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2021-12-06 16:46:16

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Advisory Council

Arron Bowman


Arron is a descendant of the Wakka Wakka Goreng Goreng people. Born and raised in Townsville, he has a background in community engagement, policy reform, Indigenous service-model development, project management and corporate governance. Arron also has a diverse range of professional experience within the criminal justice system.


Arron is the previous chairperson of Ripple Community Foundation and has strong links to Indigenous communities and community service providers in northern Queensland and the Townsville region. He has been involved with the implementation of numerous successful projects involving direct community consultation and as an advisor to government and non-government stakeholders for both implementation and review.

Arron has worked as a Police Liaison Officer, where he promoted trust and understanding through consulting with the community, advising and educating the police service on culture and cultural protocols, and improving community knowledge of the legal system.

He was also the support coordinator of Project Booyah Townsville, A Queensland Police Service initiative that utilised a multi-agency approach, designed to target identified at-risk young people and help them onto a positive path through education and therapy-based programs. 

Arron currently works as a Throughcare Officer with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service. He also worked collaboratively with Abt Associates on a national youth Throughcare model based on the recommendations within youth detention centres across the nation. Arron provided strategic operational program direction and advice, stakeholder mapping and risk assessment liaising with community, government and Abt as a conduit to initiate and develop cross-working relationships, and guided workshop discussion to align with community and program values and goals.


Jacob Cassidy


Jacob is a married man with six children and is passionate about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and particularly youth, having just opened a school for disadvantaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. He is currently the Managing Director of the Mungalla Aboriginal Business Corporation which is involved in tourism, conservation and training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


Jacob believes health is not limited to medical issues but needs a holistic approach. He has been involved with improving the social and economic well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for many years. He was recently involved in the push for a dialysis machine in Ingham for more than a year and raised money from his community towards it.

Jacob is a member of the Ingham Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee as well as the Board of the Herbert River Catchment Group.  He is also involved with the local Chamber of Commerce and is currently studying Indigenous Land and Sea Management at Deakin University in Geelong.

Jacob is looking forward to contributing to improving the quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and believes improving health is a big step in achieving that goal.


Fred Chong

ATSICAC Member – Ingham ATSI Community Advisory Network representative

Fred Chong is a descendant of the Walkaman Tribe in North Queensland. He is retired but maintains connections in the community through his voluntary work at the Ingham Health Service and through local NAIDOC celebrations.


Fred is passionate about the health and wellbeing of young people, crime prevention and educating youth about the dangers of misusing alcohol and drugs. Fred has been a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Advisory Network since its inception in 2012. Through this group, Fred has been a staunch advocate for renal dialysis which will commence in Ingham in 2022.

Fred believes that it is important to have services that are specific for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because it helps with understanding the importance of healthcare and treatment. It also makes our mob feel culturally safe and comfortable knowing that these services are here to assist them.

Fred has served with the Hinchinbrook Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Legal Service and on the Hinchinbrook NAIDOC Committee.

Fred is committed to continuing to represent the Ingham Indigenous community on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Advisory Network to bring local health matters to the Board table.


Velma Gara


Velma has called Townsville home for many years, following her parents’ move from the Torres Strait for employment in the early 1960s. She has been on committees such as the Townsville City Council’s Inclusive Advisory Committee and the St James Church Council.


She is currently employed as a Support Officer for boarding students who are from different parts of Northern Australia and works part-time as a secretary for the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Services.

Velma has extensive knowledge of working in media, here in Townsville as well as on Thursday Island and currently presents and produces a Torres Strait islander radio show with Triple T 103.9FM. She is also an avid basketballer and has been involved as a player and coach. Along with her committee work, both media and basketball have allowed her to engage with the community. 

Velma is excited to be involved with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Advisory Council to share her voice, provide feedback, and support the improvement of health of First Nations peoples.


Bernice Hookey


Bernice grew up in Mount Isa, now resides in Townsville, and is a Waanyi descendent from the Lower Gulf of Carpentaria who is passionate about strengthening and adding value in providing support where she can apply her ‘lived life experiences’ to initiate and successfully apply her planning, organisation, co-ordination, team leadership, cultural respect, creative and excellent communication skills.


Adept in providing leadership, mentoring, guidance, compassion and support in a personal and professional manner to build on a foundation towards sustainable growth.

Bernice has a strong interest in adding proficient practical results-driven value-add via a cultural component of diversity and has a range of practical capabilities including exercising self-determination with proprietary tools to build partner capacity. She is a respected, valued and reputable individual with career experience of 25 plus years as a skillful and dedicated, executive, administrator (senior and junior) and personal assistant, consultancy and business owner in the mining, private businesses and not-for-profit sectors.

She holds qualifications in business, suicide prevention, governance and leadership and reiterating on the extensive experience in the coordination, planning, and support of daily administrative functions on state and national levels as a driver of change. Bernice understands the complexities of living and residing on an outstation in remote locations (Doomadgee), the challenges involved in remoteness (Century Mine), people, and stakeholders involved as a fly-in fly-out commuter and the pressure of testing the limits of her capacity when facing complex situations.

She is a member of the Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association 2020 and actively participates and attends community engagement events in Townsville and surrounding regions relating to a broad community sector for the consumer’s needs. National Leadership Finalist two years consecutively in the category for Changemaker and Inspirational leader.


Randall Ross


Randal is of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander descent from Townsville and surrounding districts. He is of Bindal, Juru and Ompila Aboriginal ties and a descendant of Erub and his Australian South Sea connection hails from Tanna, Santo and Ambrym Island.


Randal currently works with North and West Remote Health as the Manager for Cultural and Community Relations covering more than 40 communities through Townsville, Gulf and Central Queensland as far as Longreach and Birdsville.

The Townsville Hospital and Health Service is a main hub for many of the communities that he covers in remote and rural communities, and he feels it is important to ensure that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are receiving appropriate health services when arriving in Townsville. Randal believes it is important to ensure that the Townsville hospital and healthcare services are culturally appropriate and culturally sensitive to the needs of all our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and peoples.

Randal has served on numerous boards including the Jezzine Barracks Trust Fund which was a Prime Ministerial- appointed committee and has served on the Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Media, TAIHS, Garbutt Magpies and Garbutt Bombers Sporting and Cultural Association.

Randal is also the co-founder and senior facilitator of a nationally recognised therapeutic family healing program, Red Dust Healing, which has been operating for over fifteen years nationally and internationally.

He has worked on several Reconciliation Action Plans (RAP) for several organisations including the NWRH Innovate RAP, Ronald McDonald House Innovate RAP and Ausco Modular Homes Innovate RAP.

Randal is committed to ensure many of our Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian South Sea Islanders peoples have services available to access in this ever-changing society. He aims to ensure the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Advisory Council maintains good governance to serve our communities in North Queensland.


Dorothy Smith


Dorothy is a Traditional Owner from this region who is a descendant of the Bindal people and also has connections to the Mer people of Murray Island and the Bwgcolman people from Palm Island. She has spent the majority of her life in Townsville with a successful track record in engaging communities, implementing programs and achieving meaningful, sustainable, and realistic results.


She has the relationships, knowledge and professional capability to liaise between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and health professionals. Dorothy brings a strong connection to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities at a personal and professional level.

Having a special needs child has provided Dorothy with valuable insight and practical experience into how the hospital system operates. Spending the majority of her son’s life in a hospital setting, she assisted other parents with support, awareness, and education in understanding what services they could access within a hospital or allied health setting. This included a referral to external medical services and Closing the Gap initiatives.

Previously, Dorothy was employed by the Townsville Hospital and Health Service as one of the first Indigenous Liaison Officers in the then Townsville Hospital emergency department. Within this role, she established knowledge of the hospital and its policies and procedures. This allowed her to better assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families on how to navigate the hospital system. Dorothy also completed her certificate III in Laboratory Assistant in The Townsville Hospital. 

Currently, Dorothy is a Coordinator for the Palm Island Community Company Women's Healing Service. The program delivers a Trauma-informed cultural healing program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Townsville Women's Correctional Centre. Dorothy is also a current Director of TAIHS, Vice-Chair of the First Nations Reference Group for the Townsville Police Service.

Dorothy is a part-time university student at James Cook University studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science. Dorothy's goal is to assist with generational change for her people and contribute to the cultural strengths and the ongoing resilience of the longest surviving culture in the world, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural.