Changing of the guard for Australia’s First Peoples

Jodie Minus; 3/5/10

A father of two from Brewarrina in northwest NSW and a former social worker from the ACT are the new faces of indigenous representation in Australia. Sam Jeffries, 46, and Kerry Arabena, 42, were yesterday announced as co-chairs of the executive board of the newly established National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. The announcement was made at The Australian Hall in Sydney – scene of the milestone Aboriginal Day of Mourning and protest in 1938 – and attendees smiled and hugged each other on what they called another “landmark day”. Dr Arabena, who was recently awarded a doctorate in human ecology from the Australian National University, has an extensive background in public health, administration, community development and research. Her professional appointments range from political agencies, such as director of the Regional Governance Unit in the Office of Indigenous Policy Co-ordination in Canberra, to health services.