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Embedding cultural competence nationwide

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

Professor Jennifer Barrett, Director

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 Jennifer Barrett continues her work in culture as the Director of the National Centre for Cultural Competence.

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.

Academic staff

Dr Gabrielle Russell is Assistant Director and Education Lead at the National Centre for Cultural Competence where she leads the Centre’s work in progressing a deeper understanding of the theory and practice of cultural competence and has been instrumental in creating effective resources and research to cultivate cultural competence at the personal and organisational level.

Gabrielle has diverse experience gained working in non-government organisations, politics, business, church and higher education. As a White woman originally from England she is particularly interested in how to develop cultural competence from diverse perspectives and positions and how to facilitate a deeper understanding of transformative ways to learn and work together. 

Dr Demelza Marlin 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).

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..

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

Anna Noonan is the Business Development Manager for the National Centre for Cultural Competence. Anna’s role is to support the development of the Centre as a leading provider of cultural competence education and research across a range of partnerships within the higher education sector and beyond. 

Anna has a multidisciplinary tertiary background, having completed qualifications in Media and Communications, International Studies, Public Health. She is currently undertaking her PhD with the NHRMC Centre of Excellence in Sexual and Reproductive Health (SPHERE). 

Anna joined the NCCC in early 2021, bringing a decade of experience working in strategic research and education initiatives, external engagement and business development at the University of Sydney. Prior to entering the tertiary sector, Anna worked in human rights and international development in Australia and internationally, and has a long-held commitment and passion for social justice. 

Living and working on beautiful Wiradjuri Country in Orange NSW, Anna is keen to contribute to the growth and strengthening of the NCCC in building confidence, motivation and knowledge of cultural competence across the country and beyond.  

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 in a variety of roles across not-for-profit and university settings, and 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.

Emily is a Project Officer with the National Centre for Cultural Competence, working alongside research and education staff to develop and deliver programs on cultural competence.

Prior to this, she worked within the University of Sydney, designing and producing experiential and collaborative learning opportunities for low-SES and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, such as the Wingara Mura – Bunga Barrabugu Summer and Winter Programs.

Emily has worked across a range of education initiatives and creative programs within the arts, not-for profit, and university sector, specialising in project management, production, and content creation. Her degree in gender studies and art history from the University of Sydney both informs and drives her work and its focus on social justice and inclusivity.

Emily seeks to continue work where the sharing of a diversity of stories and perspectives is prioritised, and is highly motivated to work in environments and organisations that consciously lead to enable change.