NAIDOC SA Ambassadors and Patrons


  • Uncle Lewis O'Brien
  • Aunty Josie Agius
  • Aunty Alitja Rigney


2018 NAIDOC SA Ambassadors

  • Pat Waria-Read
  • Roger Thomas
  • Eunice Aston
  • Frank Wanganeen


NAIDOC SA Ambassador biographies

Sharon Gollan 2015

Aunty Sharon is a respected Ngarrindjeri academic with over 30 years professional experience in community services. She is sought after for her Cultural Respect workshops that build respectful partnerships between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Australians.


Frank Lampard OAM 2013, 2014, 2015

Frank is of Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna descent, was a primary school teacher for more than 30 years before holding several senior roles in the public service, including as the Acting Chief Executive of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Executive Director of the Aboriginal Prisoners and Offenders Support Services Incorporated.

He has also served on several advisory and government bodies and is currently the Deputy Chair of the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander War Memorial Committee. Mr Lampard has received numerous awards and recognition, including an Order of Australia medal and the National NAIDOC Elder of the Year Award. He is passionate about retaining Aboriginal languages and culture in schools and the tertiary sector, and has demonstrated a strong commitment to the wellbeing of Aboriginal people in South Australia.


Professor Roger Thomas 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018

Roger Thomas is an Aboriginal man whose parents came from Pt Augusta and Ceduna and is from Wirungu / Kookatha clans of South Australia. Roger has over 23 years experience in the SA Public Service and since leaving there he has continued to work in the Aboriginal Higher Education Sector, including being Managing director of Puldamurra TAFE College in Western Australia. Roger is currently the Professor of Indigenous Engagement and Adjunct Professor of Education at the University of Adelaide and also the Director of the Centre of Australian Indigenous Research and Studies - Wilto Yerlo / CASM.
Roger is currently Chairperson of the Federal Governments Ministerial Advisory Council on Indigenous Higher Education and also a member of the World Indigenous Higher Education Committee whose agenda's deal with Indigenous higher education on a global basis. Roger also holds the position of Dean - Wilto Yerlo, University of Adelaide.


Dr Alitya Rigney 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012

Aboriginal Elder Dr Alitya Rigney is a 30-year veteran of education in South Australia. Starting out as a teachers' aide in 1967, Alitja retired as principal of Kaurna Plains School in 1997 with an honorary doctorate from the University of South Australia and a string of awards and achievements to her name.
Alitya grew up in a mission on the Yorke Peninsula during the 1940s. Having completed high school, Alitja set about thinking what she might do for a career. Surprisingly, teaching hadn't even occurred to her. "I wanted to be a doctor, but my school counsellor didn't think an Aboriginal female would be able to achieve in that area at the time. I had role models who were nurses, though - people like Lowitja O'Donoghue and Audrey Kinnear. So I became a nurse." After nursing for a while, Alitja returned to her community and had her first child. This is when she began working as a teachers' aide in mission schools around the area. Realising she had what it took to be a teacher, Alitya obtained a Diploma of Education from the University of South Australia and was quickly snapped up by a mainstream primary school.

In 1985 Alitya became the first Aboriginal person to join the professional ranks of the South Australian Department of Education. The following year she became the first female Aboriginal principal in Australia when she was appointed head of Kaurna Plains School. Since then, Alitja has been teaching, mentoring and, most importantly, inspiring young minds on the traditional lands of her people, and beyond.


Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O'Brien 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015

Known as Uncle Lewis to all - but particularly by our Indigenous communities of South Australia and Australia, Lewis is an esteemed Aboriginal Elder. He was born in Narannga country on Yorke Peninsula in 1930 and brought up at Point Pearce.
Lewis originally trained, and then worked as a Fitter and Machinist for thirty years - including some years seeing the world as a Ship’s Engineer. He became involved in many of the early political actions of our Aboriginal community – most particularly the Aboriginal Advancement League from the 1960’s onwards and our first Aboriginal Community Centre.
He continued to be involved in Aboriginal community interests, exerting influence on:
South Australian Heritage committees,the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, SA Jubilee 150 committees, The Aboriginal Council of South Australia and SA Aboriginal Sports and Recreation committees.
In 1977 he joined the South Australian Education Department as an Aboriginal Education Liaison Officer. From that time to today there is hardly a sector of Aboriginal Education and Training in this state that he has not been involved in developing.


David Rathman 2013, 2014, 2015

David Rathman was born and raised in the city of Port Augusta, South Australia. He attended Port Augusta West primary school, Port Augusta High School and graduated in 1985 from the College of Advanced Education as well as studying in Israel in 1985.

Mr Rathman has worked as a commercial radio announcer with 5AU, Program manager at the Herald and Weekly times, Riverland Radio station, Aboriginal Community Worker for the Department for Community Welfare at Berri and Gerard, Electoral liaison officer with the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Senior Aboriginal Community worker in the far north, West Coast and eastern areas of the State, Social planner to assist Department of Community Welfare, Officer in Charge for the Department of Technical and Further Education Aboriginal Program, Member of the Australia Government Committee, Chief executive of the Department of State Aboriginal Affairs overseeing and monitoring Government services to Aboriginal people and to operate services in heritage works, infrastructure, development and community relations and has sat on numerous boards and councils as executive director and advisory positions.

Mr. Rathman was awarded the Public Service Medal in 1993 and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. On Australia Day, 26th January 2000 Mr Rathman was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), Receiving his medal for services to Aboriginal Affairs, particularly for the delivery of SA Government services in the areas of education and community welfare.


Aunty Stephanie Gollan 2013, 2014

Stephanie Gollan was born at the Point Mcleay Aboriginal Mission community southeast of Adelaide, now know as Raukkan. From this background Stephanie has learnt traditional and contemporary cultural techniques such as storytelling, personal cultural history, basket weaving and traditional net making from community elders. Further study was completed at Tauondi Community College formerly the Aboriginal community college located in Port Adelaide. Stephanie completed her cultural guide for tourism in 2000.
In 2006, Stephanie commenced as a casual gallery attendant at Tandanya National Cultural Institute in the heart of Adelaide's CBD. 


Christine Egan 2009, 2011 & 2012

Christine Egan is a Ngarrindjeri - Ramindjeri & Gurindji woman who has 28 years experience working in both State and Federal Government. A majority of her employment was in Western Australia in the areas of Aboriginal employment, equity and justice as Conciliator / Community Education officer with the WA Equal opportunity commission.
Christine also worked for the Office for Women as Project Officer before starting as Aboriginal Policy officer for Aboriginal Women's Initiatives until her retirement in 2007.


Previous Ambassadors:

  • Marj Tripp 2012
  • Uncle Brian Butler 2012
  • Pat Warrior Reid 2013

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