Indigenous Australians Caring for Country

Indigenous Advisory Committee

Group Photo

Front L-R: Frank Loban, Kado Muir, Jackie Huggins (AHC), Daniel Oades, Melissa George, Paul Grimes (Secretary); Francine McCarthy, Klynton Wanganeen Back L-R: Damein Bell, David Parker (Deputy Secretary), Stephen Oxley (First Assistant Secretary, Marine Division), Malcolm Thompson (Deputy Secretary), Dave Johnston, Rodney Dillon (AHC), Jason Field

Fact sheet


Closing the Gap is a commitment by all Australian Governments to improve the lives of Indigenous people. The Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC) is an expert group who provide advice about program, policies and consultation strategies.

Committee members have extensive knowledge and experience in a wide range of land and sea management activities.

The IAC provides advice to the Minister and Department regarding better access to and engagement with our programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Committee's priorities for 2013 are:

  1. Environment and heritage legislation, policy and program implementation and reform.
  2. All Program Investments.
  3. Sea country planning and management.
  4. Biodiversity and species conservation and management.
  5. Building internal capacity and leadership.

The role of the IAC is to:

The committee addresses issues relating to the EPBC Act. That is, issues relating to activities in Commonwealth areas and activities affecting the matters of National Environmental Significance that the EPBC Act covers. These include World Heritage properties, National Heritage listed places, Ramsar wetlands, nationally threatened species and ecological communities, migratory species, Commonwealth marine areas, and nuclear actions, including uranium mining.

Terms of Reference

In reference to its roles and by incorporating Indigenous people's knowledge of the management of land and heritage, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, the IAC will:

  1. Work with peak Indigenous bodies, experts, communities, and other stakeholders to ensure the views of Indigenous peoples are incorporated in the implementation and development of the Act and work being undertaken by the Department as it relates to environment and heritage outcomes.
  2. Establish a working relationship with divisions of the Department to seek and provide advice and make recommendations to the Minister and the Department on Indigenous issues that are relevant to achieving the objects of the EPBC Act and the role of the Department.
  3. Monitor the implementation of Bilateral Agreements within the States and Territories and advise the Minister of their impact on Indigenous interests.
  4. Provide the Minister with a communique following each meeting reporting on Indigenous issues under the EPBC Act and matters of interest to the Department.
  5. Respond to any issues of urgency that arise during the implementation of the EPBC Act or departmental business that require a response from the Committee.
  6. Establish a Protected Areas (IPA) Sub-Committee to:
    • Seek to reflect the views of all stakeholders - including State and Territory conservation agencies, non-government organisations and Indigenous groups from across Australia - in the development of the IPA element of the Caring for our Country initiative.
    • Encourage the development of complementary processes in each State and Territory.
    • Advise on the implementation of the IPA element of the Caring for our Country initiative, including broader Indigenous conservation issues.
    • Contribute to the monitoring and evaluation of the IPA initiative.
    • Seek to identify and promote national best-practice examples of Indigenous-owned and managed protected areas, and cooperative management of protected areas by Indigenous groups and government agencies.
    • Recommend options for the development of IPAs
    • Review IPA guidelines.


Membership of the IAC is based on expertise in Indigenous land management, conservation and cultural heritage management. All committee members are Indigenous Australians and are not chosen to represent particular regions or organisations. Members of the IAC have a wide range of skills and knowledge in fields such as park management, cultural heritage management, Indigenous land management, tertiary education and local, regional and state Indigenous affairs.

Committee members

Map of Australia Francine mcCarthy Joe Morrison Frank Loban Melissa George Jason Field Bruce Martin Chrissy Grant KKlynton Wanganeen Kado Muir Dave Johnston Daniel Oades

Melissa George, Chair

Melissa George

Key areas of expertise: Archaeology and protected area management, sea country management, training and education.

Melissa George is a Wulgurukaba woman whose traditional area includes Magnetic Island and the greater Townsville region, Far North Queensland.

Melissa is active in natural resource management through her involvement in community projects, cultural heritage surveys, property planning and on ground activities like weed management and revegetation. She uses her experience and knowledge to advise Queensland and Australian Government and is a member of a number of NRM committees including the Great Barrier Management Park Authority Board and the Wet Tropics Indigenous Working Group.

Melissa has been a member of the IAC since 2002 and has been Chair since 2006.

Chrissy Grant, Deputy Chair

Chrissy Grant

Key areas of expertise: Cultural heritage, Indigenous Protected Areas and landscape Scale Management

Chrissy Grant is a Kuku Yalanji and Torres Strait Islander woman who lives in Tumut, New South Wales.

With a background in cultural and natural heritage management Chrissy was for ten years the Director of Indigenous Heritage in the Australian Heritage Commission and the Department of Environment and Heritage.

A member of the IAC since 2007 and Deputy Chair since 2008, Chrissy is Chair of the IAC-IPA Sub-Committee which is part of the Indigenous Protected Areas Advisory Group. She is currently Australia's representative on the Steering Committee of the Indigenous and Communities Conserved Areas Consortium and is the Chair of the Research Ethics Committee for Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).

Chrissy is a member of Australian National Landscapes Reference Committee and the Australian Conservation Foundation. She is Co-Chair of the International Repatriation Advisory Committee which reports to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and is a member of UNESCO's Australian National Commission reporting to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Joe Morrison

Joe Morrison

Key areas of expertise: Turtle and dugong management, land and sea country management, research and policy.

Joe was born and raised in Katherine in the Northern Territory. His heritage is Dagoman and Mualgal from Moa Island in the Torres Strait.

Over the last 15 years, he has worked with Indigenous communities across northern Australia to develop local action to care for their country.

Joe Morrison is the Chief Executive Officer of Northern Australia Indigenous Land and Sea Management Authority, and has a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Resource Management from the University of Sydney.

Joe has been a member of the IAC since 2003.

Daniel Oades

Daniel Oades

Key areas of expertise: Turtle and dugong management, sea country management, Indigenous Protected Areas, Working on Country and community driven natural resources management projects

Daniel Oades is a Bardi Traditional Owner from the northern region of the Dampier Peninsular in Kimberley, Western Australia.

Based in Broome, Western Australia Daniel is the manager of the Kimberley Land Council's Land and Sea Management Unit. Daniel has worked as the Indigenous Protected Areas Coordinator for the Kimberley Land Council and was the coordinator for the Bardi Jawi Rangers in the community of Ardyaloon.

The Bardi Jawi Rangers are renowned for achieving successful environmental outcomes, and have pioneered a number of innovative research programs to monitor turtle and dugong populations in the Kimberley.

Daniel has been a member of the IAC since 2007.

Klynton Wanganeen

Klynton Wanganeen

Key areas of expertise: Policy

Klynton Wanganeen is a descendant of the Narungga and Ngarrindjeri nations

Through his involvement and participation on regional, state and national bodies Klynton has intimate knowledge of the issues facing Aboriginal communities of South Australia and nationally.

From February 2008 to October 2011, Klynton was a Director of the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples. Appointed by the Governor of South Australia, Klynton also held the position of Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement.

Klynton is currently the Chair of the Narungga Nations Aboriginal Corporation, Chair of the South Australian Congress of Native Title Committees and member of the National VET Indigenous Taskforce.

Klynton was appointed to the IAC in 2009

Francine McCarthy

Francine McCarthy

Key areas of expertise: Policy and land management

Francine McCarthy is a Warumungu woman from the Tennant Creek region, Northern Territory.

Francine is a heritage management graduate who possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in natural resource management in central Australia. Employed as a policy officer with the Central Land Council based in Tennant Creek Francine is also the Chairperson of the Patta Aboriginal Corporation.

Francine has been a member of the IAC since its inception in 2000.

Frank Loban

Frank Loban

Key areas of expertise: Turtle and dugong management and sea country management

Frank Loban is a Traditional Owner from the western and top western areas of the Torres Strait Islands.

Frank is currently the Senior Natural Resource Management Officer (Sea) for the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) and manages the TSRA Turtle and Dugong Project. He works directly with Torres Strait communities in natural resource management for sea resources. Through his work he regularly visits island communities and experiences firsthand the environmental issues of the Torres Strait.

Frank was appointed to the IAC in 2010.

Jason Field

Jason Field

Key areas of expertise: International affairs, education and training, human rights, Nagoya Protocol

Jason Field, who lives on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland is a member of the Yuin Nation, New South Wales and has family connection and a long association with the La Perouse Aboriginal community, NSW.

Throughout his professional life Jason has been involved in a diverse range of issues including; cultural heritage, human rights and international engagement, education and training. He is the IAC representative working with the Australian delegation on the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity negotiations.

Jason has been a member of the IAC since 2008.

Kado Muir

Kado Muir

Key areas of expertise: Archaeology, cultural heritage and anthropology

Kado Muir is a Ngalia man from the Western Desert and Goldfields regions of Western Australia.

Kado has worked as an anthropologist and archaeologist for the past fifteen years, and is currently the Specialist Anthropologist on the Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Committee (established under the WA State Aboriginal Heritage Act). He has formally held positions as a board member of the Goldfields Esperance Development Commissions, and the Goldfields Esperance Area Consultative Committee.

Kado was appointed to the IAC in 2010.

Dave Johnston

Dave Johnston

Key areas of expertise: Archaeology, Anthropologist and Cultural heritage

Dave grew up in Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait and now lives in Canberra, ACT.

Dave Johnston is the Director of Aboriginal Archaeologists Australia. He has worked as the community appointed archaeologist for Traditional Owner groups throughout Australia and is a lecturer in the Archaeology Department, Australian National University where he teaches an archaeological field school course.

Dave sits on the ACT Heritage Council; is a member of the AIATSIS Ethics Committee and the Canberra Museum and Gallery's Advisory Board as well as being a Board Member of Aboriginal History (Journal) ANU.

As an Indigenous Executive and council member, Dave was actively involved in the development and adoption of a Code of Ethics for the World Archaeological Congresses. He also drove the adoption of a Code of Ethics by the Australian Archaeological Association in 1990-91. Working as a consultant Dave carried out the national community consultation for the development of the Commonwealth Governments' guidelines for Indigenous heritage: Ask First: A guide to respecting Indigenous Heritage Places and Values!

Dave Johnston was appointed to the IAC in 2006.

Bruce Martin

Bruce Martin

Key area of expertise: Anthropology

Bruce Martin currently lives in Aurukun, far north Queensland.

Bruce brings a wealth of experience from his work within the Indigenous health, child safety and environmental and cultural management sectors.

Bruce is CEO of Aak Puul Ngantam "our ancestral homelands" - trading as APN Cape York. APN Cape York is an organisation supporting Aurukun people to make their own decisions for country, while looking at sustainable livelihood opportunities that build community capacity and resilience.

Bruce has worked on land tenure and management arrangements in Cape York, as well as Indigenous health, child safety and youth justice issues for young people from remote areas. He has attended an international youth forum on peace and reconciliation and Bruce also represented Australia in water polo.

Bruce Martin was appointed to the IAC in 2012.


The IAC meet at least twice a year. Meetings are rotated around states and regions, with at least one meeting in Canberra and one meeting on-country. The IAC also hold regular teleconference meetings.

Industry Advisory Committee Bulletins

IAC Meeting 28 - 2-3 April 2014, Canberra, ACT

IAC Meeting 27 - 2627 November 2013, Canberra, ACT

IAC Meeting 26 - 2425 May 2013, Darwin, Northern Territory

IAC Meeting 25 - 23-25 October 2012, Cairns, Queensland


Secretariat services are provided by staff of the Indigenous Policy and Programs Branch of the Department of the Environment.

Contacting the IAC


Phone: (02) 6275 9212

Post: IAC Secretariat
Indigenous Policy and Programs Branch
Biodiversity Conservation Division
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787

Publications and submissions

Please see below publications and submissions which the IAC have assisted with:

Caring for Country Strategy

National Caring for Country Strategy Cover

The National Caring for Country Strategy reinforces the cultural and social importance of caring for country and highlights the economic opportunities arising out of caring for country.