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The Northern Australia Indigenous Reference Group advises the government about northern Australia matters.

Established in December 2017, the group:

Meetings and communiqués

To contact the Indigenous Reference Group, email northernaustralia [at]


The group comprises senior Indigenous leaders from the three northern jurisdictions. Members are selected for their high-level of 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.

State: Northern Territory


  • Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Broadcasting Australia, Australia’s largest 100 per cent 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.

State: Northern Australia


  • Chief Executive Officer, Darwin-based Larrakia Development Corporation and, served as chair or board member for over a decade.
  • 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 in 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, Queensland

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, Queensland

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. On the council of the National Museum of Australia.
  • Won the 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Award, Queensland.
  • Named Queensland Not-for-profit Manager of the Year in 2012 by Australian Institute of Management

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Contact us

  • Email northernaustralia [at]
  • Phone 08 8923 4403
  • Post to GPO Box 2013, Canberra, ACT, 2601

Last updated: 12 February 2020

Content ID: 42981