Our Team

Ann Hawke

Ann Hawke

Chief Executive Officer

Founder of Kinship Connections in 2012, Ann is a descendant of the Yawuru people from Broome on her grandfather’s side (Hawke family) and Gooniyandi people from the East Kimberly on her grandmother’s side (Cox family). Ann is the third generation in her family to have been affected by government removal policies. Immediately before starting Kinship Connections, Ann worked in the Department for Child Protection for six years as a Senior Field Officer within Fostering Services. She worked first as a trainer on best practice fostering but soon moved into recruitment and assessment of potential foster parents. Ann’s knowledge and expertise continue to be sought by the Department of Child Protection and other agencies on a regular basis. She sat on the Foster Carer’s Centralised Panel for eight years and is a key resource on Aboriginal and fostering issues across the Non-Government sector in WA. Her detailed knowledge of kinship relationships across the Aboriginal community is frequently called on and she takes a growing number of after-hours calls on this issue. Anns is a strong advocate for Aboriginal children in care and currently sits on the Foster Care Association WA’s board. Ann currently sits on a number of RAP planning Committees (The Reconciliation Action Plan) within the Non-government sector.

Ann has been an active foster carer for the past 35 years and has fostered in excess of 100 children over this time. Ann is now currently caring for her five grandsons full time through the Department. Ann is a strong advocate for parents and families who are involved with the Department of Child Protection.

Dallas Nannup

Dallas Nannup

Community Consultant

Dallas is a Noongar woman from the Gnaala Karla Booja regions of Pinjarra and Ravenswood. She grew up as a “State Ward” between the ages of two until she was twenty-one years of age. Dallas grew up with her paternal family with many extended families around her.

Dallas has worked in various agencies such as Woman’s Refuges, Shelters and the Aboriginal Medical Service now known as Derbarl Yerrigan Health Services as a Program Manager in the Aged Care unit where she worked with Aboriginal Elders in the community. Dallas’ fostering career started in the 70s when she started caring for her extended families and because of her regular interactions with the Department at the time. Dallas’ home was seen as a safe place for many Aboriginal children in the community.

As a proud Noongar mother, grandmother and carer, Dallas recognises the importance of connecting children in care with their culture and identity for a better future. Dallas strongly believes that nothing is better than being connected to your own family.

Justine Bennell

Justine Bennell

Community Consultant

Justine is a Noongar Yamatji woman and through both her parents and is connected to many Noongar and Yamatji families in Western Australia. She holds a double degree with a Bachelor of Education (Teaching) and a Bachelor of Arts (Australian Studies) and is a qualified Trainer and Assessor and Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol worker.

Justine has worked in government and non-government organisations for many years in Victoria and Western Australia in the fields of education, training, youth justice, case management, welfare/family support, Aboriginal community development and is very passionate about serving her communities, particularly in the youth at risk space and believes that empowering youth is vital for future generations.

Maree Bennell

Maree Bennell

Community Consultant

Marie is a Noongar Yamatji woman through both her parents and is connected to many Noongar and Yamatji families in Western Australia. Marie is a proud mother and grandmother and has been a relative carer over the years.  She has a passion for instilling values of identity to make sure children grow up with a sense of belonging.

From a young age, Marie has worked in several Aboriginal communities in Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria in the areas of education and health. Marie is a holder of a Certificate IV in Mental Health and has a strong interest in social and emotional wellbeing.

From a young age, Marie has had a passion for genealogy. She has engaged with family history in the study of Aboriginal people from the Southwest of WA and other areas of WA tracing numerous lineages to empower families and communities of who their people are.

Ashleigh Jamieson

Ashleigh Jamieson

Anthropologist

A young Wadjela of South African heritage, Ashleigh grew up well-aware of racial segregation and where she was born within it. As with many of her peers, Ashleigh’s understanding of Aboriginal culture and the impact of the Stolen Generation(s) was scarce and came from second-hand sources such as teachers, friends, university papers and the media. Ashleigh had not spoken directly to an Aboriginal person about their experience until she came to Kinship Connections. Starting as a volunteer, Ashleigh’s intention was to leave everything she thought she knew about Aboriginal people at the door and to learn through listening.

With degrees in Law and Psychology, Ashleigh has a passion for understanding the intergenerational impacts of trauma and how this interacts with the justice system. She is driven to give a voice to those who don’t otherwise have the opportunity. Ashleigh is our dedicated anthropologist and conducts research to map out the families of Aboriginal kids who are disconnected from their mob, through our Who’s My Mob and Finding Families programs.

Megan Richards

Megan Richards

Program Manager

Megan was born the second of three children and raised in the North West, amongst the red dirt and spinifex, with the endless beaches and Ningaloo reef as her playground. Megan has always loved children and after an early career working in childcare, she decided to travel around Australia, which is where she found her second home in the rainforest of Kuranda, North Queensland. Megan’s beautiful daughter was born in Kuranda and during her time living with the Tjapukai people, in the small community of Mona Mona, Megan learnt and witnessed first-hand, the struggle of Aboriginal people in Australia. Motivated to do more by her experience living in North Queensland, Megan enrolled in a Social Work Degree on her return to WA. In social work, Megan found a career that allowed her to combine her love of children with her passion for reconciliation and social justice. Megan’s subsequent journey as a social worker has provided her with the opportunity to work with children, young people and adults, both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal. Each and every one of these experiences has been an honour and a privilege and has inspired and motivated Megan to do more. Megan believes, if we are able to harness the collective energy of the thousands of people seeking to make a difference in our community, we can be more powerful than we know – we can achieve more good than we ever thought possible. Megan believes we are moving in this direction and continues to look forward to the day we arrive.

The Board

In Memory Of Josey Hansen

In Memory Of Josey Hansen

Chairperson

Josey Hansen was a Noongar, wife, mother, grandmother and active member of her community. Josey was employed as an Aboriginal Consultant with Anglicare WA. In 2007 she was acknowledged at the National Anglicare Australia Awards and received the Service Excellence award for the cultural work. Josey is the founder of Blak Diamond Consulting. She had a strong belief that ‘yarning-sharing stories’ and effective use of networks has reached out to the broader community to work towards an inclusive society and serves to challenge stereotypical beliefs that are problematic in preventing people living in harmony.

Josey was a very respected Board Member of Kinship Connections who went above and beyond the call of duty with her service. She will be greatly missed.

Mervyn Eades

Mervyn Eades

Chair Person

Mervyn is a proud Nyoongar man. He is the CEO of the Ngalla Maya Aboriginal Corporation; the organisation he founded and developed to respond to the high rates of illiteracy, lack of educational qualifications and joblessness among former inmates. From the age of 13 to 31, Mervyn was in and out of juvenile detention and prison. He lost an 18-year-old brother to a death in prison custody.

Mervyn was recognised with the 2016 Eddie Mabo Award for Social Justice at the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards. Ngalla Maya provides training, education, mentoring for former inmates. Ngalla Maya provides ongoing mentoring, long after its graduates are employed. In the last 18 months, Ngalla Maya registered more than 200 former inmates into training programs with 100 of the graduates into pre-agreed employment. Ngalla Maya is Perth-based, recently expanding into WA’s South West. Ngalla Maya sponsors the Women’s Reintegration Program.

Professor Mike Clare

Professor Mike Clare

Vice Chair

Associate Professor Mike Clare
Adjunct Senior Research Fellow
School of Population Health
The University of Western Australia

Mike Clare was appointed Lecturer in Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Sussex in 1974, becoming Head of School between 1980 and 1985. Mike moved to The University of Western Australia in 1987; he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1993 and to Associate Professor in 2001. Mike retired as Professor of Social Work and Social Policy in late 2009, having been a Social Work educator for over 35 years. Mike’s continuing areas of research, policy and practice interest are professional supervision and family-based practice, including foster care and adoption, elder abuse and cross-cultural issues.

Ruth Rowan

Ruth Rowan

Member

Ruth was born in Sydney and belongs to the Wiradjuri and Ngyampar people from the Snowy Mountains. Since infancy, she grew up away from her family. At the age of nine, Ruth was made a Ward of the State and she was put into foster care, where she remained until she was seventeen.

After her time in foster care, Ruth was homeless and living on the streets of Sydney. Hyde Park became her home. Eventually, Ruth found employment and a secure place to live.

Ruth moved to Western Australia in 1968 and has lived here since. She lived in Geraldton and many other places up through the Murchison regions. While in Nullagine in 1980, Ruth spent time connecting with the Aboriginal community. After having her first child, Ruth moved to Perth and was heavily involved in setting up the Ronald McDonald House, which was first named the “House of Life”.

Given her past experiences, Ruth has always had a passion for helping children and has been involved with fundraising for community agencies.

In the late 1990s, Ruth researched her family background for the first time in her life and discovered who her siblings were. At this same time, Ruth also became aware of her Aboriginality.

Ruth connected with Kinship Connections in 2008 and became more involved in the local Aboriginal community.  Ruth is now is a proud board member of Kinship Connections Aboriginal Corporation.

Fay Alford

Fay Alford

Member

With boundless love and vast reserves of energy, Fay Alford puts the welfare and wellbeing of children at the centre of all she does. Fay and her husband David have fostered close to 90 vulnerable children over the last three decades while raising their two biological daughters. They have adopted two foster children, and a third chose to be adopted by the Alfords when she turned 18. Fay and David are still fostering today, raising their now 5 year old granddaughter whom they have cared for from birth.

A member of the Foster Care Association from 1987, its President Elect from 2001 and Director from 2009, Fay provides support and advocacy to foster carers throughout the state of Western Australia.

Fay is an advisor to the minister of Child Protection and the Assistant Director General of the Department of Communities; she is the public face of fostering in WA; a guest speaker at conferences and community events; and a key figure in the training, panelling and recruitment of new foster carers. Fay has twice been nominated as a finalist in the Australian of the Year in 2016 and 2017 and was the recipient of the prestigious John Curtin Medal in 2018 for her recognised qualities of vision, leadership and significant and ongoing service to the community. In 2020, Fay was awarded the prestigious Order Of Australia Medal for her exemplary service to children over the years.

Nikita Hawke

Nikita Hawke

Member

Kumanjil Tim Hill

Kumanjil Tim Hill

Member

Tim is a proud Nyoongar man from “Wadandi Country”. Tim’s mother and his mother’s siblings, grandfather (Tim Harris), great grandfather (Tim Harris) and great-great grandfather (Tim Harris) were all born in Margaret River.

Tim grew up in the Busselton–Margaret River region in the late 1960s, attending Margaret River and West Busselton Primary School prior to his mother moving to Perth in 1970 and eventually lived in Cloverdale and attended Belmont SHS. Tim left school in 1975 and returned ‘home’ to Busselton to stay with his uncle who got him short-term seasonal work on the local potato farms in the Marybrook area.

Tim travelled to Katherine NT in the early 1980s and secured employment with the NT Government and Commonwealth Government. Tim has worked in the major NT centres of Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs in management positions with local Aboriginal Medical/Health Services and a major Aboriginal Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre. Tim was also a member of the NT Alcohol Reform and Working Party Committee and the NT roll-out of the new Unleaded (Petrol) Fuels Implementation Reforms Working Party Committee. Tim has held positions in the mining industry as well as the WA Police Service for six years stationed in Perth, Bunbury and Wiluna.

During the past 35-40 years, Tim has held positions on various boards in the NT and WA within Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) and Government.

Tim worked and travelled to many remote communities within the NT, Kimberly’s, Pilbara, Western Central Desert, APY Lands (SA/NT) and western QLD facilitating training programmes for many local communities and community members within the mining, alcohol/drug, driver training, dispute resolution services, pre-employment education and training industry sectors.

Tim is currently completing his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) at University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) which has been put on hold for 2 years due to the COVID-19 Pandemic closure of Australian Universities from 2020 to 2022.

Tim has extensive cultural family and community knowledge and experience throughout his 35-40 years working experience combined with his personal life experiences of culture, family and community.

Family Carer Support

In Partnership With UnitingWA

Carwyn Taitumu

Carwyn Taitumu

Family Carer Support

E rere kaumai te awa nui mai te Kahui Maunga ki Tangaroa, Ko au te Awa, Ko te Awa ko au. As the river flows from the mountain to the sea, I am the River and the River is me.

Born and raised in the Whanganui area in Aotearoa (New Zealand), from the Atihaunui-a-Paparangi tribe also known as the River people. Carwyn was fortunate to be raised by her grandmother and her peers. Her upbringing was rich in language and culture which gave her a strong sense of connection and understanding of who she is, where she comes from and where she belongs.  This way of life gave Carwyn many opportunities to develop her skills in caring for people and set the foundations for the community work she would undertake in the future. Carwyn has many roles within her family, a Mother, Grandmother, Aunty, Sister, Cousin, Granddaughter, Niece and occasionally a spokesperson.

Carwyn’s family are strong advocates for land rights and social justice. They are activists who gave Carwyn an early understanding to the existence of systemic discrimination and racial profiling. This led to Carwyn studying education, health, social work and eventually community development. Carwyn started her working career within Kohanga Reo-Early Childhood language centres and then moved into Family Support work, Indigenous health and program development with first nations people.

These roles have provided Carwyn with lifelong learning and many occasions to be of service to the communities she lives and works in. She has a passion for supporting others to live their best lives and believe in self-determination and person led servicing.  She enjoys working with people from diverse backgrounds and different cultures. The learning is rich, varied, challenging at times and definitely life changing.

Deb Casey

Deb Casey

Family Carer Support

Deb has many years of experience working mainly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families across the top end of Australia and Victoria. Deb’s social work experience has included working for various NGO’s and Child Protection in the NT and QLD as a case manager and team leader.

Deb has extensive experience working in the areas of family support/case management, homelessness, mental health, youth support, kinship and fostering programs and guardianship assessments.

Maryanne Rinaldo

Maryanne Rinaldo

Family Carer Support

Maryanne moved from Canada to Western Australia in 2017 and began working in disability services and child care. Maryanne has worked and lived in rural areas such as Esperance and Kununurra. During this time, Maryanne gained experience working cross culturally with CaLD and Aboriginal families. Upon returning to Perth, Maryanne began working with children in out-of-home care first as a Primary Carer, then as a Senior Case Worker. Additionally, Maryanne has volunteered at a women’s transitional accommodation, supporting Aboriginal women in their journey to find stable housing.

Maryanne completed her BA Honours in Sociology and Political Science with distinction in 2015. Maryanne practices using a trauma-informed lens and a strengths-based approach in her current role as Senior Case Worker.

 

Volunteers

Lee Peters

Lee Peters

Volunteer

Lee spent more than three decades in the Department for Child Protection and Family Support as a Social Worker throughout metropolitan and country Western Australia. During the latter part of her career she was the District Director in Midland for five years and then the Wheatbelt for five years. She originally joined the Department of Native Welfare in the late 1960s and spent time in the Murchison area, including Mount Magnet, Mullewa, Geraldton, Carnarvon and Meekatharra. Lee was and still is especially interested in working with and alongside Aboriginal families and communities. She has also spent time with the Plains Cree Indian people in Saskatchewan in Canada. In 2002 Lee was seconded to the Department of Indigenous Affairs at the request of their Director General and spent eight months in Kalgoorlie developing and improving service delivery to Aboriginal people in the Goldfields. Lee has served on a number of boards and committees, including FACT [Forgotten Australians Coming Together – for former child migrants and young people leaving care] for ten years, and continues to be a member of the Communities for Children Committee in the City of Swan and Shire of Mundaring, and is the Chairperson for the Madjitil Moorna Choir which is an all-ages community choir, which sings Indigenous songs of reconciliation and healing. After leaving the CPFS Lee spent 18 months working with Ngala in Midland and Belmont, firstly as a Community Worker with the Swan Alliance – Communities for Children program [C4C] – in Midland and subsequently as Community Services Co-ordinator in the Belmont Office. Lee continues to be a member of the C4C Committee. Additionally, Lee is a Justice of the Peace and Civil Marriage Celebrant.

Helen Flavell

Helen Flavell

Volunteer

PhD, Grad Cert (Journalism), BA (Hons)]
Coordinator, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning | Faculty of Health Sciences
Helen is a wadjela who has lived on Noongar Wadjuk country for most of her life and has a strong interest in social justice. Helen is very grateful for the life and advantages she has had as a consequence of living in this country. Helen works at Curtin University in the Faculty of Health Sciences and has the privilege of being involved in the common first-year unit Indigenous Cultures and Health. This unit aims to provide future health graduates with an understanding of the history, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to better prepare them to work in partnership and provide culturally appropriate health and social services. Currently, Helen is teaching in the unit but has been involved in several related projects at Curtin. Her own education in Aboriginal history came late; like most non-Aboriginal people she was ignorant of the history of our country and the impact of colonisation as she wasn’t taught any of this at school. She believes she is still learning! Helen is the Chair of the Reconciliation Action Plan Committee at her daughter’s school, Beehive Montessori. Her hope is that if we educate non-Aboriginal children so they have an understanding of Aboriginal culture and history they can actively contribute to a better future by becoming agents of change. Helen came to meet Ann through her friend and colleague Professor Marion Kickett (who she works with at Curtin) and when she heard about the great work Ann was doing she was more than happy to assist through writing grant applications. Through its culturally secure programmes, Kinship Connections WA addresses a significant gap in social services. Helen feels humbled and lucky to be involved with Ann’s important work.

Kevin Ronald Ward

Kevin Ronald Ward

Volunteer

Kevin is a Noongar man born in Katanning to father Ronald Ward and mother Phyllis Ward (nee Farmer). Kevin lives in Perth and has worked with the Aboriginal community all his life.

After his mother’s passing, Kevin was sent to live with his aunty at the young age of six years old. It was then that he learnt to grow up fast and start learning the tough lessons in life. Kevin knows first-hand of the effects that separation can bring to you by being removed from your parents. Because of this broken attachment to his parents, Kevin found it hard to find his place of belonging. This started his life of destruction which spanned somewhat over the next thirty years, often with regular bouts of incarceration.

Kevin is now the proud father of eight children and many grandchildren. He now devotes his time to help young men who are starting to travel down the same road he travelled and is instrumental to Kinship Connections Youth group.

Glen Hawke

Glen Hawke

Volunteer