Aboriginal Teaching Assistant Conference 2019


Dr Debra Sayce

Executive Director

Prior to her appointment, Debra was Director of Religious Education at Catholic Education Western Australia, a role in which she was responsible for leading Catholic Identity, religious education and faith formation. A published author and lecturer at Notre Dame University, Debra has extensive experience in the education sector, focused on religious education, health and physical education and biological sciences. She is a member of the CECWA, National Catholic Education Commission, Australian Catholic Disability Council and Catholic Institute of Western Australia.



Dr Graeme Gower

CECWA Commissioner, Chair Aboriginal Community Committee

Dr.Graeme Gower is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at Edith Cowan University. Graeme is a descendant of the Yawuru people of Broome, Western Australia and has been involved in Indigenous education for 38 years, eight years as a primary school teacher and 30 years in higher education.

He is actively involved in teaching and research, and is particularly interested in Indigenous cultural competency and research in Indigenous education, including effective school and community partnerships with Indigenous communities. He is a strong advocate of cultural competency training for researchers who engage in Indigenous research to strengthen ethical practices and effective communication among participants and Indigenous communities. His current research relates to increasing Aboriginal community/student and school engagement, and developing cultural competency among teachers.


Eileen Climo

Director Teaching and Learning

Eileen is an instructional leader who has extensive teaching and leadership experience in schools across three countries.  She has held principalships in both regional and metro schools in WA.  Prior to taking up her current role, she was a School Improvement Advisor with CEWA, leading school improvement initiatives with school leadership teams. As Director Teaching and Learning, she is responsible for providing guidance for schools in the areas of Aboriginal Education, Early Years, Curriculum and Students with Disability.


Sharon Davis

Team Leader Aboriginal Education Team

Sharon Davis is a proud Bardi-Kija woman and the Team Leader for Aboriginal Education at CEWA. The Aboriginal Education Team strive to support Catholic schools to embed culturally responsive school improvement processes that enhance educational experiences for Aboriginal students and their non-Aboriginal peers.

Sharon completed a Bachelor in Education (K-7) specialising in Aboriginal education at the University of Notre Dame Australia, graduating with a number of honours, including the Vice Chancellor’s Medal for the School of Education. Sharon also graduated from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom with a Master of Science in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition.

Sharon has a deep professional and personal commitment to social justice, equity, inclusion, and respect for all.



Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr (AO)

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr (AO) is an Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu (Daly River), where she served for many years as the principal of the local Catholic primary school. She is a renowned artist, activist, writer and public speaker.

In 1975, Miriam became the Territory's first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher, holding the position of Art Consultant with the Professional Services Branch of the Northern Territory Department of Education. During this time she visited schools throughout the Territory thus gaining the opportunity to advance her commitment to the inclusion of visual art as a part of every child's education. In 1993 she became the Principal of one of the schools in Nauiyu. And in 2004 her abilities saw her appointed as a member of the Federal Government’s advisory body, the National Indigenous Council. Her achievements have been recognised in the awarding of an honorary PhD in Education and being made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1998.

View Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr (AO)'s full profile


Dr Richard Walley (OAM)

Richard became involved with Aboriginal politics at an early age, having active involvement in the formation and operation of the Aboriginal Housing Board, the Aboriginal Medical Service, Legal Service and the New Era Aboriginal Fellowship.

Through his involvement, Richard first became aware of the potential of Aboriginal culture to give the Nyoongar people a sense of pride and identity. This awareness grew throughout the years, as Richard ‘learned’ about his own culture, moving into the world of Theatre and the Arts.

View Dr Richard Walley (OAM)'s full profile


Dr Nathan Leber

Nathan Leber is a Justice Educator for Caritas Australia. He has previously lived a 'varied existence' as a professional musician, academic, teacher and deputy principal. His path has not always been straight, but it has been interesting! Nathan is now committed to a life of service within the world, a mission to accompany others on our shared journey of joy and hope, and a passion to find God in all things.

For more than 110 years, Caritas has worked towards the creation of a just world. In 1964, Caritas began in Australia. A Catholic Agency for International Aid and Development, Caritas is Latin for love + compassion – two qualities which are central to our work. Caritas Australia works in partnership with Aboriginal communities to support self-determination and foster Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led solutions.



ATA Conference 2019 nidja boodja wer Whadjuk Noongar moort, wer keyen kaadak Perth Boodja.

ATA Conference 2019 is hosted on the lands of the Whadjuk Noongar people, the first carers of Perth Country.

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