experience in the public and private sector with a primary focus on community capacity building and management. In 2006 Trevor received the Victorian Indigenous Leadership Fellowship, Emerging Leader Award (previously the Sir Douglas Nichols Fellowship) for outstanding contribution to Indigenous community capacity building within Victorian Aboriginal communities. In past lives he has worked in the areas of Aboriginal cultural heritage, environmental protection and management, health, economic capacity building and social and emotional well-being. Trevor currently is the Director of Education and Training Unit (ETU) for the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO).
We rely strongly on the support of our amazing volunteers who assist us in a range of roles across the organisation.
If you would like to speak to us about volunteering opportunities please email us, and include a bit about yourself, your areas of interest and skills/experience.