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Vicki Clark OAM - Chairperson and Co-Founder

Vicki is a proud Mutthi Mutthi and Wemba Wemba woman, and lifelong advocate, supporter and activist for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. Vicki founded The Aboriginal Catholic Ministry of Victoria (ACMV) and became the first ever Coordinator of the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, where she fostered Aboriginal spirituality within the Catholic church of Victoria for over 25 years. ​After identifying the need for support of Aboriginal families in education, Vicki, along with John Arthur and Melissa Brickell, the ACMV and community, launched Opening The Doors Foundation.​

Vicki has guided people through the lands of her ancestors around Lake Mungo to listen, learn and feel the spirit of the land. She is currently the Chairperson of Yingadi Aboriginal Corporation and is committed to the Treaty process of Victoria including as part of the Aboriginal Treaty Working Group.

Vicki has been on numerous boards including as Australian Catholic University, the Mary MacKillop Foundation, Caritas Australia, the Sisters of St Joseph, the Edmund Rice Education Australia, as Deputy of Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) and as Chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council. Vicki has won countless awards for her commitment to the Aboriginal community and to Reconciliation, including the Order of Australia Medal which she was awarded in 2018.


Melissa Brickell - Co-Founder

Melissa is a proud Yorta Yorta Ulupna and Wiradjeri woman who has been actively supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community on justice issues: reconciliation and human rights, and in particular Stolen Generations. Melissa has supported the ACMV since 1991 and co-founded Opening The Doors Foundation.


Melissa has 10-year teaching experience in Victoria and the Northern Territory in public and private sectors in Primary, Secondary, University, TAFE, Prison, Museum and the Church.​​ Melissa has worked with a number of education and welfare organisations in supporting the welfare, cultural rights and freedoms of Aboriginal peoples, including with the Department of Employment Education and Training,  the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, MacKillop Family Services, and the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care.

Melissa has been a committed community volunteer with a number of organisations  over the years; some for many years: The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Committee, The Living Museum of the West, Reconciliation Victoria, State and, National Sorry Day Committees, Stolen Generations Alliance, MacKillop Heritage and Information Services, Victorian Aboriginal Catholic Council, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council, Caritas Reference Group,  National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission, and for the Opening The Doors Foundation for 16 years.


Melissa received: A Reconciliation Award for Advancing the rights and community life of Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, Maribyrnong City Council, 1998; a Community services Award, Stolen Generations Victoria, 2007; a Leadership and Mentoring Elders Award, Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited, 2017, and Service to Community Award in 2022 for her work in the Parish of St Martin de Porres and incorporating Aboriginal spirituality into the parish.

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Dr Julie Andrews

Julie is a Yorta Yorta and Woi Wurrung woman with connection to Wirdajuri peoples. She is committed to empowering young Aboriginal people through education and mentoring. Julie is involved in community development and is an anthropologist and has a long connection as a scholar in Aboriginal Studies at Latrobe University. She is Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Studies and Indigenous Strategy Committee for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University.

For over thirty years Julie has been instrumental in developing Aboriginal higher education at La Trobe University’s Bundoora and regional campuses across Victoria. Among her many roles, Julie lectures and researches on Aboriginal community, cultural knowledge, families, identity and self- determination. She is a working party member for the Indigenous Australian Dictionary of Biography project and is a Melbourne Museum Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Council Member, and is involved in the Aurora Education Foundation Internship Program, and has been involved in the North Balwyn Rotary Indigenous higher education scholarships as a mentor.


Jason Kelly

Jason is Mutthi Mutthi and Wamba Wamba man, dedicated to Aboriginal education and Reconciliation. Among his accomplishments, Jason helps to preserve and share Mutthi Mutthi culture and Country and has assisted with cultural artefact preservation at Lake Mungo. Jason has also shared his culture, history and language through the education system and school curriculum. He is currently supporting Aboriginal Students in Victoria as a Koori Education Support Officer.

Jason also passionate about promoting harmony and has worked with Unity Earth which brings together people of different faiths and spiritualities globally. Among many feats, Jason has travelled to Ethiopia, the US and spoken at a convention on Mutthi Mutthi Country, the Country of his ancestors.

Jason is a part of the First Peoples Assembly of Victoria, which is determining the next steps in the Victorian Treaty Process between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians.


Shelley Ware

Shelley is a Yankunytjatjara and Wirangu woman from Adelaide, South Australia. As an Education Specialist, TV Presenter and MC, Shelley is passionate about embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture into classrooms and the national curriculum. She has been a classroom teacher and specialist teacher for more than 20 years and consults and works closely with schools and staff to achieve this. 

Shelley is also well established in AFL journalism and commentary and is well known as part of the show Marngrook. She is currently the host of the webshow Colour of the Jumper and Ware2Now? and she writes a fortnightly AFL column for the Koori Mail. Shelley was named the 2019 Fujitsu General Football Woman of the Year. 

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Pr Gabriell McMullen AM

Gabrielle is a graduate of Monash University and from 1981-1995 was a member of its Faculty of Medicine and also became Dean of its Catholic residence, Mannix College. She was then Rector of Australian Catholic University’s Ballarat campus from 1995-2000 and its Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) until February 2011. In the latter role, her responsibilities  included the University’s Indigenous education and research portfolio.

In 2011-2017 Gabrielle was a Trustee of Mary Aikenhead Ministries. Her other community contributions have encompassed education, health, theology and community service boards and currently include the Councils of the University of Divinity and of PNG’s Divine Word University, President of the Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows, and Chair of Diocese of Sale Catholic Education Ltd and of the Australian Catholic Council for Pastoral Research.

Professor McMullen was awarded Member of the Order of Australia Medal in 2012 and is a Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and a Dame of the Order of Malta. 


Kevin McMahon

Kevin has dedicated his life to teaching, community service, and leadership, as a teacher throughout Melbourne for more than 30 years, Kevin has taught mostly Secondary students. He has been passionate about teaching the importance of giving back and has enable many students to volunteer around Australia, in community and overseas.


Kevin was also a volunteer at the Greensborough branch of St Vincent de Paul for over 30 years, followed by leadership roles in the Diamond Valley region, Northern Central Council, and State Council of St Vincent de Paul including as President of the Council for four years.

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Fr Charles Balnaves

Fr Charles has served the Catholic community of Melbourne since 2012 when he was ordained as a Permanent Deacon. He is currently serving St Kevin’s Parish Templestowe and St Gregory the Great Doncaster as the Parish Priest and is also involved with CatholicCare Victoria’s as Board Member. Fr Charles Balnaves has been a friend and strong advocate of the Foundation for over a decade.
Having completed a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science Fr Charles previously worked in the petroleum industry for 30 years. He has now added a Master of Theological Studies and is strong voice for the Foundation.

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