2017 NAIDOC committee 

Lidia Thorpe – Chair

Lidia is a Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman from the South-East and Western districts of Victoria. Lidia has extensive experience in Aboriginal health, education, employment and Aboriginal funeral services an also manages her own consulting and event management business. She is currently the Aboriginal Employment Project Advisor with the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and is working to increase engagement and employment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Victorian local government.

Lidia was a recipient of the Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership Award in 2008 and other past appointments have included the Bairnsdale Regional Health Board, Manager of the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Training Centre, Indigenous Services Manager with Centrelink and Manager of a consortium of Aboriginal and mainstream health services in East Gippsland.

Lidia is the Victorian representative to the National Advisory Committee for The Smith Family and has provided advice on various National projects including the Human Rights Commission’s Local Government Social Cohesion resource. Lidia is a passionate about Self Determination, Sovereignty and ensuring there is a voice from grass roots Aboriginal people.


Aunty Pam Pedersen

Aunty Pam is a Yorta Yorta elder of the Victorian Aboriginal community and has been involved in NAIDOC since she was 17 years old. Her parents, Pastor Sir Doug and Lady Nicholls, along with a number of other Aboriginal community members, were instrumental in the establishment of NAIDOC in Victoria.

Apart from her long associations with NAIDOC, Aunty Pam is as an Elder on the Children’s Koori Court, the County Koori Court of Victoria, the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court and the Heidelberg Children’s Koori Court. Aunty Pam has also been appointed to the Adult Parole Board of Melbourne.

Apart from the above, Aunty Pam is employed by the Jesuit Social Services in a capacity building role that spans the organisation. Prior to her appointment with Jesuit Social Services, Aunty Pam was employed with the Victorian Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Prevention Service – a dedicated Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service.

Aunty Pam is a passionate advocate for Aboriginal people and is a master athlete in many sporting events especially half marathons. Her motto is “If you dream it, you can achieve it.”

Aunty Pam is very proud to continue to be a part of the NAIDOC Committee and believes what it achieved in 2014, 2015 and 2016 was absolutely remarkable, believing that these to be some of the best NAIDOCs she has been a part of and delivered.

Mark Nannup

Mark is young Yamaji/Noonga man from Meekatharra and Port Hedland in Western Australia. Mark relocated to Melbourne three years ago to take up an appointment with Crown Resorts. Prior to moving to Melbourne, Mark was employed with Crown Resorts in WA where he completed a certificate III in hospitality. Mark employment history also includes mining engineering and site geology where he received on the job training to be a mine technician.

Mark has a keen interest in the media, performing arts and theatre and has worked with local Sydney-based Aboriginal radio station (Gadigal) prior to undertaking a 12 month Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) traineeship learning about theatre production and where he played the role of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and flute in “a midsummer’s night dream” produced the Acting Studio 21 lecturers.

Troy Benjamin

Troy Benjamin

Raised in Djillong (Geelong), Troy joins the NAIDOC committee for the first time this year bringing his positive energy and thirst for new challenges. He is Tati Tati, Wiradjuri, Muti Muti, Wamba Wamba and Latje Latje and is thrilled to be learning all he can about this lands people and culture through community.
He is an entrepreneur, with over 20 years in the hospitality industry, most recently selling his successful cafe T-roy Browns in Melbourne after being awarded Top 10 Melbourne cafe 2014 – 2016.
He is the founder of new start-up Backup Barista which is an Australia wide barista-for-hire service. He is also a cafe consultant and a barista trainer. In his down-time,Troy enjoys playing and coaching basketball, hosting events, looking at new projects and sleeping. Troy encourages everyone to do more of what makes you feel uncomfortable, work as a team and laugh every day.

Merinda Dryden

Merinda DrydenI am proud of my heritage and fiercely determined to impart indigenous history, language and culture to our young people. I have worked in various projects while at Fitzroy High School to promote our culture and develop awareness of important traditions and stories of our people.



Jordan Edwards

Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 1.32.56 pmI help out with teaching traditional dance in Altona and i also take cultural tours down the Yarra for the Koorie Heritage Trust. 

Jordan  has a strong connection with the Korin Gamadji Institute and was instrumental in developing and performing the war cry prior to Richmond’s annual Dreamtime at the ‘G match against Essendon in 2016.









Past Members

Elisha Douglas

Elisha is a proud Wotjobaluk and Narrunga woman (from the Western districts Vic and the York Peninsular, S.A). Elisha has a strong interest contributing to positive change within our Aboriginal community and making opportunities accessible to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Since 2013, Elisha has been working as the Koorie Youth Council (KYC) Project Officer and is contributing to the community by enabling and encouraging young Koories to have a voice and participate in making change.

Before being appointed to her current role with the KYC, Elisha had already been an active member of the KYC for over three years. She has worked in various administrative, events and project based roles within the aboriginal affairs portfolio of the Victorian Government.

She has qualifications in Business, Community Development and has completed a Bachelor of Arts in Kyinandoo (Indigenous Studies). She was also a finalist of 2012 IPAA Young Indigenous Leader Scholarship and was nominated in 2013 for the Ricci Marks Young Aboriginal Achiever Award. Elisha is also a member of the Regional Aboriginal Justice Committee for the Western Metro Region and was on the Victorian NAIDOC Committee in 2014 and 2015.

Elisha believes that if we all make sure our youth have a strong sense of belonging, reinforce cultural identity and make opportunities accessible we can better enable our youth to thrive and achieve their goals.


 Lesley Jackson

Lesley is a Wiradjuri woman from Gilgandra in Central West New South Wales. Lesley comes from a hospitality background and has grown from learning how to pour water in her local pub, to managing a cocktail bar in Hamilton Island, far North Queensland.

Lesley joined Crown’s Indigenous Program as an employee in 2009, with the goal to achieve and set an example for Indigenous people. Lesley was a runner-up of the Australian Training Awards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander of the Year in 2013. She started her Career at Crown Melbourne in Food and Beverage, moving onto Hotel Reservations and is now employed to support Indigenous Recruitment. She also worked previously within Human Resources and Recruitment with the Australian Red Cross.

Lesley is honoured to work within a diverse environment and shares in a passion and drive to succeed in closing the gap in Indigenous employment.

“Believe to Achieve” and “Respect those around you”.