Interviewee biographies - Returning Our Ancestors

Who are the people interviewed for Returning our Ancestors?

Jo Bell

Jo Bell in Returning our Ancestors

Jo Bell has a BA (Hons) in Archaeology and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. Jo is qualified in Indigenous Australian prehistory and non-Indigenous historic archaeology. She has more than 15 years professional experience in heritage management, including development and research projects. Fields of research include Australian Indigenous archaeology, Australian historic archaeology, stone artefact analysis, cultural heritage management and heritage training.

Uncle Jim Berg

Uncle Jim Berg in Returning our Ancestors

Uncle Jim Berg is a Gunditjmara Elder. Jim was the founder of the Koorie Heritage Trust Inc and was involved in the establishment of the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service. He was a leading figure in a legal battle that resulted in Aboriginal human remains held by the University of Melbourne and the Museum of Victoria being returned to Country and reburied. Jim is co-author of The Power and the Passion: Our Ancestors Return Home and has been a Justice of the Peace for nearly 50 years. Jim was the inaugural Chair of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council and served as a Council member for 12 years.

Nicole Cassar

Nicole Cassar in Returning our Ancestors

Nicole Cassar is a Gunditjmara, Wudjubaluk and Maltese woman from Victoria and has worked in Aboriginal Affairs for over 20 years. Nicole is the Director for Sustainability at the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation whose professional experience has been developed through her involvement with Mental Health, Out-of-home care sector, Stolen Generations, in health, in policy, family violence and with youth. Nicole was responsible for developing the cultural safety training products, which target those people that work with Aboriginal people in the Victorian communities, more so within the health industry.

Sean Fagan

Sean Fagan in Returning our Ancestors

Sean Fagan is a Wadawurrung man from south west Victoria who has worked for decades to repatriate Ancestors and strengthen his community. He is a proud Aboriginal leader and member of the First peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, elected and appointed by his community.

Dr Patrick Greene

Dr Patrick Greene in Returning our Ancestors

Dr Patrick Greene is the CEO and Museum Director of EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin, Ireland. Previous to this, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Museums Victoria from 2002-2017. He is Chair of the National Cultural Heritage Committee, Chair of the Advisory Board of the Atlas of Living Australia and Chair of Advisory Board of the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation of the University of Melbourne. He is also the former Chair of the Council of Australasian Museum Directors, Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration, Australia and Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Arts, Deakin University. Patrick was President of the Museums Association (UK), Chairman of the European Museum Forum, Chair of the UK Expert Panel of the Heritage Lottery Fund: Museums, Archives and Libraries and member of the English Heritage Industrial Archaeology Panel. He is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, of the Museums Association and of the Tourism Society.

Damien Jackson

Damien Jackson in Returning our Ancestors

Damien Jackson is the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Protection Project Officer at Parks Victoria, with a long, practical experience with the Murray River Burials. He works actively to respectfully return Ancestors and keep them safe on Country, through protecting and remediating their burial places.

Tim Kanoa

Tim Kanoa in Returning our Ancestors

Tim Kanoa is Kerrupmara Clan of the Gunditjmara (South West Victoria) and Bunitj Iwaidja (West Arnhem Land). Connection to community and culture is vital for Tim. Tim was appointed as an Executive Director in First Peoples - State Relations, Traditional Owner Relationships and Heritage (formerly Aboriginal Victoria) in May 2019. Prior to this, Tim’s most recent position was as Director of the Aboriginal Inclusion Support Branch in the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. Before joining the VPS, Tim worked as the State-wide Coordinator for the Koorie Youth Council, The Foundation for Young Australians as an initiative manager, and with the Koorie Heritage Trust and Windamara Aboriginal Corporation as a project officer.

In the Victorian Public Service, Tim has worked in Corrections Victoria as the Manager of Aboriginal Programs and as Executive Officer to the Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee. In addition, Tim has been on a range of boards and advisory committees supporting the Victorian Aboriginal community, including the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owner Aboriginal Corporation, the Torch and the Koori Heritage Trust.

Danny Moon

Danny Moon in Returning our Ancestors

Danny Moon has over 25 years in the construction industry with project management and construction hands on experience. Danny has overseen and worked on many large projects including water and infrastructure projects such as the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline (268mill), NVIRP (1 bill), Lake Cargelligo Fish Ladder (4.2mill) Pooncarie Weir & Fish Ladder, Murray Darling Basin Authority’s (30mill) award winning Hattah Lakes The Living Murray Project and just recently on G-MW’s $2 billion dollar Connections Project as Construction Manager/Superintendent.

Darren Perry

Darren Perry in Returning our Ancestors

Darren Perry is a Ngintait man, who has contributed significantly to his Aboriginal community in north west Victoria through advocacy for Aboriginal water rights in the Murray-Darling Basin and the registration of the Aboriginal party First People of the Millewa Mallee. Through his efforts over many years, in concert with other Traditional Owners associated with the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations Group, Darren has offered strong leadership and been essential to the success of recognising Aboriginal rights to Country in Victoria.

Sissy Pettit

Sissy Pettit Havea in Returning our Ancestors

Sissy Pettit resides in Robinvale and has traditional ties to the waters of the Murray, Lachlan and Murrumbidgee rivers and flood plains. For more than two decades, Sissy has worked for and with Aboriginal people in various areas including health, education and cultural heritage protection. Sissy is committed to leading and supporting community 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. She is currently undertaking this work as Manager of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council's Ancestral Remains Unit.

Annabelle Sharman

Annabelle Sharman in Returning our Ancestors

Annabelle Sharman is a Proud Mutti Mutti Woman, living Self, Spirit & Mother Earth. Annabelle Honours her Ancestral Cultural Heritage, Knowledge and Wisdom. She endlessly Nurtures her guiding Beliefs and Naturally attuned connection to Earth Medicine. Annabelle is a Reiki Master & Teacher, Certified Holistic Counsellor, Social Worker with an extensive career in Mental Health, trauma and recovery. She is a passionate Humanitarian with a Dreaming to Heal Australia and is the founder and owner of A Sharman HOPE Healing.

Uncle Colin Walker

Uncle Colin Walker in Returning our Ancestors

Uncle Colin Walker is a Yorta Yorta Elder and respected member of the broad Victorian Aboriginal community. Colin was born on Cummeragunja Mission in 1935, delivered in a tin hut on a dirt floor by his grandmother Florence Walker, who was the Missions midwife. Uncle Colin says that “the hands that brought me into this world would be the same to teach me about our culture and make me the strong Yorta Yorta man I am today.”

Annette Xiberras

Annette Xiberras in Returning our Ancestors

Annette Xiberras is a Wurundjeri Elder with unique connections with both government and Aboriginal communities. She has been working in the field of Aboriginal cultural heritage for more than 25 years when she was part of the first group of cultural heritage officers employed by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria in 1988. Annette has held the Victorian Aboriginal community-elected chair of the Victorian Traditional Owners Land Justice Group for the past 6 years. Her long career in cultural heritage has seen her gain numerous formal qualifications in Cultural Heritage Management, and has allowed her to work with some of Australia's leading archaeological experts.