Meet The team

Office of the CEO

Photo of Karl Briscoe

KARL BRISCOE

Chief Executive Officer

Karl Briscoe is a proud Kuku Yalanji man from Mossman – Daintree area of Far North Queensland and has worked for over 18 years in the health sector at various levels of government and non-government including local, state and national levels which has enabled him to form a vast strategic network across Australia.

Karl has taken up the position as the Chief Executive Officer of NAATSIHWP to progress and represent the invested interests of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners.

Previous to NAATSIHWP Karl was the Clinical Services Manager at the Galambila Aboriginal Health Service in Coffs Harbour. He has a vast array of experience at Senior Executive levels including previous positions as the Executive Director of Indigenous Health and Outreach Services in Cape York and Torres Strait Hospital and Health Service, which provided the skills and knowledge to coordinate strategic intent to address the health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

 Karl commenced his career in health when he completed an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Worker traineeship with Queensland Health in Mossman Community Health where he progressed to the Senior Health Worker role, Principal Policy along with Partnership Management positions.  He completed the Primary Health Care training up to the Advanced Diploma and then went on to complete a Masters of Public Health, Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management, Diploma in Practice Management, MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class Programand more recently enrolled in the Masters of Indigenous Business Leadership.

 Karl’s vision for his people is to see dramatic improvement in the premature mortality rates of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, not only in communities but the entire nation, ensuring the life expectancy rates of our people are equivalent or better than that of non-Indigenous Australians.

Photo of Grace Lachica

GRACE LACHICA

Executive Support Officer

Prior to joining NAATSIHWP, Grace spent more than a decade working in luxury 5-star hotel chains managing the Reservations, Revenue and Distribution Management teams. 

She joined the team in April 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, a memorable start to mark her entry into the world of not-for-profit sector. While she enjoyed the challenges and successes of working in the hospitality industry, she always felt the need to serve a cause bigger than herself. She is grateful and honoured to have been given the opportunity to achieve a sense of purpose and find fulfilment in her work by providing executive support to an organisation that works hard to close the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. 

Policy, Projects and Research

Photo of Jodie Dennis

JODIE DENNIS

Manager - Policy, Projects and Research

Jodie has had a diverse career and held roles in a number of government agencies including Centrelink, the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the National Museum of Australia and the Department of Health.  

Through spending much of her career working with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, she has been fortunate to have had the opportunity to contribute to a range of national and local initiatives, and developed expertise across policy development, program management and service delivery.

Jodie joined NAATSIHWP in February 2020 and is looking forward to supporting the team to strengthen the capacity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker and Health Practitioner workforce; address Indigenous health inequity and disadvantage and demonstrate the benefits of community control and self-determination.

Photo of Kirrilaa Johnstone

KIRRILAA JOHNSTONE

Policy Officer

Kirrilaa is a proud Ngiyampaa Barkindji Woman from far West NSW. A recent university graduate in Public Health, Kirrilaa is committed to system reform in the health care sector to better resource and support our communities in improving health and wellbeing outcomes. Particularly through supporting the emerging work force as they engage in training. 

Kirrilaa has spent the last five years actively engaging in the not-for-profit health sector with leadership opportunities and professional development. Through this she has gained a broad range of knowledge and experiences in organisation governance, both community controlled health services and the mainstream health system, as well as government health policy and its impacts in our communities.

Executive Services

Photo of Jim Castro

JIM CASTRO

Manager - Executive Services

Born in Queensland before moving to Sydney with family. The authorities of the day intervened in my life with me ending up being a Ward-of-the-State. While no doubt I lost a lot, things could have been worse.

I had a good Catholic School education in Hunters Hill and Balmain. Growing up, my adopted mother always said, “When you leave school you are to become a tradesman.” True to her word she organized it not far from home. A fitter and turner no less. Dare I say it, in the footsteps of one Charles Perkins. Far too big a man for me to follow all the way. A bit later I went back to College to study engineering. This led to me coming to Canberra to work at the Tidbinbilla Tracking Station. A great job with a few perks – free travel to work and a subsidized canteen. After a few years, a number of us were consolidated in premises in Fyshwick, the industrial area of Canberra. There, I came across my first public servant. The big boss Charlie. While he did not employ me, he had oversight of the organization that did. I said to Charlie one day, “I would like more money”. “What’s your degree?”, he asked. “None” was my response. “Come back when you have one”.

It was at the then College of Advanced Education, now University of Canberra, that my lecturer in public policy asked why I was not with the relatively new Aboriginal Development Commission. After spending some time with Kumaji Bourke, the Manager, as his HR offside, I was offered a job. The start of many a year in Indigenous affairs. The Commission, Aboriginal Hostels Limited, on secondment to Australian Government Department of Finance and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I then moved over to the Australian Department of Education, Employment and training, as it was then called. There has been as many changes as ministers. Well that’s how it seemed.

I have worked in many Indigenous education areas and on many programs, almost from the beginning of IESIP, the Indigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Program. The one to bring about educational equality by 2000. In more recent times, I am part of an Indigenous working party providing advice and input to the ACT government on mental health and related matters. This is a part time, voluntary endeavor.

Since January 2021, I have been with NAATSIHWP. It is an eye opener and I am amazed at the amount of work it achieved during the last reporting period of six months that ended December 2020.

Photo of Elizabeth Policarpio

ELIZABETH POLICARPIO

Senior Finance Officer

Elizabeth was born in the province of Camarines Norte, the northern part of Bicol Region in the Philippines. She studied her degree at the University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City and later moved to Manila to prepare for her Certified Public Account (CPA) Board examination. After passing the Board Exams, she got her first job working in a small bank and 3 months later moved on to work for a bigger bank where she worked for 13 years.  

Her family moved to Canberra, Australia in 2006 and she got her first job at the Tenants’ Union ACT as a part- time bookkeeper, then later, worked as a full-time employee as a Finance Manager at various non-profit organisations. She gained her CPA designation in December 2016.  

She has met a lot of amazing people and learned so much from the organisations she has worked in. She worked with industries providing tenants advisory service, community housing, first aid training, services and products and aged care. She is always reflecting on what her purpose is for working in an organisation and she likes waking up in the morning with the motivation that she will be able to share and utilise her skills supporting organisations in building community resilience, creating big positive impact on the lives of people and not so much focus on making profits (but still in the black). 

This is her first time to work for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation and she is in awe of the programs the organisation has achieved for the members. They still have a long way to go and she is honoured to be part of it.

Photo of Robyn Dass

ROBYN DASS

Administrative Assistance Officer

Robyn believes she is of Guugu Yimithirr heritage from the Cooktown/Hopevale area in Far North Queensland. Growing up in and around Babinda/Innisfail area and completing her schooling to Year 10 at the Innisfail State High School, where she lived after her mother passed.

After owning and operating a prawn trawler in FNQ, Robyn and her husband decided to head south, to Canberra to begin her public service career. Since 198,7 the majority of her work has been in the Indigenous Education arena from Pre-school to University. She also worked in Indigenous housing, hostels, community libraries and training at the Local, State & Commonwealth levels. During her time with the Commonwealth Public Service doing management roles, she knew she had to follow her path to ensure that her people were given the best possible representation to further their educational and academic pathways. It wasn’t always easy, trying to convince the Government hierarch, however as the Regional Manager for the Department of Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (DEETYA) / the Department of Education Science and Training (DEST) in Cairns, she finally made her mark. She was awarded the Inaugural NAIDOC award for DEETYA, then in 2003, thinking outside the square and working closely with Education Queensland and the Community she was awarded her Public Service Medal for the delivery of Indigenous programs.  

Robyn has retired three times, but always comes back to work, for and with her Indigenous and non-Indigenous counterparts, joining NAATSIHWP in July 2021 as a part-time employee. Robyn is pursuing her hobby of sewing, maintain her connections to Country, where she made many long-term friends and trying to trace her family history.. 

Professional Development

Photo of James Harris

JAMES HARRIS

Manager - Professional Development

James grew up in Roleystone (Noongar Boodja (land) of the Whadjuk people) Western Australia and has spent the majority of his working career within the Aboriginal Health Sector.

Graduating as a Registered Nurse in 2004, James worked as a Community Nurse in a variety of sectors before working as a Clinic Nurse at ATSICHS Brisbane. He returned to Perth and took up a role at Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service as a Clinic Nurse before starting his career at the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia as a clinical trainer. James has delivered a number of training programs over his years at AHCWA before progressing to becoming the Workforce Development Manager, overseeing the implementation and facilitation of the day to day running of the Registered Training Organisation and Health Programs whilst also providing support to AHCWA’s 22 member services. He also sat on a number of national advisory committees; reviewing training packages, resources and supporting changes to State legislations to recognise the role of the Aboriginal Health Worker and Practitioner.

James’s work with Community Skills WA facilitated the development of a report to the State Training Board highlighting current workforce barriers to attraction and retention within the Aboriginal Workforce Sector. Key recommendations from the report highlighted the importance of the VET training sector to support the development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing workforce through the development of new training packages, reduced course fees and additional support to the sector.

James joined NAATSIHWP in February 2021 and is eager to utilise his knowledge and networks to contribute to the success of NAATSIHWP and its members.

Photo of Shayne Stronach

SHAYNE STRONACH

Membership Support Officer

Shayne has always worked in the Customer Care field. Predominantly working in Hospitality, Travel and Tourism. He studied Auslan to become a Sign Language Interpreter, later working in the Disability field. Shayne moved to Canberra from Perth for an amazing opportunity with Aboriginal Hostels Ltd. as the National Coordinator of Frontline Services where he really got to use his analytical skills and found his niche.

However, this was short lived when AHL decided to dissolve the Frontline Services Team. After 5 months in Canberra he joined NAATSIHWP in late 2018 with an even better opportunity as the Membership Officer. He deals with members on a daily basis and supports their needs as part of the broader secretariat. His passion is for people which is perfect as he gets to engage with members CEOs, Doctors, Nurses and Midwives, Lecturers, other Allied Health Workers and countless others from the Health Sector at the many conferences and networking events each year. It is during these events that he totally shines being able to raise the voice of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners. He gets to spread the word of what they do and who they are in order to increase understanding of their role in the hope that they can be better appreciated and better utilised and off course tout the many benefits of becoming a member. Shayne also works arm in arm with his amazing Professional Development Manager to provide support at the 9 Professional Development Forums that NAATSIHWP provide each year.

He has seen NAATSIHWP achieve so much including the change of name to incorporate Practitioners, creating swifter processes with electronic documents and changes to the way we now deliver our Forums. Shayne loves putting his members name to a face at events and looks forward to meeting you.

Photo of Renae Kilmister

RENAE KILMISTER

Media Officer

Renae has been a part of the NAATSIHWP Team since April 2016. Renae’s passion is for people and enjoys building relationships and communicating with members and stakeholders. Being the Media Officer means she is able to travel to regional forums and conferences to communicate face to face, as well as interact via social media with members and affiliated organisations.

Renae uses her skills as a professional freelance photographer to capture Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Health Practitioners in a series of powerful images which have been used for social media and also a nationally recognised exhibition called “Unsung Heroes” which was featured on NITV News and The Point.

Renae came to NAATSIHWP from Diabetes ACT where she began her journey in the not-for-profit health sector as the Fundraising Coordinator, which then led to a position as Health Administrator. She is now able to combine all of those skills in her role at NAATSIHWP and is thoroughly enjoying working with such an incredible team.