MDAS meet and greet with new Community Leadership Group

Key item on the agenda for new MDAS Acting CEO

A new Mallee Community Leadership Group established by Aboriginal Victoria and the Department Premier Cabinet has attended a meet and greet lunch with the region’s major Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation, Mallee District Aboriginal Services.
The eight-person leadership group was appointed last month as a measure to increase Aboriginal Community input and voice into reforms at MDAS.
Meeting the group was a key item on the agenda for the new MDAS Acting CEO Jacki Turfrey when she began in her role this week.
The group has two representatives each from Mildura, Swan Hill, Kerang and Robinvale, with most able to attend the luncheon on Thursday with MDAS Chairperson Deb Chaplin, Board Secretary Pam McCormack, Ms Turfrey and MDAS Executive Director Jill Gallagher.
Ms Turfrey said the leadership group had already made a positive contribution by allowing a greater diversity of ideas to be heard.
“My job at this stage is to listen to the voices around me from the community and to take direction from the new board, which will be elected at our AGM on November 28,” Ms Turfrey said.
“It is also critical to stabilise the organisation,” she said.
“There was some frustration in the leadership group about a disconnection between MDAS and communities over the past couple of years, but there was a genuine spirit of wanting to work side-by-side with MDAS – there was a real energy at the table.”
MDAS Chairperson Deb Chaplin said there was a clear sense at the luncheon of “wanting to make it right” for the current generation and future generations. 
“There were lots of comments about wanting to get the community more involved at MDAS, and we are already seeing that in a really positive way, with so many new community members coming forward every day, signing up for membership,” Ms Chaplin said.
“There is a sense that people want to be part of an organisation that is refocussing, so we truthfully reflect the community’s needs, priorities and aspirations,” she said.
“I want to fight for my community. I can see this can work, and it makes me excited.”
Ms Turfrey said MDAS would continue to meet with the leadership group over the next six months.
“I’m confident that working closely with the Mallee Leadership Group will assist in bringing stability to MDAS as an organisation,” she said.
“We have more than 100 new members so far, and counting, and that shows people have an appetite to be involved and to see progress.  It’s a very exciting time for MDAS and for our communities.”
Members of the Mallee Leadership Group are: (Mildura) Rita Chandra and Derick Jones; (Robinvale) Fred Baxter and Rose Kirby; (Swan Hill) Nikita Morganson and Maurice Day; (Kerang) Damien Murray and Steven Hancock.
The final day for membership applications to be lodged for voting rights at the AGM is Wednesday November 11, 2020.  Membership packs are available on the MDAS website, or at any MDAS building.

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MALLEE DISTRICT ABORIGINAL SERVICES  “Our Vision: "Self-determined, healthy, robust and culturally strong Aboriginal communities across the Mallee region."

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