We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Elders, Ancestors and leaders of the Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands ILBIJERRI Theatre Company is based.
We extend this respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, recognising their resilience and ongoing connection to land, water and culture, despite ongoing colonial interruption and genocide.
Always was, always will be, sacred Indigenous land.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be advised that this website may contain images of deceased persons.
ILBIJERRI Theatre Company supports, and is supported by, the leadership of First Peoples based on principles of self-determination. This includes our Elders in Residence, Board of Directors, and our Executive Team.
Vital to the company’s operations is the role of our Elders as cultural authorities and leaders. This ongoing program acknowledges the importance of Elders in our Community as leaders and keepers of culture and knowledge. Our Elders in Residence, N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs and Uncle Larry Walsh, contribute to ILBIJERRI’s strategic, artistic and cultural direction, with a particular focus on nurturing future generations.
As a descendant and Senior Elder of the First Peoples of Melbourne, the Yaluk-ut Weelam Clan of the Boonwurrung language group and the Wamba Wemba of the Murray River, N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM is the Chairperson and Founder of the Boon Wurrung Foundation and Board Member of the Boonwurrung Land and Sea Council.
N’arweet has been involved in developing and supporting opportunities for Indigenous communities throughout Victoria and many other communities around Australia. For over 50 years, she has been proactive in developing strategies for the promotion and maintenance of Boonwurrung culture and heritage. As a result, N’arweet was nominated and appointed as a Member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
In 2006, N’arweet established the Boon Wurrung Foundation, which has been responsible for significant work in cultural research, including the restoration of Boonwurrung language. The Foundation also helps connect Indigenous youth to their heritage through dance, songs, cultural events and mentoring throughout their academic and professional aspirations.
Having undertaken studies in Language and Linguistics, N’arweet has recorded the Boonwurrung language both in oral and written form and completed her Doctorate in Philosophy – Media & Communications – informing culture and knowledge to our urban youth using technology.
Uncle Larry is a local Aboriginal cultural leader and storyteller. He particularly loves working with the younger generation as he sees them as the torch-bearers of the future. Inspired by his local Aboriginal community, plus his own Kulin ancestral blood connections to his Country, Uncle is one of the only senior Elders in Melbourne who focuses specifically on storytelling, ensuring the cultural continuity of his ancient oral traditions.
Uncle Larry is a pure storyteller. He sees his focus being on the oral tradition, the story – as an important expression and make up of Aboriginal culture. He wishes to display that Aboriginal people live as much in the modern world as intimately as they are connected to their past.
ILBIJERRI Theatre Company is a non-distributing co-operative administered in Victoria under the Co-operatives National Law Application Act 2013. Our Board of Directors is made up entirely of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with expertise in law, human resources management, governance, administration, research, theatre, literature, and music. At time of writing, the Board is Chaired by Dr Eugenia Flynn, Brian Bero is Deputy Chair, Dr Suzi Hutchings is Treasurer, Gavin Somers is Secretary, and Glenn Shea and Kareena Gay are Directors.
ILBIJERRI’s Board oversees the vision and strategic direction of the organisation and monitors the Executive Team’s implementation of the vision and policies of the Board. Regular and comprehensive reporting is required for each scheduled meeting and ensures that the Board is informed and can assess the company’s performance against its Strategic Plan.
Eugenia Flynn is an Aboriginal (Larrakia and Tiwi), Chinese Malaysian and Muslim woman who grew up on Kaurna land in Adelaide and now lives and works on Kulin country in Melbourne. Eugenia has extensive experience as an arts worker, producer and community organiser. Within the arts and cultural sector, she has worked with Australia’s national museum of screen culture ACMI, Diversity Arts Australia, Contemporary Arts Precincts (Collingwood Yards), Eleven Collective, Hyphenated Projects, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company, Peril Magazine, Blak Dot Gallery, The Social Studio, and the Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. As part of her community and socially engaged practice, Eugenia works with RISE Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees, the Ebony Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Institute, and ABSTARR Consulting.
As a writer and academic, Eugenia's thoughts on the politics of race, gender and culture have been published widely. Her essays, articles and short stories have been published in IndigenousX, the Guardian Australia, NITV, Peril magazine, the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association blog, The Lifted Brow, and the anthology #MeToo: Stories From the Australian Movement.
Brian is a Meriam man and is passionate about Indigenous self-empowerment and socially responsible economic development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
He is a Co-founder, Principal and Director of Jaramer Legal. Brian is a senior commercial lawyer who has advised State and Federal Governments and large corporations such as Telstra, Oracle and Qantas, as well as Australia’s big banks.
Brian has a broad corporate/commercial practice including advising on complex contract negotiations and agreements, litigation, risk and compliance and regulatory matters, privacy, corporate structure and governance issues, probity matters, strategic government direction, technology matters, international instruments, personal injury, and extensive experience in general procurement matters across many categories of goods and services as well as Federal Government grants.
He is currently a director on the Boards of Ilbijerri Theatre Company and Aboriginal Community Housing Ltd, as well as previously holding directorships with several other not for profit organisations that provide services in social areas that he is passionate about.
Gavin Somers is a proud Butchulla/Gubbi Gubbi man who has been an active part of the ILBIJERRI board since 2010.
An established Aboriginal singer/songwriter, Gavin is also involved in the Victorian arts, music and philanthropy community. Gavin has held positions on a number of government and not-for-profit boards across the state, with formal qualifications in governance and community development, including an Advanced Diploma in Business Governance from Swinburne University.
Gavin is currently the Director of First Nations, Equity and Social Policy at ACMI (formerly the Australian Centre for the Moving Image).
Glenn Shea is an Award winning writer of "Three Magpies Perched in a Tree" and is currently producing "An Indigenous Trilogy".
Glenn is a graduate from NIDA. He is a researcher/curator; his work includes the History of Blak Theatre 1967 – 2000 with a one-year exhibition at the powerhouse museum (Sydney). Glenn is the inventor/facilitator of THE STORYTELLER Australian Board Game Educational Resource, an Indigenous Learning tool which provides knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal people, society and culture from an Indigenous standpoint perspective through active learning pathways. Glenn has also developed and delivered the culture, curriculum and performing arts program through ASPIRE Deakin University and taught at Victoria University and been a guest lecturer at Melbourne University
Glenn is a former frontline Koorie youth justice worker, Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative, he wrote the Wathaurong, full time education and development program as well as a ten-day cultural gathering camp around the boundaries of country for Aboriginal adolescent young people who came into contact with the criminal juvenile justice system.
Glenn is currently writing "Treasuring Life" for the treasuring life suicide prevention network, Mount Gambier as well as a TV series, titled "MULLAGH" about the 1868 Aboriginal cricket team who toured England. Glenn was commissioned by Country Arts SA to write for their Aboriginal Diggers Project, his play MI:WI 3027 was presented in the Raukkan Community Hall on the 23rd April and on ANZAC Day 25th April 2018 in the Dunston Theatre South Australia. Glenn has also been the MC for the Adelaide Festival and the Dream Time @ the G President dinner between Essendon and Richmond Football Clubs at the MCG. He was invited by Playwriting Australia to participate in the 2019 Indigenous Retreat in Bundanon NSW. 2020 credits include MTC Cybec, PWA's Dear Australia and Screen Australia's Indigenous Short Works. Glenn is the Indigenous producer at La Mama Theatre Company.
Kareena Gay is a Senior Legal Policy Officer for the Department of Justice in the Police and Emergency Management division. She is President of Tarwirri, the Indigenous Law Students and Lawyers Association of Victoria (ILSLAV). Kareena was Chair of the ILBIJERRI board until 2021
Suzi Hutchings is a Social Anthropologist and member of the Central Arrernte Nation. She is Associate Professor in Criminology and Justice Studies in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. She teaches Indigenous Studies, Indigenous policy and policy design. Suzi is co-editor of the 2019 publication: Transcontinental Dialogues: Activist Alliances with Indigenous Peoples of Canada, Mexico, and Australia, University of Arizona Press and the upcoming Special Edition Activist Scholarship with First Nations in the Global South for the journal AlterNative.
Suzi’s career is dedicated to working with First Nations. Since 1983, Suzi has consulted on the impacts of criminal justice and welfare intervention on Aboriginal youth and families. As a senior anthropologist she works extensively on native title claims across Australia. She also collaborates with Indigenous young people on music and performance projects. She produced the Indigenous Hip-Hop forum “Tell it like it is” at the Arts Centre, Melbourne. Suzi has also produced and presented music on Community Radio since 2009, and currently produces and hosts the Saturday night music program Subway Sounds on PBS 106.7FM in Melbourne.
Rachael Maza is Yidinji from North Queensland, Meriam from the Torres Strait Island of Mer, and Dutch on her mother’s side. Rachael is Artistic Director of ILBIJERRI Theatre Company (2008 – present) and brings with her a wealth of acting, directing and dramaturgical experience, a significant profile, and a passionate vision for Indigenous theatre.
Rachael is widely known for her wealth of acting, directing, and dramaturgical experience across the Australian film, television and theatre industry. Most notably, the AFI (Australian Film Institute) award-winning Radiance and the stage production of The Sapphires.
A Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) graduate, Rachael’s outstanding performances have been acknowledged with a Green Room Award and a Sydney Theatre Critics Circle Award. Rachael has also worked as a presenter for ABC Message Stick and as an acting coach on films such as the multi-award-winning Rabbit Proof Fence.
Rachael first worked with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company in 2002 as director of Stolen, and in 2008 joined the company as Artistic Director. Since then she has directed Jack Charles V The Crown (2010), Foley (2011), and Which Way Home (2016). Heart is a Wasteland (2021) Co-directing Sisters of Gelam (2009) and Black Ties (2020)
Rachael currently sits on the board of Force Majeure and on ACMI Indigenous Advisory Group.
Rachael’s considerable contribution to the cultural landscape has been recognised through multiple awards, including the Touring Legend Drover Award, 2017, the Inaugural Alumni Graduate Award, Edith Cowan University (2019), and the Australia Council of the Arts Award for Theatre (2019), as well as an Honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts from Edith Cowan University (2019). Recipient of an Order of Australia (2020).
Angela is a Tiwi, Larrakia and Chinese woman, with a wealth of leadership experience across local, national and international arts and culture.
Angela is a highly credentialed arts manager having held pivotal roles at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute and Tarnanthi – Art Gallery of South Australia; Adelaide Festival Centre; and producer for the First Nations Dialogues New York, USA (a First Nations-led gathering of artists, presenters, curators and producers held across various locations). She also has intimate experience within the sector working as an independent producer with First Nations artists and communities to develop and tour new work.
She is currently the Chair of Vitalstatistix and sits on the boards of Carclew and Performing Arts Connections (PAC) Australia.
Angela comes to ILBIJERRI from Arts South Australia where she planned, developed and created the state’s first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Strategy and Implementation Plan.
Darise has a diversity of experience across the corporate, non-profit and government sectors with roles in strategy, business management, banking and financial literacy to name a few.
Five years ago she moved into the arts sector and has never looked back, with arts management roles at the City of Melbourne, Collingwood Yards, YIRRAMBOI First Nations Festival and now ILBIJERRI Theatre Company.
Nina Bonacci is a producer and arts manager with over 20 years of experience. Her role as Head of Producing at ILBIJERRI involves leading, training and mentoring a team of emerging First Nations producers, and working on ILBIJERRI’s large scale and touring productions. Previously, Nina was Company Manager at Malthouse Theatre for several years, where she enjoyed working with some of Australia’s finest artists. Prior to that she produced and toured contemporary Australian productions nationally and internationally while Associate Producer at Performing Lines, including Back to Back Theatre’s small metal objects and Stephen Sewell’s Three Furies. She has worked as an independent producer for many brilliant companies, including Sisters Grimm, Stuck Pigs Squealing, one step at a time like this, Angus Cerini Doubletap and Melinda Hetzel & Co, among others.
Nina has also worked as a Producer at Melbourne International Comedy Festival; Festival Director for Mudfest – Melbourne University’s student arts festival; Producer at Keep Breathing; Administration and Development Coordinator at Arena Theatre Company; Marketing Manager at St Martin’s Youth Arts Centre; and as Publicist at Miranda Brown Publicity, with clients including Big Day Out and Chunky Move.
Nina is a frequent guest speaker for university and TAFE students, has been a Fringe mentor and board member for performing arts companies, and has sat on panels for Performing Lines, Next Wave, George Paton Gallery and the Sydney Opera House. Nina is currently taking part in the Australia Council’s Arts Leader’s Program, and is on the Australia Council’s Peer Assessment Panel.
Kirsty Hillhouse has comprehensive experience across the arts sector, working as an Artistic Director, Ceo, Board Member, Strategic Adviser, Development & Philanthropic Consultant, Performer and Creative Producer. She has established and led independent theatre companies, held senior governance positions in independent and multi-year funded organisations, and consulted for government arts agencies.
Her performance-making career spans over 80 productions nationally and internationally, combining stage and screen performance, with running independent companies. Her practice includes movement design, directing, dramaturgy and performing. She has worked with Legs on the Wall, Bell Shakespeare Co, Sydney Theatre Co, Black Swan State Theatre Co, Deckchair, Perth Theatre Co and others. She was nominated for Best Actress at the Equity Guild Awards for her performance in 'Love' and 'Twelfth Night' (Deckchair Theatre Company) and 'The Return' (Perth Theatre Company), and won an Outstanding Achievement Award (Ensemble) at the WA Screen Awards for her screen performance in The Circuit (SBS / Media World Pictures).
She has been a Board member of Deckchair Theatre Company and Stages Playwriting Consortium and worked with both the Australia Council for the Arts and the Department of Culture and the Arts (WA) in grants assessment and as a strategic consultant.
She is a passionate advocate for financially sustainable arts practice, most recently working with Flinders Quartet, Theatre Works, Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Fringe and Red Stitch Actors Theatre.
Kath comes to us via a partnership between ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and the APAM Office.
Kath is honoured to be working under the leadership of the APAM First Nations Advisory Group to mentor the Associate Producer, First Nations Lead, and to help facilitate the APAM First Nations program.
Since establishing Kath Papas Productions in 2009, Kath’s collaborations with independent artists and companies have focused on intercultural and interdisciplinary performance practices, often with their foundations in dance and theatre. She grounds her practice in our Asia-Pacific region, and has developed and presented performances and co-productions in Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea and China.
Kath produced three editions of the National Dance Forum (2011, 2013, 2015 – the last co-produced with Kristy Ayre), and the Arts Learning Forum (2015, co-produced with Josh Wright), and, for Artistic Merit, was consulting producer for VicHealth’s Arts About Us program. Prior to her full-time producing focus, she was Director/CEO of Ausdance Victoria, leading industry development initiatives and major creative projects for 7 years.
Kath is a current Board member of St Martins Youth Theatre, and was formerly Deputy Chair of Next Wave, and Chair of the Dance Panel of the Green Room Awards.
Laura’s diverse experience developing and delivering social equity-focused programs, traverses the arts, community, government, and social innovation spaces. Laura loves producing, amplifying the work of others, and bringing creative vision to life. She is thrilled to be working for ILBIJERRI to bring social impact focused performances to communities.
Laura worked at Big hART as National Producer and Producer of the multi-artform Yijala Yala Project, a suite of creative programs with Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi communities, including the Australian tour of theatre production Hipbone Sticking Out.
Laura is also a gender specialist, having worked with social change think tank Criterion Institute as a Gender Equity and Systems Change Advisor and Program Manager, delivering gender equality analysis, strategies, and training for partner organisations.
Laura has also worked as an event manager, project manager, strategic advisor, relationship manager, and community engagement and communications professional in a range of organisations including Australia Council for the Arts, Impact Investment Summit Asia Pacific, and Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity, a fellowship program at The University of Melbourne for Indigenous-led social change.
Laura is passionate about working collaboratively and placing community at the centre of decision making. She is also an advisor to the board of Nightingale Housing and has a woodworking practice making furniture from recycled and reclaimed timber.
Alexandra is a Taungurung woman, growing up in the northern suburbs on Wurundjeri Land, and has been involved in the arts, theatre and creative sector for over 15 years. Previously working for Darebin City Council and Taungurung Land and Water Council, Alexandra has collaborated with First Nations artists and organisations throughout Victoria. Alexandra was an Associate Producer with Darebin City Council, assisting in large scale events including Ganbu Gulin, Kite Festival, FUSE Festival, International Women’s Day, National Sorry Day, NAIDOC Week and was contracted from City of Melbourne to work for Yirramboi Festival 2021. During her time with Darebin City Council and Taungurung Land and Water Council, Alexandra was a member of the Aboriginal Advisory Committee and the Language Reference Group Committee. Alexandra is now a Producer with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company and will be taking lead on certain tours and productions.
Joel Stevens is a proud Māori (Ngati Maniapoto) man from Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Over his career he has gained a wealth of experience across various creative and education fields with a focus on and passion for Indigenous storytelling, which has seen him work internationally with communities across the Pacific and Canada. Joel has come to ILBIJERRI from the advertising industry, where he was the production lead for We Are Warriors; a platform built to celebrate blak excellence and provide future pathways for Aboriginal & Torres Strait islands youth. Outside of his work as a producer Joel is an avid book reader, tri-lingual and a multi-instrumentalist songwriter.
Amy Sole is a proud Wiradjuri/Worimi person. Amy is a director, playwright, actor, dramaturg, producer and advocate. They are a current graduate of the MFA (Directing) at NIDA, and hold a Master of Theatre (Playwriting) from VCA, and an Advanced Diploma in Acting at AFTT.
Recent works for theatre include Burning (writer/director, NIDA, 2022), Nan's Place (writer, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company as part of Blackwrights, 2020-21), Doing (writer/director, Kings Cross Theatre, 2019).
Amy has worked as assistant director on productions of God's Country (NIDA, 2022), Metamorphoses (NIDA, 2021), RENT (Sydney Opera House, 2021). Amy regularly directs developments of new works at Darlinghurst Theatre Company, including Dylan Van Den Berg's Way Back When in 2020. Amy has worked in various roles at Queensland Theatre Company, Moogahlin Performing Arts, Hayes Theatre Co, and Playwriting Australia including production, dramaturgy, and consulting. They are currently Creative Director of Big Blak Bang, a festival of First Nations storytelling and Artist-in-Residence at Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Co-Founder of Puddle or Pond Theatre Company, and a sitting Co-Chair of the Equity Diversity Committee.
Theodore Cassady who stems from the Munanjali/Butchulla peoples in Beaudesert and Harvey Bay/K'Gari regions in Queensland has been working as a Naarm based independent artist trained in contemporary dance and ballet. He attended the Adelaide College of the Arts and completed training in 2016, working with a number of national and international choreographers including Leigh Warren, Larissa McGowan, Peter Sheedy and Lewis Major.
Theodore choreographed for the Adelaide Fringe Festival in 2016 and worked with many esteemed choreographers in the Blak space over the years.
He worked as a flight attendant for Virgin Australia for two years before returning to the dance industry when relocating to Naarm in 2020.
As a Naarm based artist, he interned with Stephanie Lake Company for their development of Manifesto, worked as swing performer for Joel Bray's Considerable Sexual License and performed at Dancehouse for Ngioka Bunda-Heath’s Bridge.
Most recently, Theo worked as Company Manager for Ilbijerri's regional tour of The Score, directed by Kamarra Bell-Wykes and now looks forward to starting his producing career with Ilbijerri as Associate Producer.
Mayella Koroi is not only a highly skilled producer for ILBIJERRI working predominantly on the APAM partnership alongside Kath Pappas, but is also a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, who performed on tour with Black Ties.
The industry has allowed her to draw on her 18+ years of experience to work alongside numerous community initiatives delivering development workshops and mentoring programs such as the Human initiative - Creative Tracks. Creative inspirations for program development are heavily influenced by her Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Malay, Dutch-Indonesian and German cultural roots.
She is a firm believer in using her past and present experiences to propel her towards future endeavours.
Natasha is a proud Djaara/Dja Dja Wurrung, Yorta-Yorta and Jaru woman who currently lives on Wurundjeri country.
When she is not organising the ILBIJERRI team administration, or fulfilling critical marketing needs for the organisation, Natasha is a visual artist who loves to marry together the art styles of her culture with high colour modern art mediums and elements.
Natasha is deeply connected to and has worked with the DJAARA – Balaki Wuka (Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation) on the YAPENYA 2018 event as Project Officer. She was also co-curator for an exhibition accompanying artist Peta Clancy's Undercurrent at Bendigo Art Gallery. Other works include the exterior artwork for Bendigo’s Galkangu GovHub building, Bendigo’s City of Gastronomy UNESCO logo design, vibrant murals for Daylesford Primary School and Quarry Hill Primary School, external artwork of the DJAARA talking tram no. 918, and even a metal sculpture of Bunjil for the children of Spring Gully Kinder. She continues to work on commissions of her own work for clients such as local government and councils, as well as the corporate and private sector.
Kalarni Murray is a proud Anaiwan and Barkindji woman. She is a creator and storyteller who uses everything she knows and continues to learn, to get her stories to the world, whether it be through writing, song, poetry, visual art, acting, and dancing. Kalarni is undertaking postgraduate study in Indigenous Research, where she is looking at the stories of Dystopia in Science Fiction through a First Nations lense and combines this knowledge with her experiences as an artist, her studies through Anthropology, Creative Writing, Acting, 3D Art and Animation, and understanding of colonisation.
Her previous work with ILBIJERRI includes participating in the ILBIJERRI ENSEMBLE, performing in Seven Stages of Grieving, Conversations with the Dead and History Salon, and directing 10 in 10 new playwrights festival. During her time with BLACKSTAGE she will be mentored in lighting design, directing and stage management.
Kalarni's goals are to change the world's thoughts on First Nations Australians, shift the idea of what academic writing looks like, and incorporate visual art, stories and poetry into her research.