Council is represented by a maximum of 11 Traditional Owners. They're appointed by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. All members live in Victoria and are knowledgeable in Aboriginal cultural heritage.
Rodney Carter, Council Chairperson
Rodney Carter is a descendant of Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta people and resides at Bendigo in Central Victoria. He currently works for his people, the Dja Dja Wurrung as the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and the Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises Pty Ltd.
A defining moment for Rodney was negotiating the Dja Dja Wurrung people's native title settlement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010.
Rodney applied for a position on Council because he strongly believes that Victorian Aboriginal people are those best placed to manage their own history, places and materials for the benefit of all Victorians.
Rodney was previous Chairperson of the Council over 2012, 2013 and 2014 and his current 3-year appointment as a Council member will end on 1 September 2021.
Sissy Pettit Havea, Council Deputy Chairperson
Sissy resides in Robinvale and has traditional ties to the waters of the Murray, Lachlan and Murrumbidgee rivers and floodplains. Sissy is a Wemba Wemba descendant and claims waters and lands on both sides of the banks.
For more than two decades, she's worked with Aboriginal people in various areas including health, education and cultural heritage protection.
For over 20 years, Sissy has lead and supported communities to achieve its aspirations and values creating real and respectful partnerships as part of this.
Sissy is also very passionate about ensuring Old People are returned to Country and follows the legacy of her late father to protect ancestors.
Sissy's 3-year appointment as a Council member will end on 6 November 2019.
Geraldine Atkinson, Council Member
Geraldine is a Bangerang/Wiradjuri woman. She works to expand education opportunities for Koorie people.
Geraldine has been active in her community for 30 years. She began as a teacher’s aide in 1976. She's been the President of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated since 1999.
Geraldine's made a significant impact in early childhood development. She's always regarded education as being the best instrument of progress.
Geraldine has worked with the following government committees:
- Premier’s Advisory Council Childcare 2003–2004
- National Childcare Accreditation Council 2005–2011
- National Children’s Services Forum and Early Childhood Australia
- Reconciliation Committee
Geraldine currently represents the:
- National Indigenous Education Consultative Body
- Deputy Chair of the Secretariat National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care
- Chair of Lulla’s Children and Family Centre in Shepparton.
Geraldine’s 3-year term on the Council ends on 6 November 2019.
Jennifer Beer, Council Member
Jennifer is a proud and strong Wudyubaluk woman from the Wimmera/Mallee region. She's a descendant of Yanggendyinanyuk (Dick-a-Dick).
Jennifer has 30 years of Koori education experience. She also holds a Diploma in Vocational Education and Training.
From 2005 to 2006, Jennifer led the first successful Native Title Claim in Victoria.
With the support of the Victorian School of Languages, Jennifer has revived and reclaimed her language, Wergaia.
The Wotjobulak people completed the VCE Revival and Reclamation education resource. This meant changes to the curriculum in all Victorian secondary schools which introduced the teaching of Indigenous languages.
Jennifer is passionate about her culture and language. She's also passionate about rights for all to live, breathe and practice their culture.
Jenny’s 3-year appointment as a Council Member will end on 13 August 2020.
Racquel Buis-Kerr, Council Member
Racquel Buis-Kerr is a 26-year-old Dja Dja Wurrung woman, residing in Bendigo and is a descendant of ancestor Leonard Kerr.
For the past eight years, Racquel has worked in Aboriginal Cultural Heritage for Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, focusing on the protection and management of tangible and intangible cultural heritage. She was one of the first appointed Aboriginal Heritage Officers under the amended Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 in 2017, placing legislative enforcement and compliance back with Traditional Owners.
Racquel is experienced in Dja Dja Wurrung ceremony and dance and is a talented artist. Since 2016, Racquel has been a Director of Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-Operative which has enabled her to engage with the wider Aboriginal Community and focus her efforts on youth engagement.
Racquel has completed qualifications in Graphic Design, Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management, Government Investigations and is currently undertaking a double degree in Law and Art.
Racquel's 3-year term on the Council ends on 1 September, 2021.
Bonnie Chew, Council Member
Bonnie is a proud Wadawurrung (Wathaurung) woman with many years’ experience in Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and Education.
Bonnie regularly gives lectures promoting cultural heritage management and has sound knowledge of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006. In April 2012, she had the opportunity to be a representative for Ballarat at the World Historical Cities Conference in Vietnam, where she was able to share her knowledge and network with people of many other nations on a range of heritage issues.
Recently, Bonnie held the role of Cultural Heritage Coordinator for a Registered Aboriginal Party (Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation). In that role, Bonnie worked closely with the community, archaeologists, developers, anthropologists, ecologists and government authorities, on approximately 126 projects to achieve the best outcomes regarding the preservation of cultural heritage on her traditional Country.
Kenny Stewart, Council Member
Kenny Stewart is a Wamba Wamba descendent with strong family ties to the Lake Boga area. Kenny is a fourth-generation descendant of this area, and still has family there and spends a lot of time in this region and is committed to maintaining strong connections to that place.
In Kenny's words "I am and have been fortunate to have played a vital role in supporting Elders both past and present. I have been able to travel with and spend time with Elders, and this allowed me to gain greater knowledge and respect. They shared their knowledge with me and gave me a greater insight into Aboriginal issues involving both Native Title and cultural heritage. In recognition of the fact that a number of key Aboriginal Elders trusted me with their knowledge and passion, I feel that now is the time to give something meaningful back to the community, to benefit the future of the Aboriginal people."
In his professional life, Kenny has further extended his relationship with Aboriginal people across north-west Victoria and has continued to build good working relationships through these communities. Recently, this has extended into the Riverland of South Australia, where he has formed and fostered new relationships. Other current professional service roles are:
- Current Board member of First Nation Legal and Research Services (Deputy Chair)
- Wiran Aboriginal Corporation (Chairperson)
Reviewed 21 January 2020