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Northern Australia Indigenous Reference Group

The Northern Australia Indigenous Reference Group advises the government on Indigenous economic advancement in northern Australia.

Established in December 2017, the group:

  • provides input to the northern Australia agenda to ensure it benefits local Indigenous land owners, communities and businesses
  • supports and advises the Australian Government on northern development

Meeting communiqués


The group comprises senior Indigenous leaders from the three northern jurisdictions. Members have high-level expertise and experience across a range of industries, sectors and regions. They don’t represent specific organisations or communities.

Mr Peter Yu

Mr Yu is a Yawuru man from Broome.

State: Western Australia


  • Board member, North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance.
  • Chief Executive Officer, Nyamba Buru Yawuru Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate.

Mr Lawford Benning

Mr Benning is from Kununurra.

State: Western Australia


  • Chair, MG Corporation which represents the interests of Miriuwung and Gajerrong native title holders.
  • Chief Executive Officer, Gelganyem Trust for the traditional owners of the Argyle Participation Agreement.
  • Board member, Binarri-binyja Yarrawoo Aboriginal Corporation (Empowered Communities, East Kimberley).

Mr Joe Morrison

Mr Morrison was born and raised in Katherine and has Dagoman and Torres Strait Islander heritage.

State: Northern Territory


  • Chief Executive Officer, Northern Land Council, 2014 to 2018.
  • Founding Chief Executive Officer of the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance.

Dr Donna Odegaard AM

Dr Odegaard is a Larrakia woman from Darwin.

State: Northern Territory


  • Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Broadcasting Australia, Australia’s largest 100% Indigenous owned television, radio and production network
  • Awarded an Order of Australia in 2016 for her contribution to protecting and preserving Indigenous cultural heritage, reconciliation and Indigenous broadcasting and media

Mr Nigel Browne

Mr Browne is a Larrakia and Wulna man from Darwin.

State: Northern Australia


  • Chief Executive Officer, Darwin-based Larrakia Development Corporation; former chair and board member.
  • Previous roles include: Crown Prosecutor in the Northern Territory (NT) Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, working on Aboriginal Lands for the Solicitor for the NT, Policy Advisor in the NT Chief Minister’s Office.
  • Previous board positions: North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, Law Society (NT) and Australia Day Council (NT).
  • National Indigenous Legal Professional of the Year, 2011.
  • Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Education: Bachelor of Laws

Mr Colin Saltmere

Associate Professor Saltmere is an Indjalandji-Dhidhanu man.

State: Queensland


  • Associate Professor at the Aboriginal Environments Research Centre, University of Queensland.
  • Managing Director of Indjalandji-Dhidhanu Aboriginal Corporation, Myuma and Rainbow Gateway.

Ms Vonda Malone

Ms Malone is a Torres Strait Islander woman.

State: Queensland


  • Created history in 2016 by becoming the first Indigenous female Mayor of the Torres Shire Council.
  • Awarded the prestigious McKinnon Prize for Emerging Political Leader of the Year in 2018.
  • The first Torres Strait Islander woman to work internationally with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and UN Office of the Human Rights Commissioner in Geneva.
  • Established and chairs the first community controlled primary health care service in the Torres Strait.
  • Received the 2001 Centenary Medal.

Education: Graduate Certificate in Australian Rural Leadership and Public Sector Management.

Ms Fiona Jose

Ms Jose is a Kuku Yalanji and Torres Strait Islander woman.

State: Queensland


  • Executive General Manager of Cape Operations, Cape York Partnership.
  • A leader of the Cape York Partnerships Empowered Communities initiative, board member of Bama Services and chair of the Jawun Advisory Group.
  • Non-Executive Director of Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, Djarragun College and Cape York Girl Academy.
  • Council member, National Museum of Australia.
  • Winner, 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Award for Queensland.
  • 2012 Queensland Not-for-profit Manager of the Year, Australian Institute of Management.

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Last updated: 8 December 2020

Content ID: 42981