Stolen Generations Reference Group

The Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Reference Group guides our Stolen Generations work, ensuring these programs effectively meet the unique healing needs of Stolen Generations members and their families.

The group brings together a diverse group of Stolen Generations men and women from around Australia.

We gratefully acknowledge the contribution and commitment of our Stolen Generations Reference Group members:

  • Ian Hamm, VIC (Yorta Yorta), Chair
  • Michael Welsh, NSW (Wailwan, Coonamble, NSW)
  • Aunty Lorraine Peeters, QLD (Gamilaroi/Wailwan )
  • Florence Onus, QLD (Birri-Gubba and Kairi/Bidjara clans)
  • Geoff Cooper, VIC (Ngarrindjeri/Yorta Yorta )
  • Mark Bin Bakar, WA (Kitja/Gunian East Kimberley)
  • Maisie Austin, TI (Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal descent)
  • Tony Hansen, WA (Noongar and Wagyl Kaip tribal boundaries)
  • David Wragge, QLD (Wakka Wakka, Ghungalu, Juru, Bindal, and Wulgurukba)

See their full bios below.

Most recently our Stolen Generations Reference Group contributed to the design and development of the BTH20 anniversary artwork.

Ian Hamm

Ian Hamm is a Yorta Yorta man who has been actively involved in the Victorian Aboriginal community for many years. He has extensive government and community sector experience, particularly at executive and governance levels. Ian has overseen major policy and strategic reforms for government and community organisations. He is currently the chair of Connecting Home Ltd, a Victorian Stolen Generations service and also The Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Reference Group.

Michael Welsh

Michael Welsh is a Wailwan man from Coonamble in New South Wales and a survivor of the Kinchela Boys Home. As a child, Michael was forcibly removed from his mother and five of his siblings. As an adult, he was involved in establishing some of the first Aboriginal organisations in Coonamble. He has been a member of the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC) since 2009 and held the position of Treasurer since 2011.

Aunty Lorraine Peeters

Aunty Lorraine Peeters is a Wailwan/Gamilaroi woman from NSW, now living in Brisbane. She was forcibly removed as a child and has devoted many years of her life to supporting Aboriginal people to heal from past and present traumas. Based on her own healing journey she created the Marumali Program®, an accredited training program that aims to increase the quality of support available to Stolen Generations. She also played an active advocacy role in the lead up to the National Apology.

Florence Onus

Florence Onus is a descendant of the Birri-Gubba and Kairi/Bidjara clans of Queensland and a member of the Stolen Generations. Florence has worked in the education sector, providing support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, cultural training to staff and community engagement. She is currently establishing a healing centre in Townsville and helps young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers who have had their children removed through child protection policies.

Geoff Cooper

Geoff Cooper is a Ngarrindjeri/Yorta Yorta man who was forcibly removed from his family at the age of 9. A former soldier, Geoff has worked with the Aboriginal Community in various government and non-government roles since 1983. Now retired, he sits as an Elder in the law courts in South Australia, is a Board member of the Aboriginal Veterans of South Australia, and speaks to groups regarding his Stolen Generations experiences.

Mark Bin Bakar

Mark Bin Bakar is a Kitja/Gunian man from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Mark’s mother was forcibly removed and he is actively involved in seeking justice for members of the Stolen Generations. Mark was an inaugural deputy convenor of the Stolen Generations Alliance. He has also produced four albums of songs about the Stolen Generations.

Maisie Austin

Maisie Austin was born on Thursday Island, and is of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal descent. She is currently the CEO of the NT Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation and a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal. Maisie passionately advocates for compensation/reparation for NT Stolen Generations peoples, and for ongoing funding for NT Link Up services to ensure recommendations of the Bringing Them Home Report are implemented.

Tony Hansen

Tony Hansen is an Aboriginal man with links to the Great Southern region and the Great Southern Noongar and Wagyl Kaip tribal boundaries. He also has connections to the South-West Boojarah tribal boundaries around Busselton. After being forcibly removed Tony was placed at the Marribank Mission, formally known as Carrolup Mission, for 15 years. Many years later, Tony was able to reconnect with his family, and he now values the opportunity to be a voice of Stolen Generation survivors.

David Wragge

David is a Wakka Wakka man from Cherbourg, Queensland with traditional connections also to Central Queensland (Ghungalu), and North Queensland (Juru, Bindal and Wulgurukba).  He is an advocate for the protection of children, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. He believes that our children must be protected and taught about their respective cultural connections to the land and our traditional lore.

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