Aboriginal Advisory Council

Creating sustainable community-led solutions needs many voices, ideas and experiences to be considered and shared.
To ensure our program is culturally appropriate, relevant and is community-driven we have asked some Indigenous community Changemakers from around Australia to assist us in the development, delivery and promotion of this program.

Our AAC for 2021

Aunty Cleonie Quayle

Cleonie Quayle is a Maljangapa woman of the Barkindji nation. Based in Sydney, Cleonie is a passionate advocate working in the area of Indigenous peoples and the law.

Award winning social justice advocate: Cleonie
In 2002 she was the recipient of the prestigious Aboriginal Justice award from the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, in recognition of her outstanding advocacy on behalf of Aboriginal women and the community. She was also awarded the Mudgin-Gal Award for her work in the area of family violence and access to justice for Indigenous people escaping violence.

Her specialities include the Stolen Generations, Indigenous women, social justice for Indigenous peoples, Aboriginal people and mental health issues, family violence, and the impact of the criminal justice system on Indigenous people

Cleonie has worked with Cultural Indigenous Research Centre Australia on several large projects, include the smoking cessation projects conducted for Cancer Institute NSW and the evaluation of the NSW Aboriginal Child and Family Centres. She has lectured at a number of universities and TAFE colleges, authored numerous publications and been a guest speaker at conferences and seminars

She is also an entrepreneur and started her business because of her passion for connecting the environment, landscape, healing circles and nature. Through her craftsmanship, her ambition is to communicate that while Australian Aboriginal art and culture is one of the oldest traditions in the world, it also capable of evolving and moving forward.

Cleonie Quayle is an artist and self-employed jewellery maker. She specialises in collecting, crafting and designing Australian Aboriginal fabric, gumnut and quongdong jewellery. Her work continues the ancient Aboriginal traditional of using natural materials and fibres to craft jewellery and accessories. It holds a contemporary twist, with Cleonie’s unique touch and the incorporation of gemstones and beads. Her work sells at a range of Indigenous and social justice events, and is available in shop fronts, markets and community events across NSW.

Leila Smith

Leila is the CEO of the Aurora Education Foundation and has experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and education sectors, in policy development, organisational growth, and program delivery in the not-for-profit sector, private sector, federal government, and academia.
Leila is a Wiradjuri woman whose family is from central New South Wales. Raised in Canberra, Leila holds a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Cambridge and a Bachelor’s degree with first class honours in Sociology from the Australian National University.
Prior to Aurora, Leila was the Knowledge Translation Manager at the Lowitja Institute, and a Senior Management Consultant at Nous Group. She also led the Policy and Programs team at the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, and worked in data analysis and research roles at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Australian Social Science Data Archive, and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

Medika Thorpe

Medika Thorpe is a proud Gunnai, Gunditjmara and Gooreng Gooreng woman born on the Kulin Nations and raised on Gadigal and Darug country.
Medika is currently working as the Event Production Manager at 33 Creative, a First Nations media, communications and events company based in Sydney. She recently worked on events such as the National NAIDOC Ball, NAIDOC in the City and many other community events and projects nationwide.

Medika comes from a performing arts background and has been associated with Bangarra Dance Theatre, Vibe Australia and NITV working in front and behind the camera.

In 2016, Medika helped establish the Winda Film Festival as the Co-Festival Director celebrating Indigenous films from Australia and around the world. Her time living in Canada working as the Guest Services Manager with the world’s largest Indigenous film festival, ImagineNATIVE in Toronto helped her develop connections and build rapport in the Indigenous film industry worldwide.

Medika also worked with NITV, ABC and with independent businesses on various film and tv projects in a producer/productions role. In 2020, Medika worked as a producer on tv program ‘Going Places with Ernie Dingo’.

Medika currently sits on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel for the City of Sydney.

Katriina Heikkanen

Katriina Heikkanen is a proud Worimi woman from Forster on the mid-north coast of NSW. She has Finnish heritage on her fathers side and grew up on Darug land in Sydney. Katriina has been working across Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander programs, policy and community development for over 20 years.

Currently employed as the Indigenous & Social Policy Manager within the AFL, she works across several portfolios including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders issues, Gender Diversity and racism. Prior to that she was a Senior Manager in the Commonwealth Government overseeing Indigenous Employment and Economic Development.

Katriina is a Director on the Tranby Board and also Co-Chairs the Community Resource Board which runs social enterprises that deliver community services.