staff

Noeletta McKenzie

Manager

Noeletta is a Darwin born and bread woman, with roots tracking from central Australia, the Luritja tribe and from Western Australia Yamaji tribe.   

Noeletta has worked in youth affairs sector for approximately 20 years, She recently spent over 10 years running and building up the youth centre in Maningrida community. Noeletta is passionate about Indigenous affairs, social justice, including youth justice and the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples. She also has a wealth of experience working in the arts sector, previously a singer songwriter with the Wild Water Band, and an events coordinator and festival director of the Lurra Festival. 
Noeletta also has a love for writing children's books and it sticks by the saying that every kid she works with is a kid apart of her family. 

Tara Venn

Camp Coordinator 

Tara is a qualified teacher with years experience in outdoor Education. 
She organises Balunu's youth healing and well-being camps.

Menah McKenzie 

Female Senior Youth worker

Philamena is a proud Burarra woman from Maningrida but also proud oh her Scottish heritage from he grand father. She has worked in youth services for over 4 years. She has worked across 4 Arnhem land communities delivering programs that support wellbeing, health, education and leadership. She also played a role in mentoring local youth workers in communities, planning and delivering youth events and also an event manager on the annual Lurra Festival. Philamena established The Youth leadership committee at GYS Maningrida to enable youth leadership opportunities. She has also led youth initiatives, such as the 2016 Yarning up strong healing our youth suicide prevention forum and has recently started coordinating the Salt water divas women in music program to empower and develop women on their music journey's. Recognised for her work and efforts, Philamena was a finalist in the young achievers awards in 2017 and a category winner in 2019. She's passionate about guiding people young and old towards their healing journey. 

Ray-Ray McKenzie 

Youth Apprentice/ workshop facilitator

Ray-Ray is the Youth Apprentice at Balunu, she takes care of Balunu's small events, Social media pages and helps co-facilitate the Strong young Tiddas Program.

Outside of Balunu Ray-Ray is a singer-songwriter who often performs around Darwin. 

Zac Alexandrov

Male Senior Youth Worker

Zac is a strong young Indigenous man born and bred in the Northern Territory with family ties from the Pitjanjatjara/Nyangatjatjara people in central desert Tiwi Islands Western and South Australia, he is a traditional owner of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National park having both lived in the desert and around Salt water he has a rare Knowledge of both walks of life, Zac has been working with youth for the past four years with experience in working with challenging and level 4 Youth, Zac is extremely excited to be working with Balunu and will be leading our Strong Young Warrior Programs to share his life experiences and knowledge with all our future leaders and Warriors.

BOARD 

STEWART O'CONELL

Stewart graduated from the  University  of Queensland with a Bachelor of Laws in 1995. He has since practiced in a variety of legal areas including criminal defence, coronial inquiries, unlawful imprisonment, defamation, negligence and family law. He has also practiced in several jurisdictions including Darwin, Katherine, Alice Springs and Sydney and has extensive bush court experience. In 2007 Stewart was the Senior Project Officer on the Inquiry that produced The Little Children are Sacred Report..

GERRY GEORGATOS 

Gerry Georgatos has a long history working closely and alongside the homeless, the most
vulnerable and the incarcerated. He is a suicide prevention, poverty, trauma recovery and
prisons reform researcher and advocate, writing prolifically on these and other issues. He has
established projects (some national) to improve the lot of others. He helped establish the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) and was a
member of ATSISPEP’s pilot of the Critical Response Project, responding to suicide affected
families. Gerry helped establish the National Indigenous Critical Response Service and was the
NICRS' National Coordinator. He established the National Migrant Youth Support Service. He
also established the National Child Sexual Abuse Trauma Recovery Project.
MA in Social Justice Advocacy (Murdoch University), Master in Human Rights (Curtin
University), GradDip in Human Rights Education (Curtin University), BA in Philosophy, BA in
Media, BA in Australian Indigenous Studies.
Gerry has journeyed to hundreds of homeland communities.

DEB FERNANDO

Debra Fernando who is a Kamilaroi woman 55 year of age from far not NSW. Debra has recently
completed her studies in Psychological science with honours at Southern Cross University in Coffs
Harbor. Currently undergoing her Masters in Applied behavioural analysis which focuses on the way
in which human learn behaviour and methods to assist in changing behaviour. Along with Debra
academic qualification she brings with her a wealth of experience in working within Aboriginal
organisation and non-Aboriginal organisations across Australia. Debra has worked in many parts of
Australia such as remote parts of Australia some examples are; Oak valley, Yalata, Alice Springs, and
Maningrida
Debra achievement include: Vice Chancellor’s Award for Community Engagement, United Nations
permanent forum on Indigenous Issues regarding Indigenous Traditional Knowledge, Presenter at
the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology conference, Event coordinator for the
International year for the World’s Indigenous People. Co-author for three papers on capacity
building, critical mass and methods in research with Indigenous, Spokesperson for remote
Indigenous women, Spokesperson for Indigenous remote employment opportunities in the House of
Representatives. Debra is a sole owner and director of her consultancy business primary focussed on
project management, implementing change, and program evaluation.
Debra has also assist Aboriginal organisations with programs and implementation of new initiatives
with Aboriginal communities in both urban and remote areas addressing issues staff and clients face.
Debra is training to specialises in behavioural change when dealing with complex trauma, domestic
violence working, suicide and developing a safe environment for clients, staff and self.
In her new role as Senior Intensive support officer Debra will work with Ngurrala Aboriginal
Corporation Family safety services. Assisting with advancement of case management skills in staff
and will develop culturally appropriate programs that are evidence based which meets the needs of
the organisation and the client.

DAVID COLE 

I had the vision for Balunu for many years before actively working.The Balunu Foundation to me is the result of my life experiences and my personal challenges I have faced. Overcoming these struggles to break the cycle for my children has motivated me to try helping other youth also to break the cycles of which many Indigenous people are stuck in. I see this vision as my purpose and it is my passion to reach out to help as many Indigenous people to rise above all that holds us back to create positive cycles for the generations to come. I am committed to this vision and truly believe that if we all unite and walk together we can achieve greatness and undo the injustices of the past by taking positive affirmative action today to make tomorrow a better place for all.

PEDRO PIKOS

Managing   Director   (The Pikos  Group). The Pikos Group is a family-owned and operated development company with extensive experience in real estate and the residential and commercial construction industry. In 2001 Pikos expanded into South-East Queensland and to date has completed various projects ranging from beachfront high-rise luxury mixed use developments, through to luxury contemporary residences in the Brisbane inner city market. Prior to becoming Managing Director in1990, Pedro headed up Nationwide Realty in Darwin in addition to a period working in Singapore.

THIHA TUN 

Thiha graduated from the Australian National University with a bachelor of economics in 1995. He has then been working as a project manager in a range of international organisations until 2002 when he returned to Australia. He has since then completed his graduate diploma in information technology (University of Queensland), master of business administration - finance (University of southern Queensland), and has completed his CPA accreditation. Thiha has been working with Indigenous organisations in South East Queensland since 2007 and has been with Balunu as a finance manager from 2010 to 2018 and as a Director from 2019 onwards. 

MIM COLE

Mim Cole is the co-founder of Balunu.  

Contact

4 Totem Road  Ludmilla NT 0820

​​Tel: (08) 8985 4400

​Email: info@balunu.org.au

The Balunu Foundation Ltd is a non-profit, Australian Public Company limited by guarantee incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001. Balunu is a public benevolent institution and registered charity, exempt from income tax and registered as a deductible gift recipient.© 2018 MacMedia. Proudly created with Wix.com

ABN 23 122 954 698