Belinda Duarte - Co Chair
Belinda was born and raised in Ballarat and is a descendant of the Wotjobaluk people.
She is a qualified teacher and a former elite track and field athlete. Her professional experience involves extensive work on boards and in managerial roles with young people, Aboriginal communities, sport & health and pathway programs in education, training & employment. She led the development of the Indigenous Employment Program with AFL SportsReady building pathway for young Indigenous people across the country into traineeship and career pathways.
As the inaugural Director of the Korin Gamadji Institute based at Richmond Football Club she was awarded ‘Football Woman of the Year’ in 2012 for her leadership in establishing a facility which provides leadership, accredited training and career pathway programs for young Indigenous people together with pathway partners.
Belinda was appointed as Co Chair in October 2015.
Michelle Isles - Co Chair
Michelle's mother's family is from Wotjabaluk country. She was born near the Dandenong Creek, now lives in Flemington and has spent a lot of time in Indonesia.
"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 and care for each other is a lifelong journey! I’m a dancer and I fly (with the help of a glider)."
"I volunteered for Reconciliation Victoria for a few years before joining the Council. I feel gratitude. 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 achieving recognition and rights to strengthen our communities."
"I hope that the young people I know today will have grown to be healthy adults with connection to their culture and the choice to be whatever they wish. I hope that elders see a change in this country that brings peace to their hearts. Treaties will have helped this. I hope that all Australians will understand the cultural histories of the places where they reside and will know Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The diverse and dynamic nature of cultural identity will be respected."
Michelle was appointed as Co Chair in November 2016.
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 RecVic 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. Two 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 in 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 RecVic.”
“My wife and I travel frequently to outback Australia and often see first hand the impact of modern Australia on Aboriginal andTorres 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.”
“I would like to think that through my involvement in RecVic I am helping in a small way to help foster reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.”
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 supports the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of Victoria by maintaining a Centre that is a place of welcome and of spiritual healing. At the same time she works strongly as an advocate for justice for her people within the Catholic Church and in the wider community.
Vicki was Co-Chair of Reconciliation Victoria between 2008 and October 2015. She is a member of the selection committee for the annual nominations for the Victorian Parliament's Indigenous Honour Roll, is strongly involved with the Catholic Aboriginal Ministry in Thornbury as well as being one of the founders of the Opening the Doors Foundation. In 2014 Vicki was recognised as one of the Westpac/Fin Review’s 100 Women of Influence.
"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 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."
Melissa is a descendant of the Yorta Yorta and Wiradjeri people and resides 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.
In 1989 she received a Maribyrnong City Council Reconciliation Award for advancing the rights and community life of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Melissa also has 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, make a positive impact for good developing relationships among Aboriginal and other Australians; for the benefit of mutual respect and harmonious unison for Victorians.”
Kath Travis is a proud Aboriginal woman, mother of 3 adult children, mother-aunty in traditional ways, sister, fiancé and step-mother.
Kath has been actively involved in Aboriginal education across all sectors from early years to higher education. Kath has worked across Geelong, the region and across the State, advocating for equitable outcomes for Aboriginal children, young people and their families.
Kath is currently employed by the Department of Education and Training in the central office on secondment as the Aboriginal Inclusion Advisor. Kath is also completing her Graduate Certificate in Management (Public Sector) with LaTrobe University.
In her spare time, Kath is working on writing a book – which reflects on a reunion to self, looks at opportunity to overcome isolation and distress, overcoming the effects of trauma and grief, discovering strategies for institutional racism and strengthening identity.
Kath says, ‘Understanding and valuing cultural diversity are the keys to combatting racism and the purpose in life is to be free to explore the uniqueness of culture and identity.”
Kath’s involvement with Reconciliation has been a long standing one, with her commitment in the early years with the One Fire Reconciliation Group and the attendance as a City of Greater Geelong representative at Corroboree 2000 with the Council Mayor.
Kath strives to provide opportunities for her children to grow their cultural expression and consistently continues the transmission of knowledge of her ancestors from generation to generation.
Peter is a founding member of ANTaR and the current National President. He worked for many years at VACCA as Policy and Research Manager, and now leads the Indigenous Rights, Advocacy and Policy Unit at Oxfam Australia. He is married with two kids, both at university.
"I don’t think a non-indigenous person can live justly on this invaded land without working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for the recognition of their inherent rights and particularly their right to self-determination.”
“In 10 years’ time I’d like to see Australia as a land which recognises the rights and status of the First Peoples and a land of many treaties".
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. 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 doesn’t want their journey to understand this country to be as hidden, manipulated and dishonest as she had it. She also thinks 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.
The saying developed by a group of Aboriginal Activists, in Queensland during the 1970’s, sums up why she is commited 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”.