Advisory Committee

Advisory Committee Members


Ellery Blackman, CA
Co-Chair, Indigenous Accountants Australia

Assistant Manager (Private Enterprises), KPMG

My story
I am a Butchulla man and I grew up on Kalkadoon country in Mount Isa, North West Queensland. After completing a Bachelor of Commerce at James Cook University in Townsville, I gained a graduate position with a Crowe Horwath member firm in Townsville where I completed the Chartered Accountants Program. During my 5 years at Crowe Horwarth I worked up to Senior Advisor level, gained experience in tax and business advisory and worked with clients in the retail, hospitality, manufacturing, medical, Native Title and cultural heritage industries. I then commenced with Pascoe Partners and worked in the Custodian Services department for two years until moving to my current position at KPMG, where I now provide management and tax accounting services to private clients, working with clients in agriculture, hospitality, mining service, and Indigenous businesses.

Why I think the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is important
As Indigenous involvement in the Australian economy continues to grow – thanks to increased workforce participation and the commercial result of Native Title recognition of Traditional Land – the financial capacity of Indigenous communities is increasing. So there’s a need for financial management skills to ensure that the financial capacity that is developed today has a lasting, positive impact for Indigenous Australians.

The Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative will not only help to ensure that Indigenous Australians are represented within the profession, but that the necessary financial management skills are developed by people who understand Indigenous issues.



Dr Kerry Bodle 
Co-Chair, Indigenous Accountants Australia

Lecturer, Department of Accounting, Finance & Economics, Griffith University 

My Story
My journey thus far is one that is typical of most Indigenous people who have experienced the impact of past government policies and practices. My mother is one of the “Stolen Generation” removed from Cherbourg at the age of three. I’ve been married twice and have four children: 42, 37 and twins aged 22. My eldest daughter was born when I was 16 years of age.

At the age of 38, I decided to chase my dream of being a maths teacher. But when it was time to fill out the application form, my eldest daughter said: “Why don’t you take accounting Mum, it pays more and students really want to be at university”. So I enrolled in a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) and graduated in 1998. My dream of being a teacher came to fruition when I was invited to become a sessional accounting teacher in 1999. I decided to complete my Honours in 2003 and became a full-time academic in 2004.

I enrolled in a PhD in 2005 titled ‘The Impact of Changes in the Accounting Standards for Intangible Assets on Financial Ratios: Consequences for Bankruptcy Prediction Models.’ Over the next decade, I really struggled with the writing and research due to the so-called “imposter syndrome”. You believe you are not good enough, that someone will come along and tap you on the shoulder and say, “you don’t belong here”. Anyway, with my grandmother and mother’s strength, I finally was awarded my doctorate in 2013.

I have also developed the new Indigenous business course that provides graduates with knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander history and cultures in different business environments. My research interests have evolved to include Indigenous themes such as franchising, business survival, and financial literacy.

One of the major benefits of my time at Griffith University is that I have been able to reconnect with my culture and maintain involvement in Indigenous community, such as the GUMURRII Student Support Unit, the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council, and the Indigenous Research Network.

Why I think the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is important

Being one of the first Australian Indigenous accounting academics with a PhD and CPA qualifications, has given me the greatest opportunity to be a part of the IAA initiative. This position allows me to help develop culturally safe pathways between the recruitment of Indigenous students from their communities, graduation from universities and successful employment. I hope that some of the students will go back to their own communities and inspire other students to go to school, and then university, to become accountants.


Sally Clark
Vice-Chair, Indigenous Accountants Australia

Manager, PwC’s Indigenous Consulting

My story
I attended Leigh Creek Area School in the Northern Flinders of South Australia and the traditional land of my people, the Adnyamathanha people. My first job was as a Bank Clerk for Bank SA and then as a Payroll Clerk for the Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA). During my time at ETSA I attained an Associate Diploma in Accounting at Adelaide TAFE and I was promoted to the role of Assistant Accountant and then Business Planning Coordinator in Adelaide.
After a stint with Accounting firm Shearer Eilliss, I stayed at home to care for my young children and studied for a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of South Australia. In my final year, I was employed with the Indigenous Land Corporation as a Project Advisor, working with Indigenous groups in the Northern Territory. My maths teacher steered me into a role at Bank SA and I’ve worked mainly in finance sector roles ever since.

Why I think the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is important
It’s my strong belief that the problems faced by Indigenous people in Australia will not be solved by Governments alone and that the private sector must take part in creating employment and training opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Australians.

By providing more employment opportunities in culturally safe work places and supporting ATSI people to gain a qualification, a greater number of Indigenous agencies, service providers and private enterprises can be managed by Indigenous people, rather than non-Indigenous people, as is the current practice.

Having more Indigenous Accountants in Australia will lead to:

    • More Indigenous CEO’s/CFO’s
    • More Indigenous enterprises
    • Greater Indigenous economic development
    • Indigenous organisations being run by Indigenous people
    • Increased Indigenous employment
    • Increased self determination for Indigenous people
    • Specialist Indigenous practitioners who can provide advice to Indigenous people/businesses
    • Less reliance on Government funds for Indigenous employment and economic development as Indigenous business grows
    • More Indigenous entrepreneurs making a greater impact
    • Greater Indigenous wealth creation in Australia


Mary Clarke
Head Education Policy, CPA Australia

My story
While I am proud to be Kiwi, and will always barrack for the All Blacks, I now call Australia my home, and have done so for more than a decade now.  I grew up in Wellington, New Zealand, number two in a large family of 12 children. I studied economics to post graduate level after I left school, and later in life completed an executive masters in public administration.  Both have supported me in a career that spans two and a half decades that has focused on policy.  I have worked in senior and executive policy roles in the New Zealand and Victorian Governments. I have worked as an economic consultant, with clients from all sides of the table attempting to shape policy outcomes.  My current role is Head of Education Policy with CPA Australia.  I am privileged to lead a team focused on policy, research support, accreditation, tuition provision and, importantly, the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative.

Why I think the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is important
The Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative creates the opportunity to change mindsets and open up rewarding study and careers for Indigenous Australians.  There are few other pathways like accounting that hold the same potential to support self-determination and thereby economic development.  This is all the more critical when one reflects that the major reasons why Indigenous corporations fail are poor financial management and governance. It is therefore of concern when less than one percent of Accounting professionals are Indigenous.  The Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is an exciting opportunity to do something about this.



Mark Jones
General Manager SA/NT, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

My story
I spent the first 13 years of my career in the advertising and marketing profession with Young & Rubicam before moving to the Securities Institute of Australia as Regional Manager SA/NT. Having been with the SIA (now Finsia) for 6 years I moved to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia in April 2000. My role at the Institute is General Manager SA/NT and I am part of the Institute’s national leadership management team. I am on the Advisory Board for the Flinders University Business School and the University of SA Centre for Accounting, Governance and Sustainability as well as a member of the Aboriginal Employment Professional Services Cluster in SA. I have a Bachelor of Business Major in Marketing, a Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance and Investment and a Diploma in Direct Marketing.

Why I think the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is important
It is all about building the capacity of Aboriginal people to participate in learning, training and work, matched with building the ability of organisations, in all parts of the profession such as practice and commerce, to employ and develop Aboriginal people. The ultimate aim is to create a sustainable future for Aboriginal communities around Australia through greater financial literacy and self determination due to enhanced business skills


Dr Luisa Lombardi, PhD, CPA
Senior Lecturer, Deakin University

My story

After spending years working as a nurse I returned back to study and completed my Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in accounting. I worked in various accounting roles, mainly in corporate settings. I once again returned to further my studies and completed an Honours degree in Accounting.  The thesis of my Honour’s degree is titled ‘Indigenous Australian Accountants: Overcoming barriers’. At that time, I was able to locate only nine self-identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander accountants. Wanting to further explore the virtual exclusion of Indigenous Australians from the accounting profession, I went on to complete my PhD titled ‘The role of Accounting in the financial capacity building of Indigenous Australians’. The number of Indigenous Australian accountants today remains startlingly small.

Why I think the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is important

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are significantly underrepresented in the Accounting profession. I believe that the work we have been doing, as part of the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative, is essential for providing support that will assist Indigenous Australians wanting to enter the accounting profession. Historically, Indigenous peoples and communities have been reliant on non-Indigenous resources to manage Indigenous business and enterprises. Accounting, when delivered by Indigenous peoples, can potentially be used to open the door to decision-making positions and enterprises that will arguably expedite the path to economic empowerment.


Christian Lugnan, CPA
ORIC Regional Manager, Coffs Harbour PM&C, Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations

My story
I am a Gumbaynggirr man from the Coffs Harbour region. I was always good at maths at school which encouraged me to pursue something in this field. However the real reason I wanted to become an accountant was when I was at my mother’s workplace when the business’s accountant came to visit. At this time I was keen on BMWs and the accountant drove a BMW – hence to get the BMW I had to become an accountant! I didn’t get the BMW however – my first car was a VW.

I completed my HSC in 1992 and started a Bachelor of Business (Accounting major) at the University of Technology, Sydney. I transferred to Southern Cross University in Lismore, NSW after two years in Sydney and completed the degree in 1997.

I also was fortunate enough to gain a cadetship with Aboriginal Hostels Limited (AHL) whereby I studied during the semesters and then worked for AHL in Sydney or their national office in Canberra. This worked well as I was gaining work experience whilst studying plus also earning a lot more than the average student!

After a few years of working full time with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission as an internal auditor, I decided to begin the Certified Practising Accountants program in 2001. I was successful in gaining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarship to undertake the studies. I was granted CPA status in 2005.

Since this time I have been working with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations conducing examinations of corporations but also supporting and assisting corporations with their governance and financial affairs policies and procedures.

Having an accounting background and qualification has provided me with many opportunities in the accounting field but also in other aspects of my life.

Why I think the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is important
Accounting skills enable people to make better, informed decisions when making financial judgments. The Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative provides a platform to identify opportunities, barriers, stakeholders and individuals to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with these skills and expertise.

There has been a focus over the last 20 years or so in increasing the number of Indigenous doctors, other health professionals, lawyers, teachers etc. The focus required now is to provide more options for Indigenous people to take up accounting opportunities and professions.


Richard Ryan PhotoRichard Ryan, AO, FCA
Professional Company Director, Editure Limited

My Story
I am a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Companion of both the Institutions of Engineers and Chartered Management Institute UK.

I am the former Chancellor of the Charles Darwin University, a Governor of Menzies School of Health Research and a director of a number of public and government boards.

I was made a member of the Order of Australia for services to the Community, and subsequently an Officer of the Order of Australia for Services to Indigenous People.

I have lived in the Northern Territory all my working life and have always been passionately involved in education. Now a professional company director, I currently reside in both Adelaide and Darwin.

Real progress can never occur unless there are educational institutions that enable graduates to enter the workforce and that cater to the young both in trades and in higher education.

If I was asked to focus on one element it would be that any significant success, no matter what the goal, simply has to have as its cornerstone, education.

So in order for our young people to have the same advantages as their city cousins, no matter what the task, whether it be business, tourism or sport, it all needs to start with education and of the disciplines that are part and parcel of that, an accounting qualifiaction is a perfect example.
Why I think the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is important:

I think that the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is so important because all people who live in Australia should have the same educational advantages, to participate in learning, training and work.  Through education and training Indigenous people and communities are made stronger, giving them greater financial stability and enhanced business management skills that will have a lasting positive impact.


Sarah Richards, CPA
Senior Associate, PwC Indigenous Consulting

My story

My journey in accountancy started in high school. I studied accounting in my senior years and then received direct entry into Griffith University. I was offered a cadetship with the Queensland government, which allowed me to study, earn and learn, and in 2011 I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (accounting and economics) and accepted a graduate position at the Department of Finance. Mid-way through my graduate year, I received an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CPA scholarship to start the journey towards becoming a CPA qualified Accountant, which I completed in February 2015.

I chose to pursue an accounting career because there’s such a high demand for accountants in the workforce and I had a natural aptitude for it. Accounting has equipped me with a range of skills that are transferable to countless roles. And because CPA is an internationally recognised qualification, there’s the option to pursue a career overseas.

My placement on the Indigenous Accountants Advisory Committee has reignited my passion for accounting. It also aligns with my desire to do more for my community and provides me with the opportunity to become a role model for future Indigenous accountants.

Why I think the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is important
I think this initiative will help to correct the current misconception that being an accountant is a boring career, and it will provide a better understanding about the scope of work accountants actually can do. Becoming an accountant can be beneficial for your community because it equips you with the skills you need to provide financial and project advice about where and how to use funds effectively on community projects.



Adrian Williams
Head of Finance, Property, AMP Capital

My story
My current role is Head of Property Finance at AMP Capital where I’m responsible for providing financial and analytical support in property, asset and development management.

As a member of the Property Leadership team, an important part of my role is contributing to the strategic direction and growth of the business. I truly enjoy the wide range of opportunities a role such as mine provides and I feel engaged and empowered to make a difference to our business.

I joined AMP Capital in 2007 after six years at Jones Lang LaSalle where I was National Director of Finance, Lease Administration and Compliance. Prior to that, I held a number of senior finance roles at Fairfax and was part of a Project Team delivering cultural, system and process change to a Government organisation. In all of these roles I gained significant experience leading large finance teams through major cultural and system change programs.

Finance and Accounting has changed dramatically since I started work in 1986. Along the way I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a number of inspiring leaders and learnt from each experience. It’s a privilege to be Head of Finance and to have the opportunity to direct, drive, influence, challenge and support people at all levels of my organisation.

Throughout my career I’ve been involved in a range of other roles outside of my Finance career. Currently I’m a Board Member for Gallery 4A, a Contemporary Asian Art Gallery in Chinatown Sydney. I’ve also had stints teaching English to migrant families in my local area and worked for Red Cross in my local hospital.

Why I think the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is important
I think IAA has the potential to be an important contributor to the cultural development and strength of our country. It has the potential to widen opportunities and provide strength to Indigenous people, their families and their communities. It will also weave Indigenous wisdom into the decision making of Finance and Accounting teams across corporate Australia.

Some of the specific benefits for Indigenous Australians could be:

      • Improved money management and financial skills
      • Greater financial independence
      • The ability to be actively involved in financial decisions that impact Indigenous people, families, communities and businesses
      • A better understanding of career and lifestyle options created through Accounting and finance knowledge
      • Improved strength and independence of Indigenous Communities through decreased reliance on non-Indigenous Australians for the provision of Accounting expertise
      • Use of Accounting skills as a springboard to broader careers in business, community or government
      • Development of personal financial skills to assist in enriching the lives and affairs of individuals, families, communities and businesses
      • Development of new Indigenous Australian role models



Dane Zeeman, CPA
Owner, Zeeman Accounting

My story
I enjoyed the business subjects at school and always liked working with numbers, so it was a relatively easy decision to study accounting at university. At university I found the tax units most interesting and so I pursued a career in public practice.

I worked for a small accounting practice for 12 years, which gave me valuable skills across a range of accounting services and during this time I completed my CPA studies.

In 2011 I decided to take on the challenge of opening my own practice. This has been such a rewarding experience, both professionally and personally.

Why I think the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is important
This is an exciting time for Indigenous Australians because we have more opportunities to participate in employment and business. To achieve a sustainable benefit from this we need to have the skills to manage finances in our families, businesses and communities.

The initiative has also commenced at a time when more Indigenous Australians are completing high school and attending university. Given that a high percentage of our population is young, we have an opportunity to attract a large number of students to consider Accounting as a career.

Accounting is a career that offers opportunities to work in a range of specialised areas locally and globally. With increased awareness of what Accountants do, and work experience opportunities to apply knowledge, I believe that many more students will see Accounting as an attractive career choice.



Damien FoleyDamien Foley
Director, Foley Business Management

My Story
I am a Gumbaynggirr man raised on Dunghatti country in Kempsey, NSW. Currently I’m the Director of Foley Business Management, a bookkeeping and consulting business based in Brisbane.

I’ve had a professional career as an accountant in both public practice and commercial since completing my Bachelor of Commerce at University of Newcastle. I subsequently joined the family business and have been involved in the Indigenous business sector since my role as Treasurer of the South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce in 2010. I’ve been invited to sit on numerous community boards and business committees and I’m a graduate of the Melbourne Business School ‘Murra Indigenous Entrepreneurs Program’.

I’ve spoken at various conferences and seminars around Australia on the subject of Indigenous business and accounting, including Yulkum Jerrang – Melbourne, Aboriginal Enterprise in Mining Energy and Exploration – Perth, Reconciliation Week Business Seminars – Brisbane, ASIC Indigenous Financial and Commercial Literacy Workshop – Darwin, Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand Business Forum- Brisbane, CPA Australia Congress – Sydney, Interdepartmental Accounting Group (Queensland Government) – Gold Coast, and most recently the Indigenous Accounting and Business Conference in Melbourne.

Some of the projects I’ve managed during my career include the Indigenous Business Student and Employer Networking Event (Brisbane 2015, 2016 & Newcastle 2015), Indigenous Accountants Informal Lunches- Australia wide (2015), South East Queensland Indigenous Chamber of Commerce NAIDOC Breakfast (2013, 2015), Indigenous Business ‘Meet The Buyers’ QLD Resource Sector (2012).

Why I Think the Indigenous Accountants Australia initiative is important

There is a clear need for greater representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the financial sector. There is incredible demand for Indigenous business, with few Indigenous accountants being able to provide professional services to them.

The Indigenous Accountants Australia’s aim is to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander accountants, making it an important initiative to improve the outcomes for not only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, their family and their community, but to all Australians through the improvement of economic development outcomes.



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