New South Wales Government Family & Community Services - Aboriginal Housing Office

Our Board

The Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) Board advises the Minister for the Department of Family & Community Services (FACS) on policies and strategic direction and has defined responsibilities.

The AHO Board currently comprises nine members, including the Chairperson and the AHO Chief Executive (CE) who is an ex-officio member. The Board's primary role is to determine AHO policies – that the Minister ultimately approves – which enable the AHO, as part of FACS, to implement and deliver accessible, affordable and quality housing strategies that meet the social and cultural requirements of Aboriginal people in NSW.

Leah Armstrong









Name:                  Leah Armstrong

Position:              Chairperson of AHO Board

About Chairperson Armstrong:

Leah Armstrong, a Torres Strait Islander, has over 20 years business and not-for-profit senior professional experience.  Leah has a strong demonstrated track record in achieving organisational results, creation and maintenance of strong networks and stakeholder relationships by working collaboratively with governments, community and the private sector.

Leah holds several Board positions including Chairperson of Supply Nation and is Chair of The Smith Family Indigenous Advisory Group.  Leah held previous Board positions with Career Trackers, Indigenous Business Australia and Chair of the Indigenous Business Policy Advisory Group.

Bev Manton Converted



Name:                  Beverley Manton

Position:              Board Member

About Member Manton:  

Beverley Manton is a former NSW Aboriginal Land Council Chairperson and Councillor for the Mid-North Coast and has previously been a member of numerous governmental and Aboriginal advisory boards. Beverly was a finalist for NSW Woman of the Year in 2007.


Anthony Ashby Converted

Name:                  Anthony Ashby

Position:              Board Member

About Member Ashby:

Anthony Ashby has over 20 years chartered accounting and auditing experience and established his own Chartered Accounting business in 2004.   His current directorships include Deputy Chair Indigenous Business Australia, Director Indigenous Land Corporation and the Director National Centre of Indigenous Excellence Ltd.


Anthony Ashby



Name:                  Damien Bidjara-Barnes

Position:              Board Member

About Member Bidjara-Barnes

Damien Bidjara-Barnes has over 18 years legal experience in asset planning, property, construction, maintenance and management across the rail, resources and infrastructure sectors. Damien also has five years civil engineering experience with the former NSW Department of Commerce and Bankstown City Council where he was responsible for surveying, design, planning approvals and construction.

Neva Collings Converted







Name:                  Neva Collings

Position:              Board Member

About Member Collings:

Neva Collings  is an Aboriginal lawyer, specialising in environmental and commercial law. Neva is principal solicitor of Orange Door Legal in NSW and was admitted to practice in 2008 as a solicitor with the Environmental Defenders Office.  For two years, she was based in Geneva and lobbied the United Nations and advocated on behalf of Aboriginal people on a range of issues, including housing, justice and racial discrimination. Neva is currently a member of the NSW Housing Appeals Committee and has a unique insight into Aboriginal housing both personally and professionally.


Mayrah Sonter Converted





Name:                  Mayrah Sonter

Position:              Board Member

About Member Mayrah:

Mayrah Sonter has a strong background in education, arts and communication and has utilised her skills and experience to establish her own media, communications and events company, 33 Creative. Mayrah is passionate about Aboriginal affairs and assisting Aboriginal people and communities and has previously worked on events across Australia with a focus on Aboriginal arts, culture and health.


Craig Taylor Converted







Name:                  Craig Taylor

Position:              Board Member

About Member Taylor:

Craig Taylor is a strong advocate for Aboriginal social justice and community development and believes in developing holistic approaches to address the issues affecting Aboriginal people. Over the past 20 years, working in government and community organisations, he has developed knowledge and experience in the areas of health, education, justice, housing, social welfare and corrections – all of which have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people and communities.


Suzanne Ingram board member







Name:                  Suzanne Ingram

Position:              Board Member

About Member Ingram:

Suzanne Ingram is a woman of the Wiradjuri nation and is Honorary Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health. As a researcher, Suzanne's focus is health communication and builds on an extensive background in communications practice and Aboriginal heritage research. She is interested in how health research data is returned to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Her experience brings to the AHO perspectives on the link between health and housing. Suzanne currently serves on the Board of the Black Theatre Company and Mudgin-gal Aboriginal Corporation, conducts advocacy for the Redfern Aboriginal Women’s Alliance (RAWA) and is a member of the Lowitja Institute Research Program Committee for Community Capability and the Social Determinants of Health.

The Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) is subject to the control and direction of the Minister. In setting our strategic policy and direction, the AHO is assisted by an all-Aboriginal Board that advises the Minister on Aboriginal housing issues in NSW.

The Board's objectives are to:

  • Provide advice to governments about adequate housing
  • Advocate housing related matters on behalf of the Aboriginal community of NSW
  • Provide strategic direction for sustainable quality housing for Aboriginal people in NSW
  • Develop strategic alliances with key stakeholders, in particular, the Aboriginal community, government and non-government agencies
  • Review the AHO's performance against strategic plans and directions
  • Develop and uphold a culturally appropriate, professional and mutually respectful working relationship between the Board, the Executive and staff of the AHO
  • Develop and uphold a professional and mutually respectful AHO governance model embracing the role and responsibilities of Regional Aboriginal Housing Committees (RAHC).
QuoteThe Board is comprised of highly respected and passionate Aboriginal people whose focus is on delivering sustainable and tailored housing options for Aboriginal people and communities across NSW.Quote-end