Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership Portfolio Staff

Professor Michelle Trudgett

Deputy Vice Chancellor Indigenous Leadership

Professor Michelle Trudgett is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership at Western Sydney University. Prior to this role she held the position Pro Vice-Chancellor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, Strategy and Consultation at Western Sydney University.  She is an eminent higher education leader who has also held senior positions at the University of Technology Sydney and Macquarie University. Professor Trudgett’s significant contributions to the sector have been recognised through several awards including the highly prestigious National NAIDOC Scholar of the Year Award, the Neville Bonner Award for Teaching Excellence, and the University of New England Distinguished Alumni Award.

Professor Trudgett currently serves as the inaugural Chair of the New South Wales Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Committee and Deputy Chair of the inaugural Universities Australia Prov/Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Committee. She has also provided leadership to the Australian Research Council as the Chair of the Indigenous committee that advised on the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) and the Engagement and Impact (EI)Review.Professor Trudgett has been a Chief Investigator (CI) on four Australian Research Council grants, three as the lead CI, which equate to $4,189,000 in funding. She has developed an international reputation as a leading Indigenous Australian scholar whose research provides considerable insight into Indigenous participation in higher education, with a specific focus on the postgraduate sector. Professor Trudgett is currently leading two ARC projects - one will reshape the way universities currently 'do business' with Indigenous Australians through focusing on Indigenous leadership and governance in higher education, whilst the other investigates how the sector can best support and develop Indigenous early career researchers.

Professor Trudgett is a recognised strategic thinker who adopts a highly collegial approach to achieve positive outcomes for the higher education sector. She is particularly passionate about leading strategic initiatives that empower Indigenous people and communities.


Aunty Jean

Aunty Jean has been at Western Sydney University for over 30 years. In various roles supporting students and staff and was a student herself completing a Visual Arts Degree. Like many Indigeouns students she was the first in her family to go to University. This education opened the door to becoming a Student Support Officer sharing her understanding and experiences on the pathways to gaining a Degree.

"I’ve met hundreds of students over the years and seen them grow and change from first year through to Graduation, then moving into employment as empowered Aboriginal people innovators like myself giving back to our community."

Aunty Jean's current position, Elder in Residence, was created and developed at Western Sydney University. The framework used when developing the position has been shared leading to other Elder in Residences positions. (Shah, 2016)

"My Goal has to simply keep moving forward progressing to the next level collaborating with others developing initiatives to encourage Indigenous students and staff to thrive within our universities Nationally and Internationally, sharing knowledge and forming alliances with Indigenous peoples with respect for Elders immemorial, prevailing and anticipated."


Professor Susan Page

Professor Susan Page is an Aboriginal Australian academic whose research focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experience of learning and academic work in higher education and student learning in Indigenous Studies. Susan is currently Director of Indigenous Learning and Teaching at Western Sydney University. She has held a number of Indigenous Higher Education leadership positions and she has lead a university-wide Indigenous graduate attribute project (UTS). Susan has collaborated on several competitive research grants, has received a national award for Excellence in Teaching (Neville Bonner Award) and is well published in Indigenous Higher Education.  


Professor Gawaian Bodkin-Andrews

Professor Gawaian Bodkin-Andrews is a D’harawal man raised on Bidigal (bitter water) and Nattaimattagal (sweet water) Country. As a scholar, Prof Bodkin-Andrews’ research encapsulates and promotes Aboriginal Australian standpoints and perspectives across a diversity of disciplines (most notably education and psychology). He has been a chief investigator for numerous research grants examining a diversity of topics including, mental health, mentoring, identity, Traditional Knowledges and Storytelling, Indigenous-centered statistics, education, racism, and bullying. He has over 60 refereed publications (including two edited books), and supervised to completion six PhD students (three Aboriginal Australian). He has also represented university and community organisations on a range of Indigenous initiatives, including the 2018 ARC ERA evaluation, the 2021 ARC college of experts, the Steering Commitee for the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children, the Indigenous Working Group for the ARC Engagement and Impact review, National Indigenous Researchers and Knowledge Holders Network, assisting the D'harawal Traditional Descendants and Knowledge Holders Circle with a range of community activities (e.g., Two cultures martial arts, Indigenous medicinal gardens, local government negotiations and development), and developing university responses to the revised AIATSIS code of ethics, the ANZRC Review. In addition, he is currently a member of Maiam nayri Wingara Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Sovereignty Group, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, the D’harawal Traditional Descendants and Knowledge Holders Circle, and Pak Hok Pai (White Crane Kung Fu) Australia Incorporated. 

Dr Michelle Locke

Dr Michelle Locke is a proud Dharug woman and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Western Sydney. Michelle is currently engaged in the Developing Indigenous Early Career Researchers ARC Project with Professor Michelle Trudgett, Professor Susan Page and Dr Rhonda Povey. Michelle’s thesis, Yanna Jannawi: Walk with Me. Centering Indigenous Ways of Knowing in Early Education and Care Services was conferred in January 2021by the University of Technology Sydney.

Stacey Coates

Stacey is a proud Wiradjuri woman, highly motivated to further her career in the area of educational research, focusing on increasing educational opportunities and long-term advancement of Indigenous people. Stacey is currently completing her PhD at Western Sydney University, where she is examining synergies between the governance structures within Australian universities, Indigenous leadership and outcomes in relation to Indigenous Higher Education. As a passionate Indigenous educator, Stacey aims to facilitate the capacity to build and promote strong foundations for lasting positive change.

Stacey previously worked in the field of child welfare, before moving into the teaching realm. Stacey completed her Bachelor of Social Science, majoring in Psychology in 2008. Stacey went on to further her studies and in 2014 she was awarded her Master of Teaching (Primary). 

In addition to completing her PhD, Stacey is campaigning for the introduction of mandatory biennial ‘Indigenous Histories’ training for Public School Teachers. Stacey has termed the concept ‘Educate the Educators’. Ultimately, Stacey aims to facilitate the capacity to build and promote strong foundations for lasting positive change. 

Dr Rhonda Povey

Dr Rhonda Povey currently lives and works on Dharug land and she has extensive experience working and researching in the field of Indigenous education. Her particular area of interest is related to the delivery of Western education to Aboriginal students in remote areas of Australia, especially during the spread of the cattle industry onto traditional lands. Rhonda hopes her work will significantly contribute to the body of knowledge decolonising Aboriginal education in remote contexts. Rhonda is currently working as a researcher on the Walan Mayiny: Indigenous Leadership in Higher Education project. 


Kavita Karan

Kavita Karan is Executive Assistant to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership. Kavita graduated from WSU with a Master’s in Business & Commerce in 2016 and has been working at WSU since 2018.

Prior to this Kavita worked at Catholic Healthcare as Executive Support. She is also currently enrolled in Masters in Project Management at WSU and has is a professional member with International Centre for Complex Project Management. Her interests are reading, cycling, cooking.

Matilda Harry

Matilda Harry is a proud Wiradjuri woman, is the Media Officer in the Office of Deputy Vice Chancellor Indigenous Leadership at Western Sydney University. In this role, Matilda advocates for and celebrates the significant achievements and successes of Western Sydney University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, staff, researchers, alumni, and Elders. She has produced social media strategies, video content and written five editions of The Yarning Circle. Personally, she is devoted to increasing the educational opportunities and independence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities across health, employment, policy, and reform sectors. She is a high achieving PhD candidate at Western Sydney University undertaking research to empower and make meaningful change for all Australians, particularly First Nations communities. Matilda's ongoing involvement with First Nations communities has led her to work in grassroots and peak body initiatives and institutions across local, state, and national platforms.  

Dimity Cocker

Dimity Cocker is the Project Support Officer for the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor Indigenous Leadership. She is a Western Alumni graduating with a Masters in Business Administration and has tertiary qualifications in Science, Accounting and Project Management. A member of International Centre for Complex Project, currently undertaking a Diploma in Project Management through AIM, Australian Institute of Management. Prior to joining the university, Dimity had proven success as an Operations Manager in a high level service industry, exceeding client expectations with timely delivery and effective use of resources for which she has won several awards internationally.

Crystal McDermid

Crystal McDermid is a proud Aboriginal woman living and working on Darug country. Crystal started with Western Sydney University in 2008 through the Indigenous Traineeship Program, where she began working in the School of Management. Since graduating from the Traineeship Program, Crystal has worked in various offices throughout the University, including the Office of the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Western Sydney International. Her current role is Senior Administration Officer working within the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor Indigenous Leadership supporting the Director of Indigenous Research and Director of Indigenous Learning and Teaching. Crystal has experience in executive support, event management and stakeholder management.


Lazarus Brown

Lazarus Brown is a proud Aboriginal man with family ties to the Gumbaynggirr people on the mid-north coast of NSW and also the Arrernte people of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Lazarus currently holds the position of Indigenous Employment Coordinator at Western Sydney University and sits in the Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, Strategy and Consultation. Prior to this position he has worked in secondary education as a mentor to Indigenous students and more recently as an Indigenous employment caseworker within the employment services sector. Lazarus is pleased to now have the opportunity to be employed at Western Sydney University as a professional staff member, having completed a Bachelor of Health Science (PDHPE) degree back in 2016. 

Terri Keating

Terri Keating is a proud Wiradjuri woman from Narromine, NSW and a Community Engagement Officer with the Office of Deputy Vice Chancellor Indigenous Leadership and is located at the Kingswood Campus.


Fiona Towney

Fiona Towney is a proud Wiradjuri woman from Central-West NSW.

Fiona’s first employment was with the Commonwealth Bank, where she worked for 15 years.  At the time of her resignation, Fiona was an Assistant Manager on the Commonwealth Bank IT Helpdesk.  Fiona then gained employment with the NSW Department of Education where she worked for 25 years, moving through a variety of project-based and team management roles within the HR space. 

Fiona joined WSU in September 2018.  As Director of the Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education, Fiona is responsible for the provision and implementation of education and support services for Western’s Indigenous Australian students.  A member of the University’s senior team, she contributes to policy and strategic organisational direction and provides advice and leadership, always working to increasing student outcomes. Fiona holds tertiary qualifications in Human Resource Management and Project Management.

Josh Mason

Josh Mason is a proud Wiradjuri man who has worked at Western Sydney University since 2010. He holds the position of  Academic Literacy and Learning Advisor within the Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education and looks after the Tutoring For Success Program which  offers our eligible Indigenous students free tuition support throughout their degree. Josh considers himself extremely lucky to be part of the amazing work our university is doing for our Indigenous students, staff and community, and enjoys playing a role in securing success for our people. 

Kerry Licastro

Kerry Licastro is a proud Kamiliaroi and Wakka Wakka woman. Kerry was born and raised on Eora lands in Sydney and now lives and raising her  family on Dharug lands in Western Sydney.Kerry has a very strong Indigenous lineage that incorporates both Australian Aboriginal heritage and Native American heritage with ancestral connections to the Wompanoag nation through her grandmother on hermother’s side. Kerry has worked at WSU and in the Badanami Centre since 2013, having held multiple roles. Kerry has  been in her current role as Student Success Officer since 2015 and love supporting and advocating for our students. 

Lee Hinton

Lee Hinton is  a proud Wonnarua and Kamillaroi man, who has resided on Dharug country all his life. Lee has extensive experience in the corporate world; focusing on Indigenous Employment, Training and Development.   While being a pro-active member of the Wonnarua Community, where he is the Chairman of Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation. Lee is extremely passionate about sports. He is driven to help First Nations Australians succeed in whatever field they choose, to rise up and take our rightful place, leading the world.

Tiah Vocale

Tiah Vocale is a proud Gunai/Monaro woman originally from Victoria with family ties to Cooma, NSW – Ngarigo Country and Lake Tyres Mission, East Gippsland -Kurnai country. Tiah graduated in 2019 from The University of Melbourne with Bachelor of Arts with majors in Anthropology and Indigenous studies. Tiah is  a Badanami Student Success Officer based at Parramatta South Campus and Milperra- Bankstown campus. She commenced  working with Western in 2019. 

Kristy Bell

Kristy Bell is  a proud Wiradjuri women born in Dubbo and lives in the Camden area.Kristy has been working at Western for over 10 years and moved over from the engagement team 2 year ago into the Student support role in Badanami.Kristy takes pride in her role and supporting our mob to achieve their educational goals for their future and loves being able to build strong relationships with students and our Western community.

Chantelle Khamchuang

Chantelle is a proud Aboriginal woman from the Boorooberongal tribe of the Darug nation. She is a PhD candidate in the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour, and Development. Chantelle has completed a Bachelor of Arts – Pathways to Primary Teaching, a postgraduate degree in Australian Migration Law, and a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours). Chantelle currently works in the Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education at Western Sydney University as a Student Success Officer.