The Aboriginal Cultural Council (the Council) is established with the support of the Communities Leadership Team. It supports the Department to exercise governance, strategy and responsibilities within a culturally secure framework. The Council’s role is to provide advice to the Communities Leadership Team’s Aboriginal Outcomes Committee.

The Council is responsible for:

  • Providing cultural advice and information that supports Aboriginal inclusion and reconciliation to create better outcomes for Aboriginal people.
  • Offering advice from an Aboriginal perspective, ensuring policy and practice development is informed with a cultural viewpoint.
  • Advising on Aboriginal inclusion initiatives to produce a range of services and programs that build on and factor in cultural capability and cultural competency.
  • Guiding the Department to build cultural capabilities in attitudes, behaviours, skills and knowledge, by offering cultural advice.
  • Identifying emerging trends for the Aboriginal community, to enable the co-development of responsive, innovative and practical programs that deliver optimal outcomes for Aboriginal people.
  • Providing information and cultural intelligence to the Department’s Reconciliation Action Plan working group with a focus on race relations, equality and equity, institutional integrity, unity and historical acceptance.
  • Supporting the Department to gain a deeper understanding of Aboriginal culture and society, and deliver reforms through Aboriginal Services and Sector Improvement Initiatives.
  • Identifying opportunities to ensure that the Department create a culturally cohesive working environment, enabling the practice of contemporary and traditional customs pertinent to:
    • Aboriginal family, kinships and skin groups
    • Aboriginal culture and traditional practices
    • Country for Aboriginal people, that is local, and place-based

Aboriginal Cultural Council members

Patrick Green

Patrick Green is a Bunuba man from the Fitzroy Valley Region who lives in Junjuwa Community. Patrick is a long-term Board Member of organisations in the Valley including Chairperson of the Fitzroy Crossing Trust which is owned by six Aboriginal communities in the Fitzroy Valley.

Patrick is also a Board Member for the Yapawarnti Fund and the Marra Worra Worra Resource Agency and has spent majority of his life participating in developing and delivering initiatives for the advancement of Aboriginal people and communities throughout the State.

Patrick is also a member of the Aboriginal Lands Trust (ALT) and says that providing recommendations for the Bonner Report (1976) was a significant occasion for him as Aboriginal people were able to access and use the lands more effectively. 

When Patrick is not providing his many consulting roles and finding better ways to deliver a better lifestyle for his children, family and community he is a family man spending time at home with his four children and 15 grandchildren.

Preston Thomas

Preston 'Mr T' Thomas is a Senior Ngaanyatjarra man from Laverton who has lived in Kanpa Community for over 20 years, which is located in relatively close proximity to Warburton Community.

Some of Preston’s current roles include being the Chairperson of Kanpa Community Council, WA Deputy Chair and Councillor of Ngaanyatjarraku Shire Council, Executive Member of Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia, Director of the Aboriginal Health Council of WA and Director of the Aboriginal Lands Trust.

Preston's previous experience includes being on the board for Ngaanyatjarra Health and Ngaanyatjarra Council (Aboriginal Corporation). Preston is deeply committed to the issues facing Aboriginal people and is a vital conduit between many organisations in his local community.

Patrick Egan

Patrick Egan is a Bidimurdiun Wumbudin Nyungar Marman (strong proud Nyungar man) who is one of nine siblings. He was born in Northam with cultural connections to Yuad (Moora/New Norcia) and Baladong (Northam/Yoting). Patrick has lived on Northam Reserve and has lived in Midland area for 41 years. Patrick has a son and daughter and six grandchildren.

Patrick is currently employed with Wungening Aboriginal Corporation as Manager of Wungening Alliance team (Intensive Family Support Program).

Craig Somerville

Craig Somerville is a Martu man from the Western Desert around Newman. Craig is the Deputy Chairperson of the State Parole Board. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Australia and has worked in government, private and community sectors. Craig has worked as a Lecturer at Curtin University, the Aboriginal Legal Services and the Aboriginal Health Council of WA.

Lawford Benning

Lawford Benning was born and raised in Kununurra. Lawford is a Miriwoong man and highly regarded member of the local community. He has held senior positions with a number of Aboriginal organisations, and currently serves as Executive Chair of Yawoorroong Miriuwung Gajerrong Yirrgeb Noong Dawang Aboriginal Corporation (MG Corporation).

Lawford is currently focused on generating economic development opportunities and employment outcomes for MG people through a framework of Indigenous empowerment. Lawford also promotes and drives social change in the areas of community safety and early childhood education through guiding State and Federal Governments on various boards.

Pamela Thorley

Ms Pamela Thorley JP (9318) is a Noongar-Wagyl Kaip woman from the South West of Western Australia.

Pamela holds a degree in Primary Teaching and has over 20 years’ experience working within government at a senior management level in Aboriginal Affairs. She has also held senior positions with Aboriginal Community Controlled organisations including the legal and alcohol and drug sectors.

Pamela has a range of experience as a Board Member including the National Museum of Australia. She is currently a Board Member for Reconciliation WA providing cultural advice and member of the Wadjemup Aboriginal Reference Group (WA), providing advice to the Rottnest Island Authority and government on the development of appropriate recognition of the island’s Aboriginal History. She is also a member of the Department of Communities Aboriginal Cultural Counsel Working Group providing advice to the Department on the development and implementation of services and programs to Aboriginal people throughout Western Australia.   

Pamela is also a member of the Judiciary and has been an active Justice of the Peace providing an important community service to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people throughout the State.

Pamela has been with Life Without Barriers as the Western Australian State Lead, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Initiatives since May 2017. In this short time, she has worked to ensure the development and delivery of culturally appropriate care, connection and reunification services and programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care, people with disabilities and aged care. She is also responsible for the implementation of the Life Without Barriers Stretch RAP 2016-2019 and Regional Reconciliation Action Plan Committees throughout Western Australia.

Maureen Kelly (MK)

Maureen Kelly (MK) OAM is an Yindjibarndi and Ngarluma Elder from Port Hedland Western Australia. She has lived in the Pilbara all of her life and has extensive kinship links in the Pilbara, Kimberly and across the State. In 2014 she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in recognition of her outstanding achievements and service to Indigenous communities across Western Australia. In addition to the OAM she has also been nominated and won numerous awards for her voluntary community service work, including the Town of Port Hedland Elder of the Year in 2011 and National Female Elder at the 2012 NAIDOC awards in Tasmania.

Maureen Kelly has over 35 years’ experience working across Western Australia in many levels of government including health, Aboriginal affairs and education and training and has devoted her professional and personal life to promoting equitable service delivery for all citizens in regional Western Australia. In addition to her career in the public sector she has been an active and well-respected community advocate for over decades. 

She has represented the Region and State at national and international forums, most recently the WIPCE conference in Peru. Since 1984 Maureen has been a JP and also holds a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree Aboriginal Community Management and Development as well as a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

In addition to her commitment with Western Australia, over the last 24 years Maureen and her family have been assisting three families in Bali to gain financial independence through improved education and establishment of successful businesses. In 2010 Maureen established her own business – Sing-Kenken Solutions. 

Julie Hayden

Julie Hayden is a Goreng woman from the Wagy Kaip Native Title region of WA.  Julie’s working career spans over a period of more than 30 years and includes Early Education, Aboriginal Family History, Native Title research, Human Resources, Employment and Training, Indigenous Enterprises and Cultural Heritage.

Julie spent much of her career in Perth and the Pilbara region and has now returned home to Noongar country to drive the agenda for change for services delivered to Noongar people. She is a key member of the inaugural Katanning Noongar Leadership Group, established in 2014 with assistance from Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Shire of Katanning to address the socio-economic disadvantage in the central Great Southern region. The group has a primary focus on building safer communities, service delivery and developing pathways to employment through increasing participation in local economic development projects.

Julie’s passion is to streamline service delivery to Noongar people and provide opportunities for youth in the region by working collaboratively with schools in Katanning to strengthen culture and other ACCO’s to develop on-country training and employment pathways through Noongar land-based enterprises.

Margaret Ramirez (Sissy)

Margaret Ramirez (Sissy) is an Aboriginal woman who is part of the Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi people in the Pilbara and part of the Nyul Nyul and Nyikina people in the Kimberley. Margaret has worked in many organisations in a wide range of roles such as Child Care Worker, Aboriginal Liaison Officer at Port Hedland Campus, aged care, Telethon Kids as a Community Researcher and Pilbara Aboriginal Voice. Margaret is also a foster carer for both CPFS and Mackillop and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from these fields.

Margaret is passionate about influencing policy and policy makers to make good change for our families in order to move forward so they no longer feel the burdens and impacts of the past. Margaret believes that change can happen through our children as the next generation, but also through our current Elders and senior family members who are and can be strong positive role models who demonstrate strong culture and good family practices supportive of strong future generations who are better equipped to make bigger change.

Margaret’s purpose for being on the Cultural Council is to ensure our people at the grassroots are being considered and to remind decision makers of what grassroots people need. Margaret is here to bring the voice of the Pilbara and Aboriginal people and to make sure their voices are being heard.

Raylene Cooper

Raylene Cooper is a proud Yamatji woman from the Mid-West Region who is passionate about her culture and country. Raylene has cultural connections to the Nyoongah and Gidja people and is married to a local Aboriginal man from Kalgoorlie-Boulder and has lived in the Goldfields region for approximately 44 years.

Within the Goldfields region, Raylene is recognised as a well-respected leader in her community having been part of various working parties to address issues that affect the local Aboriginal people of Kalgoorlie-Boulder (health, education, employment, social issues etc).

Raylene has worked extensively in government and non-government organisations in roles such as an experienced Coordinator, Senior Aboriginal Mental Health Worker, Aboriginal Practice Leader, Director, Manager, Supervisor, Facilitator and Counsellor and has seen first-hand the diverse issues that Aboriginal people face, and it is quite evident the relationship that social disadvantage plays in Aboriginal people’s well-being. 

Raylene’s strengths include the ability to mediate, negotiate and resolve conflicts that often occur between the interests of government and the wishes of clients so that we improve outcomes for vulnerable people in need. Raylene’s comprehensive and transparent approach assists her in providing positive solutions when working in partnership with stakeholders.

Raylene develops, delivers and provides advice on culturally appropriate and quality strategies and services through various working parties to identify local solutions, respond to the challenges associated with delivering programs that affect local Aboriginal issues and provide solutions to lead to better outcomes. Raylene maintains a collaborative approach to identify and prevent people from falling through the gaps and to create pathways for Aboriginal people to access better services for Aboriginal people.

Raylene currently works as a A/g Coordinator with WA Country Health Services, Community Mental Health Services, Goldfields and previously has worked with the Department of Child Protection.

When Raylene is not working she spends time with her family who keep her happy, grounded and focused on life. Raylene also coordinates and volunteer with community events such as NAIDOC Week, Annual Football Carnival, Annual Dart Carnival.

Raylene is very passionate about creating a better future for Aboriginal people in ensuring that their voices are heard and supported in an environment where they can grow to their full potential.

Dorinda Cox

Dorinda Cox is an Aboriginal (Noongar) woman from the South West region of WA with French and Irish heritage. Dorinda is a mother of two daughters, a skilled practitioner, trainer, advocate and mentor.

Dorinda has over 20 years experience working in government and non-government sectors at both the local, State and National levels. Her current role is the Managing Director of the Inspire Change Consulting Group and she delivers training, speeches and presentations to a wide range of stakeholders.

Dorinda’s current advocacy and advising roles include being a member of the Victims of Crime Advisory Group to the Attorney General WA, Member of the Advisory Committee on Child Death Reviews and Family Violence Homicides for the WA Ombudsman and the Practitioner Engagement Group member for the Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety.

Dorinda stood as a candidate for Greens WA political party in the 2017 State Election for the seat of Jandakot in Perth, WA and in March 2018 for the seat of Fremantle in the Federal by-election.

Dorinda’s international experience includes attending the United Nations Commission on Status of Women – Session 57 in New York, USA in 2013 and Session 63 in 2019. She has participated in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s Women and the Economy forum in Lima, Peru in July 2016 and the United Nation’s Economic and Social Committee for the Asia Pacific in November 2019, as a non for profit organisational representative on behalf of the Australian Government. Dorinda has also been a visiting guest to the University of Calgary for the Sites of Survivance forum on Indigenous Street Gangs. She is also as a member of the Expert Indigenous Women’s Working Group working on the Global Treaty on Preventing Violence Against Women in the Everywoman, Everywhere Campaign and is a mentor for the Womens in International Affairs Network.

Dorinda uses her big picture vision, innovative thinking and passionate leadership to create new methodologies to challenge, improve and strengthen our current service systems to achieve better evidence based outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities.

Michelle Andrews

Michelle Andrews was appointed Director General of Communities on 1 May 2019. Michelle previously led the Policy and Reform Division in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and was Secretary to the State Government’s independent Service Priority Review that delivered a wide-ranging blueprint for reform of the public sector. Previously, Michelle was a senior executive at the former Departments of Mines and Petroleum and State Development, in which she focused on major projects, resource development policy and strengthening relationships across government, industry and the community. Michelle is an environmental scientist with 30 years’ experience in the public sector and has also worked as a senior policy advisor for several State Government Ministers. She has served as Deputy Chair of the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia and on the boards of the Western Australian Biodiversity ​​Science Institute and th​e Institu​te of Public Administration Australia.

Jacqueline Littlejohn

Jacqueline Littlejohn, Executive Director - Priority Initiatives​, Strategy and Transformation, Department of Communities, is a Yamatji Malgana woman from Shark Bay in Western Australia. As a proud Aboriginal woman, Jacqueline has worked within, led and advocated for the WA Aboriginal community all her life. She implemented Laing O’Rourke’s Indigenous Development Strategy through establishing their Executive Diversity Council, holding the global role of “Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Indigenous Affairs”. Jacqueline established Aboriginal affairs consultancy Opportunities Without Borders, advising and supporting organisations on Aboriginal business and economic development, cultural planning and land management. Jacqueline has held numerous leadership positions in Aboriginal communities including having been a member of the Aborig​inal Lands Trust and the Western Australian Aboriginal Advisory Council.