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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Indigenous Evaluation Committee members

Indigenous AffairsEvaluations and EvidenceIndigenous Evaluation Committee
Thursday, 28 April 2022
Publication author(s):
National Indigenous Australians Agency
Chair of the Committee - Associate Professor Jason Ardler

Jason Ardler PSMAssoc Prof Jason Ardler PSM is an Aboriginal man of the Yuin nation, with cultural ties to the NSW South Coast.

For 20 years, Jason held senior executive roles in the NSW public sector, including seven years as the Head of Aboriginal Affairs NSW, where he led government strategy and reform in Aboriginal economic participation, community governance, land rights, culture and heritage, community safety, environmental health and service accountability. Prior to joining Aboriginal Affairs NSW, Jason was Executive Director Culture and Heritage in the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change.

Jason has been a member of numerous national and state level councils, executive committees and working groups on Aboriginal affairs, state and economic development, public land management, and social policy reform.  He is also an experienced board member, currently appointed to the NSW Health Pathology Board.

In 2018, Jason received the Public Service Medal (PSM) for outstanding public service. He is a Fellow of the Australian New Zealand School of Government and in 2019, was awarded the Sir James Wolfensohn Scholarship to undertake an executive leadership program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge. Jason holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of NSW and is a Global Alumni of the Commonwealth Study Conference. 

In May 2020, Jason co-founded Thirriwirri, a 100% Aboriginal-owned consultancy with the purpose of supporting Aboriginal communities and others to work differently, confidently and effectively together to achieve the social, cultural and economic aspirations of Aboriginal peoples. In November 2020, he was appointed to the role of Associate Professor and Associate Dean, Indigenous Strategy and Services at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health.

Independent Member – Dr Fiona Cram

Dr Fiona CramDr Fiona Cram is an Ngāti Pahauwera woman from Aotearoa New Zealand. Dr Cram is a prominent Maori evaluator with expertise in Indigenous led research and evaluation.

Dr Cram has a PhD in social and developmental psychology from the University of Otago. She has lectured in Social Psychology and has also been a Senior Research Fellow within the International Research Institute of Māori and Indigenous Education at the University of Auckland. In the middle of 2003, Fiona established Katoa Ltd, which is a Māori Indigenous research organisations as well as offering a range of research and evaluation training.

Dr Cram’s research interests are wide-ranging including Māori health, justice, and education. The over-riding theme of Fiona's work is Kaupapa Māori (by Māori, for Māori). Fiona is Editor-in-Chief of the Aotearoa New Zealand Evaluation Association (ANZEA) new evaluation journal, Evaluation Matters - He Take Tō Te Aromatawai, published by the NZCER.

Independent member - Ms Nattlie Smith

Nattlie Smith

Ms Nattlie (Natt) Smith is a proud Wiradjuri woman from Condobolin/Orange NSW and the Director for Aboriginal Outcomes for the NSW Department of Customer Service. She has over 20 years of experience in both government and non-government policy and operational roles across many human service areas. Natt is committed to making a positive difference through culturally responsive policy development, service design, program implementation, evaluation and analysis. Natt advocates for the importance of Aboriginal people having a voice in culturally responsive service design, program implementation and the evaluation process and has overseen a number of place-based Aboriginal-led co-design projects.

Natt was awarded the Australian Evaluation Society’s Indigenous Evaluation Award for Excellence for the Aboriginal Evidence Building in Partnership Project (2019).

Natt is a Board member for Reconciliation NSW, former Co-chair for NSW Closing the Gap – Officer Level Working Group for Housing, former Chair for AHO’s Aboriginal Research and Knowledge Advisory Committee and a former member on NSW Department of Communities and Justice’s Human Services Dataset Governance Advisory Group.

Acting Deputy Chief Executive Officer - Mr Sam Jeffries

Sam JeffriesSam Jeffries is currently acting Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Operations and Delivery (DCEO O&D), at the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).

Born in Brewarrina NSW, Sam is a proud Moorawoori/Wiradjuri man who has been an advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples his whole career. Sam has spent practically all his life in North Western NSW, having long term involvement in the development of responsible leadership, community development, and developing regional and community governance models. He has co-authored two Indigenous policy journals on Indigenous Community Governance and Leadership, published by Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology Sydney, written papers on national representation, and written and presented many speeches on public policy matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Sam led Aboriginal regional governance structures in Western NSW for two decades. The Murdi Paaki (muddy parky) Regional Council (during the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) period) and the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly MPRA (post ATSIC), were and have been at the forefront with strategic governance and leadership for collaborative arrangements between Aboriginal Peoples and Australian and NSW Governments around the delivery of services and programs.

Sam has held and continues to hold many roles in the Aboriginal community. Previous roles include: Walgett Shire Councillor from 1999 to 2003, ATSIC Councillor from 1990 to 2005, Chairperson of the Murdi Paaki Regional Council from 1996 to 2005, Board member of the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office from 1998 to 2005, Chairperson of the NSW ATSIC State Council from 2002 to 2005, Chairperson of the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly, Deputy Chairperson Indigenous Land Corporation ILC, Board Member of the Western Catchment Management Authority, Panel Member of the NSW Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme, Co-Chair National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Sports Corporation Australia.

Sam’s leadership within the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly, saw them recognised as the best Indigenous Governance in the country at the Indigenous Governance Awards in 2016.

In 2011 and 2012, Sam was part of the federal governments Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Sam’s tireless devotion to seeing appropriate change in Aboriginal communities has led him to firstly, gain employment in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as Assistant Secretary, Delivery and Engagement Closing the Gap Refresh Taskforce and Special Advisor Regional Governance Indigenous Affairs and then subsequently to his substantive role as the NIAA Group Manager for Central Group, based in Darwin.

As recognition for Sam’s services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Murdi Paaki Region, he was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001.

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