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.

Aunty Bernice Hookey

Lead Yanalangami Facilitator

Bernice is proud Waanyi woman, mum and Changemaker. She is an accomplished speaker, author, mentor and leader. A previous Tranby Alumna, Bernice learned new business skills and enhanced her confidence as a leader by learning alongside other Aboriginal students from around the country.

After completing her studies, she embarked on a journey of leadership and founded MZB Empowerment to improve the quality of life for Mob. She is a voice for the voiceless. In her work as our Lead Yanalangami Facilitator Bernice seeks to strengthen the empowerment of individuals through unique program delivery in a culturally safe environment. Bernice is committed to walking with other women along their leadership journeys and supporting them to thrive.

Our NSW AAC for 2022

Aunty Beryl Van Oploo

“When you have an education, you have a voice
and you have a choice”

Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo is a proud Gamilaroi woman and the definition of Changemaker.
A long-time supporter of Tranby and an education advocate herself – there isn’t much Aunty Beryl hasn’t achieved in her life! She has shared Indigenous foods overseas and run her own catering company in Australia…

She is an educator, a respected Elder and has been a support to so many young people over the years. In everything she does, Aunty Beryl has always worked to support and empower community, sharing love through food.

To read more about Aunty’s work, click here.


Ashlee Donohue

“For me the importance of Aboriginal women in leadership is to continue carrying the legacy, strength and cultural values of the women who came before us.
It’s extremely important to me to continue to light the path for Aboriginal women. Whilst we work to clear generational trauma we cannot forget our generational strength as the oldest living culture in the world, anything less is a disservice to our matriarchs who gave us more than just wounds.”

Ashlee Donohue a proud Aboriginal woman from the Dunghutti nation, born and raised in Kempsey, NSW. An Author, Educator and Advocate for topics specifically surrounding anti-violence, anti- racism and Aboriginal women, Ashlee Donohue has created a platform to share lived experiences, as well as a safe place for many Aboriginal women. As CEO of Mudgin-Gal Aboriginal Corporation-Women’s Centre, Author of ‘Because I Love Him’ and owner of Miss Ashlee Enterprise, Ashlee has become an inspiration and support network for many women.

A highly sought-after facilitator, speaker and powerful advocate Ashlee has presented at the UN Status of Women Forums in NYC, been the lead writer and co-creator for numerous anti-violence campaigns and anti-racism education. A published author, her memoir ‘Because I love him’ a personal account of love, motherhood, domestic violence and survival.

Ashlee sits on the City of Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory panel, Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre and Community Centre Limited (CRC) Board of Directors.

Shannon Oates

“Representation Matters. There is a place for every Aboriginal woman to be empowered and have their place at the table. Leading their communities to success and being that role model to inspire others that hard work and commitment to what you believe in can aspire to dreams being fulfilled.”

Shannon Oates is a proud Barkindji woman from Broken Hill in the Far West of NSW. Barkindji means people of the river.

Her grandmother, Isobel Bennett, was a part of the Stolen Generation and a much respected Elder. There was a stage production called ‘Weeping Cloud’ which tells the story of Barkindji Elder, Isobel Bennett, who was taken from her family as a 12 year old in 1945. Shannon is very proud of her grandmother and her ancestry.

Shannon is many things – an identical twin, a proud mother and a tireless community advocate for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander survivors of sexual assault and domestic and family violence.

For the last 13 years Shannon has devoted her time to work in Aboriginal Community Services. She is the current Manager of an Aboriginal Prevention Legal Violence Protection Unit called, Warra Warra (which means ‘standing together, side by side’). It is a free legal service that provides legal advice, representation and assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors of Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault in the Far West of NSW.
Prior to Warra Warra Shannon became a qualified Aboriginal Health Practitioner and was part of the first cohort of Aboriginal students to complete the Cert IV Certificate in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health – Practice with 100% completion and was nominated for a Deadly Award. Shannon also received an award for most outstanding student.

As a mother, Shannon leads with resilience, love and pride for her 15 year old daughter Ava Faith. For Shannon, her greatest achievement in life is her daughter whom is a leader in her own right. She became the first Aboriginal girl to be voted School Captain of her Primary School and was selected to play for the Australian Under 14’s girls team for Basketball in New Zealand where her team won gold. Ava is a keen athlete who loves playing Basketball and AFL Football and was recently voted 1st Best and Fairest for her Girls Youth AFL Football team. Ava currently trains with the GWS AFL Academy in Broken Hill and has reached Phase 2 of selection so far.

Debbie Higgison

“You have to know where you came from to know where you’re going. It’s a journey of many paths where you don’t always find all the pieces on that journey. By following many footsteps you learn and grow everyday from those that were there before you. Be the foot prints that others would be proud to follow.”

Debbie Higgison is a proud Wangal woman of the Darug Nation who lives and serves the Western Sydney Aboriginal Community.

Debbie spends her days working to support Elders and takes her cultural responsibility of learning from and listening to supporting Elders seriously. As an education advocate for our mob, she works as Project Manager of the Solid Ground Artist in Residence program. A Carriageworks and Blacktown Arts Initiative, which provides unique opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait ​Islander young people to access programs and Arts pathways being mentored by First Nations Artist that help them express themselves connecting to culture and find healing.