Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten named the 16-member council on Monday.
Led by Professor Patrick Dodson and Mr Mark Leibler AC, who were co-chairmen of the former expert panel on constitutional recognition, the Referendum Council will advise the government on progress and next steps towards a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution.
Meet the 16 people who will guide the Constitutional recognition debate:
Professor Patrick Dodson is a Yawuru man from Broome, the Chair of the Yawuru Native Title Company "Nyamba Buru Yawuru Ltd", and a Director of Yawuru Body Corporate. He was the founding Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and a Commissioner for the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Professor Dodson served as a Co-Chair of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.
Mr Mark Leibler AC is the senior partner at Arnold Bloch Leibler and head of the firm’s taxation practice. Mr Leibler is the National Chairman of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council and was Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia. Mr Leibler served as a Co-Chair of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.
Ms Pat Anderson AO is an Alyawarre woman and the outgoing Chief Executive Officer of the Lowitja Foundation. Previously, Ms Anderson was Chief Executive Officer of Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and Executive Officer of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT). Ms Anderson also co-authored of Little Children Are Sacred, a report on the abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory.
Ms Megan Davis is a Professor of Law, an Acting Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court, and the Director of the Indigenous Law Centre at the University of New South Wales. Professor Davis also serves as Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, being the first Australian Indigenous woman to be elected to a United Nations body. Professor Davis was a member of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians and is a Cobble Cobble Aboriginal woman from South East Queensland.
Mr Andrew Demetriou is the former Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Football League. Mr Demetriou previously held the positions of Managing Director of Ruthinium Group and Chief Executive Officer of the AFL Players Association. Mr Demetriou currently serves as Chairman of Capitol Health Ltd, Executive Chairman of Acquire Learning Pty Ltd, and a Director-Sports Marketing at Bastion Group (Australia).
Mr Murray Gleeson AC QC is a former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Mr Gleeson was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1974. Mr Gleeson was previously Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales. Mr Gleeson currently serves as a non-permanent Judge for the Court of Final Appeal (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region).
Mr Mick Gooda is a descendent of the Gangulu people of central Queensland and is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner. Mr Gooda was previously Chief Executive Officer of the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health. Mr Gooda previously served as a member of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.
Ms Tanya Hosch is a Torres Strait Islander woman and is the Joint Campaign Director of Recognise. Ms Hosch is also a Director of the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute and previously worked on the design and establishment of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Ms Hosch was also a member of the Act of Recognition Review Panel.
Professor Kristina Keneally is a former Premier of New South Wales, and held a range of ministerial portfolios including Planning, Infrastructure, Disability Services, and Ageing. Professor Keneally currently serves as Director of Gender Inclusion and Adjunct Professor at the Macquarie Graduate School of Management. Professor Keneally co-hosts ‘To the Point’; is Patron of the Stillbirth Foundation Australia; and is an Ambassador for both Opportunity Australia International and the John Berne School.
Ms Jane McAloon is a strategic and corporate adviser. Previously, Ms McAloon was President of Governance and Group Company Secretary of BHP Billiton, and served as Director General of the New South Wales Ministry of Energy and Utilities. Ms McAloon is a non-Executive Director of Energy Australia, a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and a former Director of the Australian War Memorial.
Mr Noel Pearson comes from the Guugu Yimidhirr community of Hope Vale on south eastern Cape York Peninsula. Mr Pearson is a lawyer, and Founder and Director of Strategy of the Cape York Partnership. Mr Pearson also co-founded the Cape York Land Council, and helped to establish Apunipima Health Council, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation and Indigenous Enterprise Partnerships. Mr Pearson served as a member of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.
Mr Michael Rose is Chief Executive Partner at Allens. Mr Rose is the Chairman of the ChildFund Alliance, Sydney Living Museums and the Business Council of Australia’s Indigenous Engagement Taskforce. Mr Rose is a Board Member of the Committee for Sydney, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, an Advisory Board Member of the Empowered Communities Group, and an Ambassador of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation.
Ms Natasha Stott Despoja AM is the Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls and Chair of Our Watch, an organisation working to raise awareness and engage the community in action to prevent violence against women and their children. Ms Stott Despoja is also an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide, and a former Senator for South Australia. Ms Stott Despoja was leader of the Australian Democrats (2001- 2002).
Ms Amanda Vanstone is a former Senator for South Australia, and held a number of ministerial portfolios in the Howard Government, including Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs. Ms Vanstone is Australia’s longest serving female Cabinet Minister since Federation. Ms Vanstone also served as Australia’s Ambassador to Italy and San Marino from 2007 to 2010. Ms Vanstone is currently Chair of Vision 2020 Australia and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Ms Dalassa Yorkston is a Torres Strait Islander woman and Chief Executive Officer of the Torres Shire Council. She is the first Indigenous local woman to hold this position. Ms Yorkston has been a member of the Executive Management Team within Council since 2008, and has long experience working with local government.
Dr Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM is an Elder of the Gumatj clan of the Yolngu people and assisted in the drafting of the Bark Petition at Yirrkala. Dr Yunupingu was a member of the Yirrkala Town Council and is a former Chairman of the Northern Land Council. Dr Yunupingu was named Australian of the Year in 1978 for his negotiations on the Ranger uranium mine agreement. Dr Yunupingu was a member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.