2017 - Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children safe in culture

Date: 31 May 2017

Theme: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children safe in culture.

Facilitator: Ms Zoe Rathus AM from the Griffith University School of Law


 Ms Zoe Rathus AM

Ms Zoe Rathus AM is a senior lecturer in law and Director of the Clinical Education Program at Griffith University Law School.  She teaches family law and ethics and professional responsibility as well as clinical courses.  Her research focuses on the family law system with an emphasis on family violence, women and children. She has published in a range of high quality journals and spoken at national and international conferences.  Zoe worked in private practice from 1981 until becoming coordinator of the Women’s Legal Service in 1989.  She worked there until 2004, engaging in extensive law reform activities for women.  She worked in South Africa on gender issues between 1995 and 1998 and has served on a number of Boards and committees.  She is currently a member of the Advisory Council of the Queensland Families and Children’s Commission. Zoe was awarded an Order of Australia in 2011 for her services to women, the law, Indigenous peoples and education.


Dr Gerald Featherstone

Dr Gerald Featherstone is a Bundjalung man and proud father of one. He has worked for Kummara as a Social Worker in many roles since moving from Queensland Health to the NGO sector in 2003 and was then asked to take over as CEO in 2009 following     the loss of his mother and then CEO Sue Featherstone. Since that time he has been involved in the development of Kummara Association Inc and their services whilst simultaneously carrying out research on Aboriginal parenting.

Dr Gerald Featherstone's presentation is titled What makes for well-functioning Aboriginal families in Brisbane.

Dr Gerald Featherstone's PowerPoint presentation (PPTX, 184KB)

Dr Gerald Featherstone's presentation (PDF, 178KB)

Transcript - Dr Gerald Featherstone presentation (DOCX, 26KB).

Professor Roianne West

Roianne is a descendant of the Kalkadoon people from North-West Queensland and has over 20 years of experience in Indigenous health where she commenced as a health worker in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service. Now a university trained Registered Nurse with a Masters in Mental Health Nursing and a PhD. Roianne’s experiences in education have led her to recognise the importance of utilising the strength of systems in improving the circumstances facing Indigenous people and how designing and delivering services responding to the needs of Indigenous communities, requires the input of Indigenous communities.  Roianne uses her knowledge and expertise to advocate on behalf of communities and provides leadership and advocacy to address difficult issues with a view to long-term, sustainable and realistic outcomes.  Roianne draws from her personal experiences along with an extensive background in the health and education sector to support this process, influence policy and deliver outcomes.

Professor Roianne West's presentation is titled Rising to the greatest challenge of our time - Culturally safe places where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and their families thrive in supportive communities.

Professor Roianne West's PowerPoint presentation (PPTX, 17.6MB)

Professor Roianne West's presentation (PDF, 527KB)

Transcript - Professor Roianne West presentaiton (DOCX, 25KB).

Ms Lisa Hillan and Mr Frank Cook

Lisa Hillan is a Social Worker with over 20 years' experience working with vulnerable communities in program design and delivery. She has been Chair of the Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia; Chair of the Child Protection Committee in Queensland. In 2006 Lisa completed a Churchill fellowship to study effective models of residential care.

For over 10 years, Lisa worked in Queensland and the Northern Territory in partnership with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to build their children and families sector. Since 2010 Lisa has been director of Programs and Knowledge Creation at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation. Lisa is responsible for supporting the development of healing and training initiatives including research and evaluation, to ensure culturally strong program design and positive outcomes for the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.


Mr Frank Cook is an Erubian man from Darnley (ERUB) Island in the Eastern Part of Torres Strait, who hold a Bachelor of Applied Health Science, specialising in Indigenous Primary Health Care, from the University of Queensland. Frank is a Primary Health Care Practitioner/Coordinator with 35 years' experience working with communities in delivering community education and development throughout the regions of Torres Strait, Northern Peninsula Area, and the Nation of Kaurareg.

For over 10 years Frank worked in the area of disability with the Queensland government, and has built strong relationships with other service providers in the region in delivering number of different services to the 24 indigenous communities of the Cape York/Kaurareg and Torres Strait regions. Since 2013 Frank has been a project officer, responsible for the Torres Strait and Kaurareg regions, at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation.

Frank is responsible for leading and developing the healing work in the Torres Strait that has included coordinating the Healing Gathering (Iling Siduan) and the development of the Torres Strait and Kaurareg Aboriginal Peoples Healing Strategy. Frank continues to support the implementation of these strategies including acting as a local advisor to the Men’s group [Ker Kar Bau] meaning New wave in the region.

Ms Hillan and Mr Cook will be co-presenting on Healing in the Torres Strait - Building Strong Communities for Our Children or in language, Strong Communities, Strong Children - Kelar Ged Kelar Omaskerem.

Ms Lisa Hillan and Mr Frank Cook PowerPoint presentation (PPTX, 9.5MB)

Ms Lisa Hillan and Mr Frank Cook presentation (PDF, 2.9MB)

Transcript - Ms Lisa Hillan and Mr Frank Cook presentation (DOCX, 24KB).

Photos from Research in the Round