Our board

The Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) Board advises the Minister for Planning, and Minister for Homes 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 DPIE, to implement and deliver accessible, affordable and quality housing strategies that meet the social and cultural requirements of Aboriginal people in NSW.

Objectives


The Aboriginal Housing Office 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)

 

Damien Barnes
Chair

Damien is the Chair of the AHO having served on the AHO Board since 2015.  

He is the founder and Managing Director of YIMBA Legal & Consulting. He is a Director of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, the Chair of Westpac’s Indigenous Advisory Committee, a Member of Westpac’s Stakeholder Advisory Council, a Director of Supply Nation and an Australian Indigenous Representative on the Indigenous Peoples Economic and Trade Cooperation Arrangement (IPETCA). He has been; Chair of Nguluway DesignInc, Director of The National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE), Bangarra Dance Theatre, the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre, a Member of the NSW Law Society Indigenous Issues Committee and a founding Member of Ngalaya Indigenous Lawyers Association.

Damien has more than 30 years’ experience in law, commercial management and engineering, providing advice on a range of areas including; infrastructure, construction, transport, energy and resources, renewables, environment and planning, Indigenous Business, land access, native title, cultural heritage, RAPs, ESG and dispute resolution. His employment experience includes; King & Wood Mallesons, DLA Piper, UGL, McDermott CBI, O’Donnell Griffin, Power Minerals, NTSCorp and local and state government.  

Damien is a Bidjara man from the Carnarvon Ranges in central Queensland with family connections to Woorabinda QLD. He provides extensive pro bono assistance to Indigenous communities and organisations. He holds an Executive MBA, a Law Degree, a Civil Engineering Degree and a Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Leadership. 

Damien Barnes <br>Chair

Beverley Manton

Beverley Manton is the longest serving AHO Board member and is a proud Worimi woman who is passionate about Aboriginal Community Development, Indigenous Rights and working to improve the health and wellbeing of  Aboriginal people.  

Beverley has worked in the NSW public service for more than 10 years as a Senior Officer Grade C in the NSW Department of Employment, Education and Training, where she was Manager of Aboriginal Programs across the mid north coast and western NSW.

Beverley held the position of Chair of the NSWALC for 5yrs and was the elected Counsellor for Mid North Coast Region for the Aboriginal Land Council, and was the NSWALC representative at United Nations, working to advance national and international Aboriginal rights. The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council.

On two occasions Bev presented papers to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, addressing issues affecting Australia's First Nations People, and fishing, land and water rights. 

She was an appointed to the Prime Minister’s Council for Homelessness in 2010 for the Gillard Government. 

Beverley has also served on the following Boards: the Westpac Aboriginal Advisory Board, NAB Indigenous Advisory Group, including their Reconciliation Action Plan, the Geographical Names Board NSW, the Red Cross Aboriginal Advisory Council, the Ministerial Advisory Panel for Child Sexual Assault and the Worimi Conservation Lands National Park Board. 

She was also finalist in NSW Woman of the Year in 2008.

The New South Wales Government appointed Beverley Manton as the Elder in Residence in her capacity as a Board Member to the Aboriginal Housing Office in 2022. This honorary and historic title has been bestowed in recognition of Aunty Bev’s long term service to the AHO and Aboriginal communities across NSW and her high level involvement at the State, Federal and International government levels.

Beverley Manton

Steven Adams

Steven is a proud Kamilaroi man and Hunter based business owner with a background in engineering, construction, defence industry, vocational education, health and community enterprises and currently also serves on the Boards of WentWest PHN, Hunter Primary care and President of Itji-Marru Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.

Steven was a founding director of the NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce and has served on numerous Boards, Committees and Ministerial Taskforces over the past 20 years. Steven ensures that Aboriginal perspective and input are included at the highest level of governance and decision making, and brings an understanding and working knowledge of State and Federal reforms and agendas.

Steven Adams

Joshua Gilbert

Josh is a socially and commercially focused, Worimi (Aboriginal) man with extensive experience across Indigenous affairs, the environmental sector and sustainable agriculture. Josh works across government, corporate and social organisational levels to develop and lead change through sharing the narration of Indigenous identity through agricultural and environmental truth-telling in light of modern contexts. Josh is a deep, strategic thinker and manages business change effectively through empathy. He is passionate about creating change through effective investment and societal understanding.

Josh is undertaking a PhD at Charles Sturt University, focused on the concept of Indigenous modernity through agriculture. He was recently recognised internationally for his work, announced in the inaugural 50 Next: People Shaping the Future of Gastronomy cohort. Josh is on the board for Indigenous Business Australia, the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office, KU Children's Services and the Australian Conservation Foundation and is the Aboriginal Co-Chair of Reconciliation NSW.

Joshua Gilbert

Suzanne Ingram

Suzanne Ingram is a woman of the Wiradjuri nation and is the Honorary Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health. 

As a researcher, Suzanne's focus is on health communications 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.

Suzanne Ingram

Craig Kerslake

The world is realizing that the original Custodians of our lands hold many answers as to how we view ourselves within the landscape and with each other. This most definitely informs the making of our built environment and most of all our identity.


As a Wiradjuri Architect, Craig draws upon his cultural heritage, community and knowledge of what Aboriginal people refer to as “Country”. Within a team setting, he brings this forth with spirited innovation to inform spatial design and architectural form with unique expression that finds resonance with all Australians. His cultural overlays often draw design thinking to the unexpected and provide positive outcomes focused on Aboriginal centred qualities, spatial unity and scales of social engagement.


Often this is achieved through a uniquely enriching process Craig refers to as “Designing From Country” where design narratives come from the Aboriginal understanding of Country. With cultural engagement with Aboriginal community members and Elders, clients are taken “Back to Country” on an experiential journey. By following traditional cultural practices, overlaid with architectural thinking, clients feel welcomed to the landscape, and often find their understanding and perspectives transformed. The experience is both grounding and many say they find strong bonds and a sense of connection to “place” and identity in the process. Beyond this, an often restructured brief is gained, informed by ideas of “Belonging to Country”
 

"It is our collective human fascination with our continual relationship with the natural world. Ultimately landscapes ground us and bring us back to who we really are."

Craig Kerslake

Craig Taylor

Craig Taylor, a proud Wiradjuri man, resides on his ancestral land in the border cities of Albury-Wodonga. With a deep commitment to community engagement, Craig brings forth exceptional skills in cultivating sustainable relationships rooted in authenticity, empathy, and active listening. His positive demeanour enables him to effortlessly establish rapport and trust across diverse stakeholders.

With over three decades of professional experience, Craig has served in various capacities for both the NSW and Victorian governments, spanning education, justice, health, and construction sectors. Currently, he holds the esteemed position of Director, Deputy Chief Health Adviser within the Aboriginal Health Branch of the Victorian Department of Health. Prior to this, he served as the Deputy Director, Industry Engagement and Aboriginal Workforce at Rail Projects Victoria and spent 13 years within the NSW Department of Education in roles such as Senior Education Officer, Health and Safety Advisor, and schoolteacher. Craig is also a qualified Social worker.

In his 19th year as Chair of the Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service, Craig has been instrumental in shaping a multi-jurisdictional health service that provides comprehensive, culturally appropriate care. His unwavering focus lies in ensuring Aboriginal communities have access to services that promote sustainable generational health outcomes.

As a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors since 2016, Craig brings a wealth of knowledge in risk management, strategic governance, and compliance. His adept communication and leadership skills foster collaboration and inclusivity, both within boardrooms and senior government positions.

Beyond his professional endeavours, Craig remains deeply engaged with his local community, boasting over 450 games officiated as a qualified senior Australian rules umpire. This grassroots involvement further enriches his community connections and underscores his commitment to holistic community well-being. 
 

Craig Taylor

Yvonne Weldon AM

Yvonne is a proud Wiradjuri woman. She was born and raised in the inner city of Sydney but maintains strong ties to her homelands of Cowra and the Riverina areas of New South Wales.

Yvonne Weldon is an independent Councillor for the City of Sydney and the first Aboriginal Councillor in the City's 180-year history.   

Yvonne has a strong commitment to housing and ensuring that stable, suitable and sustainable housing options are not only planned for but are delivered and are available. A robust housing sector is pivotal to ensuring that housing options for Aboriginal people are addressed with real tangible investment and outcomes.  

From a young age Yvonne developed a strong passion and commitment to bringing about positive change for Aboriginal people and communities. A life-long activist, Yvonne has 30 plus years' experience working in key government and Aboriginal organisations driving positive reform in land rights, justice, health, education, and child protection.  

Yvonne served 13 years on the Board of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, is Deputy Chair of the NSW Australia Day Council, a Board member of Domestic Violence NSW and the Aboriginal Women & Children’s Crisis Service. 

She was awarded the 2022 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year and in 2019 NSW Volunteer of the Year Adult Volunteer for the South Sydney Region. Yvonne was awarded a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia, for significant service to the Indigenous community of New South Wales in the 2022 Queens Birthday Honours List.  Yvonne is a published author and proud mother and grandmother.  

Yvonne Weldon AM

Kim Whiteley

Kim Whiteley is a distinguished Indigenous leader, renowned for her impactful contributions and strategic vision. Born in Wellington on Wiradjuri country and a descendent of the Warramunga clan group families from the Bogan River in Central West NSW, Kim has dedicated her career to advancing the well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

With a wealth of experience from grass-roots service delivery to Strategic executive leadership in corporate policy formulation and organisational strategy, Kim has navigated complexities related to rural, remote, and regional service delivery with a focus on addressing disparities and improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. Her extensive portfolio spans across healthcare, workforce, education, justice and Aboriginal Land Rights, reflecting a holistic breadth of commitment to First Nation well-being.

Currently serving as the leader at the helm of Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC), an Indigenous Health Workforce program and subsidiary of global entity Aspen Medical, Kim advocates for community-centred solutions to fortify sustained outcomes. Her leadership is characterised by a results-oriented approach, emphasising collaboration, both strategic planning and engagement, and empowering others through the concept of self-determination for optimal success.

In addition to her strategic acumen, Kim's visionary approach and culturally-informed leadership extend to directorships and governance at local, state, and national levels. She was elected as the inaugural Co-Chair for the Department of Health, Agency of Clinical Innovation Aboriginal Chronic Conditions Network. Kim served as a former Commonwealth NSW/ACT PHN Aboriginal Network Chair and on various local and regional hospital boards and has represented NSW Department of Communities and Justice Aboriginal staff throughout her esteemed career.

Beyond her professional achievements, Kim is revered for her unwavering dedication to enhancing Aboriginal community controlled strategy and empowering others. Her visionary leadership continues to drive positive change, making her a pivotal figure in the pursuit of equitable outcomes and community well-being. Kim Whiteley exemplifies excellence in Indigenous leadership, seamlessly combining strategic expertise with a profound commitment to cultural sensitivity and the betterment of Aboriginal people and communities.

Kim Whiteley
  • acknowledge

We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we work and pay our respects to the Elders, both past and present.

Apology to the Stolen Generations