Meet our deadly team!
Books n Boots is operated solely on the generosity of volunteers, board members and on-the-ground people. We truly appreciate all the time, persistence and passion each member brings.
We wouldn't exist without you. Thank you :)
John Harding -
Co-Founder, Director and Chairperson
John (he/him) is a Meriam/Gu-Gu Yulangi man, born and bred in Melbourne. John has been writing in theatre, television series, documentary, drama, films, and poetry for over 35 years. John has won several State and National awards (including the Human Rights Drama Award). He specialises in creative writing and has sat on Indigenous Advisory committees for Melbourne Arts Festival and Australian Arts Law Centre, and is currently a Board member of the First Nations of Australia Writer's Network.
John is a founding member of Ilbijerri Aboriginal/TSI Theatre Company and was the national consultant for the Australian Red Cross in Diversity and Inclusion.
John is completing his doctorate of philosophy at the University of Melbourne, where he is a guest lecturer.
Lisa Thorpe is a Gunditjmara/ Gunnai woman from Victoria. Lisa is the CEO of Bubup Wilam for Early Learning Aboriginal Child and Family Centre. She has been integral to the inception and development of Bubup Wilam and ensuring the right to self-determination for Aboriginal children and their families. Lisa has been employed in Aboriginal community-based and community-controlled organisations for most of her career. She has managed and worked on many programs that have directly contributed to providing services for Aboriginal people.
Lisa has a Master’s in Public Health from Deakin, where she worked as an Associate Professor with the Institute Koorie Education for seven years and is currently completing her PhD.
Lisa is a strong advocate for her people and works tirelessly to ensure First Nation rights to self-determination are met.
Non- Executive Director
Marla (she/her) is a proud descendant of the Warlpiri nation. Marla has over 20 years of experience working with First Nations communities in South Australia as a Project officer in community engagement and managerial roles.
Marla has extensive experience as a researcher for the South Australian Department of Health before moving to the Nunkuwarrin Yunti in South Australia to lead the fleet and administration team. Marla also worked in the corporate sector in the Cooper Basin as a Land Access Co-ordinator and currently holds the position of Community Engagement Officer at the Fay Fuller Foundation.
Marla brings years of administrative and logistics/freight experience to the Books n Boots executive team, and her connection to First Nations rural and remote communities is highly regarded.
Uncle Tommy Smith - Cultural Elder
Uncle Tommy Smith is a highly respected Wiradjuri man and experienced community development strategist from Cowra. He has lived in Redfern, Fitzroy, and Canberra most of his life. Uncle Tommy has spent his career pioneering self-determination for First Nations peoples in many areas. A qualified school teacher, in 1983 Uncle Tommy was an adviser to the Victorian Education Department and the Victorian Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Secretariat in the establishment of VAEAI.
Uncle Tommy also established the first Koorie Housing Construction (KHC) companies in Australia, based in Collingwood, Naarm. Recently retired, Uncle Tommy’s last post was to manage the National Indigenous Ranger Program for the National Department of Environment and Heritage, under three Prime Ministers, looking after over 200 First Nations rangers across the country, treating caretakers with cultural respect and acknowledgment.
Uncle Tommy's life experience, knowledge, and extensive connections with communities across Australia are highly appreciated at Books n Boots.
Co-Founder & National Co-ordinator
Tara, (she/her) is a Cham descendant Indigenous to the land now known as Vietnam. She has extensive experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities and is a fifteen-year veteran. As a Family Services Practitioner, Tara has also worked for The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency and several other not-for-profit welfare agencies. Tara's involvement with the First Nations community in Melbourne was strengthened through her engagement with The Marge Tucker Hostel in Melbourne, where she provided trusted support for at-risk First Nations teenage girls. As Lead Practitioner of Children and Parenting Support Service for Western Melbourne, she established the Booron Program for First Nations parents and their children.
Tara is passionate about addressing the health, well-being, and educational inequities of First Nations peoples. As co-founder of Books n Boots, Tara aims to take the broader community with her in leveling access to learning for First Nations children and their families. Tara is completing a Master of Business Administration.
Aunty Joan - Volunteer, Bundjalung Tiny Treasures
Joan (she/her) is a retired social worker currently supporting refugees and asylum seekers. Her previous career involved social work in health and disability services, most recently in partnering with the families of young children with disabilities to assist them in accessing the needed resources. As part of this role, she worked with a First Nations playgroup on Bundjalung Country - a role in which she felt privileged to work and absolutely loved. These experiences sparked Joan's passion to volunteer in a role that strives to ensure that every child has equitable access to resources and equal opportunities for learning and development. When she heard about the aims of Books ’n’ Boots, it seemed a perfect fit! In her spare time, Joan advocates protecting the koala population and their habitat in her local area. She also makes Ooray/Davidson plum jam and enjoys kayaking with friends.
Books n Boots would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live, work, and learn. We would like to pay respect to elders past, present, and emerging and recognise that sovereignty has never been ceded.
It always was and always will be Aboriginal land
Copyright Books n Boots 2020. All rights reserved
Books n Boots is a registered charity with DGR 1 status. All gift donations are tax-deductible