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Our team

Embedding cultural competence nationwide

Meet our team of academic leaders and professional staff changing the cultural competence agenda at the University and beyond.

A word from the Lisa Jackson Pulver, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy and Services, on the appointment of Professor Jennifer Barrett as Director of the National Centre for Cultural Competence.

I’m delighted to announce that Professor Jennifer Barrett has been appointed as Director of the National Centre for Cultural Competence, following her work as the inaugural director of the University's Culture Strategy and extensive research in her field of museum and heritage studies.

Professor Barrett publishes on museums, culture, art, and the public sphere, and regularly collaborates with the museum, heritage, and gallery sectors. Along with her previous roles as Pro Dean Academic in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Director of Museum Studies, she was Chair of the Board of Museums and Galleries NSW and has been Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council Linkage project, Australian Holocaust Memory, Human Rights and the Contemporary Museum. Professor Barrett is excited to put her own expertise to work in the cultural competence space.

I’d also like to thank Dr Gabrielle Russell for her outstanding work while acting in the position since 2018. Under her leadership, the NCCC only grown stronger and become better placed to deliver truly transformation outcomes. We owe Gabrielle a huge debt of gratitude for her leadership and hard work during this time, and we thank her for setting the team up for great future successes.

Professor Barrett will commence in the role from July 2020. 

Once again, congratulations and welcome to Professor Barrett!

                                                        - Lisa Jackson Pulver, DVC ISS

Acting Director

Gabrielle Russell has diverse experience working in non-government organisations, politics, business, church and higher education.

Gabrielle is particularly interested in how to develop cultural competence from a non-Indigenous perspective and how to facilitate a deeper understanding of transformative ways to learn and work together.


Academic staff

Associate Professor Megan Williams is the Research Lead and Assistant Director of the National Centre for Cultural Competence. She is Wiradjuri through paternal family and has 25 years’ experience with programs and research about the health of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system. Megan’s PhD focussed on Aboriginal family support to prevent re-incarceration.

From 2017-2020 Megan was Head of Girra Maa, the Indigenous Health Discipline at UTS. Megan is a Chief Investigator of CRE-STRIDE and the NHMRC-funded Banga-mal-anha prison workforce development project. Megan Chairs the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network Human Research Ethics Committee.

Committed to conveying Indigenous excellence in research, Megan is a commissioning editor of health media organisation and Associate Editor of Health Sociology Review. She has over 60 publications about Aboriginal health, justice and education, and is author of the Ngaa-bi-nya (said naa-bin-ya) Aboriginal program evaluation framework published in the Evaluation Journal of Australasia.

Dr Demelza Marlin is an Academic Facilitator and Lecturer for the National Centre for Cultural Competence. She has Anglo-Celtic and Wiradjuri heritage with ancestral connections to country around Peak Hill. Having completed her PhD in Sociology from the University of New South Wales Demelza has worked in numerous teaching and learning roles at the University of New South Wales and Macquarie University before joining the NCCC.

At Macquarie University, Demelza worked with the Office of Indigenous Strategy on several cultural safety and Indigenous curriculum projects. She currently sits on the steering committee of Coaching Unlimited – a program that partners with Aboriginal coaches and communities to deliver culturally-sensitive coach education workshops. Demelza is deeply committed to the goal of decolonisation and wants to support staff and students to create a more inclusive, culturally connected university.

Demelza has published widely in the areas of Indigenous sport and belonging and is the co-author of Aboriginal Coaches, Community and Culture (with Nick Apoifis and Andrew Bennie) (Forthcoming Springer Press: Indigenous-Settler Relations Series).

Amy McHugh Cole is an Academic Facilitator and Lecturer for the National Centre for Cultural Competence and is part of the teaching team for their education programs. She creates and facilitates workshops which are delivered to both the University of Sydney community and other external groups.

Working towards her PhD in Curriculum, Instruction and the Science of Learning through the University at Buffalo, Amy also teaches intercultural communication online for the State University of New York at Oswego. She earned her BA in communication studies from Marist College in New York State, as well as her MA in international communication from Macquarie University.

Amy brings her years of teaching experience and research in the area of Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) and its effects on cultural competence to the NCCC. She is also interested in how technology and motivation play a role in our ongoing journey towards cultural competence. Amy seeks to work with others to help educate about cultural competence, and how that can be operationalised to help affect positive change across the higher education landscape and society more broadly.

Professional staff

Jen is the Executive Officer for the National Centre for Cultural Competence and is responsible the managing the day to day operations of the Centre, as well as working closely with the director on strategic planning and project priorities.

Jen has a keen interest in social justice and completed her undergraduate studies in sociology and business. Since then Jen has completed a post graduate qualification in communications, volunteered at STARTTS (NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors) and gained certification as a PRINCE 2, project management practitioner. Jen has worked for a variety of roles as a project manager/coordinator/officer across not-for-profit and university settings, working on projects ranging from; high stakes, confidential Australian (NAPLAN) and UK government education contracts through to the coordination of strategic planning activities, large scale marking centres and important high profile events.

Jen is looking forward to furthering her career in project-based community work, making lasting and positive changes for vulnerable groups, in both university and local government areas.

Tom is the Lead, Learning Media Production Specialist at the National Centre for Cultural Competence. His role is to create digital resources that support the NCCC’s teaching and learning goals by developing innovative media that integrates traditional Indigenous Story-telling practices with contemporary education and research programs.

Tom studied media at Charles Sturt University and has since worked in broadcast production including documentary, film, television and news. Before joining the NCCC, he managed the central production team in Educational Innovation at Sydney and has also worked at the University of NSW, Western Sydney and Wollongong.

Tom brings his rich experience and a diverse set of achievements, including nationally and internationally recognised awards and nominations, and has been proud to work on various video projects including; Aboriginal Sydney MOOC, Service Learning in Community, Clinical Yarning and Cultural Competence e-Modules. Tom is inspired by how these ‘shared experiences’ leads to authentic learning opportunities for students, staff and Indigenous Communities in mutually beneficial and respectful ways.

Cornel is a Videographer at the National Centre for Cultural Competence, who works with the team to create video content for the Centre. As an Indigenous man from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, Cornel started his career as a video editor at his local TV station Goolarri in Broome. In 2007, Cornel directed his first short film entitled Bollywood Dreaming, which saw success on the film festival circuit in Australia, North America and Canada. In 2008, Cornel received an international award for ‘Best Documentary’ at the Cherokee Film Festival in America for ‘Jarlmadangah dreams: Our dream Our reality’.

He has worked on a variety of projects which includes documentaries, an Indigenous cooking series ‘Kriol Kitchen’ for NITV, as well as the comedy show ‘Woollo’ and an Indigenous Hip Hop dance and health program, ‘Move It Mob Style’, for ABC. Cornel has also played a role as camera attachments on two feature films ‘The Sapphires’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’ and Director attachment on the Marvel feature film ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. Cornel hopes to use his experience in film to enhance the NCCC’s video resources to showcase the many interesting programs the Centre runs.

Nathan is a Senior Administration Officer at the National Centre for Cultural Competence, working with the team to keep the day-to-day functions of the centre running effectively. He joins the centre from the University of Canberra where he worked with the foundation of bachelor’s in management and psychology, fortified by over five years administrative and support services experience. Nathan’s previous role as Student Welfare Officer saw him support many culturally diverse students each with culturally unique circumstances and all struggling.

Nathan seeks to streamline the processes of the Centre to enable the academic staff to focus on their endeavours to teach and practice cultural competence. Through his work, he hopes to play a part in reframing the cultural narrative of Australia.

Rachael is a Project Officer with the National Centre for Cultural Competence working with academic staff on delivering the Centre's Online education programs on cultural competence. She has worked in academic and professional roles at the NCCC since 2016.

Rachael is a History graduate of the University of Sydney and in 2015 she completed her Bachelor of Arts (Advanced) (Honours) degree and was awarded the University Medal for her thesis on Aboriginal ‘protection’ policy in twentieth-century New South Wales. Alongside her work at the Centre, Rachael is now a post-graduate student of the University and is pursuing a Master of Nursing degree. This continues to foster her interest in working collaboratively to achieve social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the education and health sectors.

Erin is an online education Tutor with the National Centre for Cultural Competence. She works with other academic staff to support the delivery of the Centre's Online education programs on cultural competence at the University of Sydney. During her time at the Centre, Erin has also assisted in the development of an online resource to support academic staff at the University of Sydney to integrate cultural competence into curriculum.

Previously, Erin worked as a high school teacher across remote and regional areas of the Northern Territory and is currently completing her Masters in Development Studies at the University of Sydney. She also works part time as the program development officer for a non-profit in Sydney, designing educational programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students around Australia.