Dharug Strategic Management Group is a Dharug-led Non-Profit Organisation. Our purpose is to advance the culture and wellbeing of the Dharug people and promote reconciliation, respect and harmony between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. We do this through managing and caring for Country that returns to Dharug ownership.
The BNI Site
In October 2018, the DSMG was handed back the site of the Blacktown Native Institute (BNI) to manage and care for this land for the Dharug Community. This land is the first of Dharug Nura (Country) to return to Dharug ownership and is a place to connect to Country, culture and community.
This land hosted the Native Institution from 1823-1829 following the transfer of the Parramatta Native Institution, which was established by Lachlan Macquarie in 1815. This is one of the first known sites where Aboriginal children were removed from their parents and institutionalised – a practice that continued until the 1970s. The BNI Site is a landmark in the history of black-white relations in Australia, representing an important element of the colonial relationship with Dharug people and the broader Aboriginal community.
The BNI Site is not only a place that represents this sad and reprehensible part of colonial history. It is a place of reflection, healing and hope, and connects us to thousands of years of Dharug culture and Nura (Country).
We are an organisation for Dharug people, managed by Dharug people to promote connection to Country and community through culture, ceremony and responsible custodianship. We continue a long journey, remembering and respecting the resilience, strength and spirit of Dharug Nura and our ancestors.
DSMG is led by a volunteer Board of Directors. The company's constitution requires a majority of Dharug Directors at all times, and a Dharug majority in all meetings to ensure the company is always led by Dharug community thinking and priorities.
Our current Board members are:
Julie Jones (Webb) (Chair and Dharug Director) is a proud Dharug woman, Traditional Custodian and Knowledge Keeper from multiple fresh and saltwater clans. She works as an advocate, educator, consultant, artist and mentor. She is currently the Chairperson of Dharug Strategic Management Group (DSMG), and a former Chairperson of the Darug Ngurra Aboriginal Corporation and recently led creation of Dharug Allies for Nura Alliance. Julie also works closely with the Jannawi Dance Clan as cultural advisor and has been involved in presenting their work on the BNI site on several occasions, including at the historic return of the site to Dharug care. Julie is deeply invested in supporting Aboriginal art and culture, its truth and power. Julie works on First Nation Interpretation Design and Art in the Public and Private sectors advising on and producing public art works. Recent cultural programs and visual arts projects include; Sydney Metro West and Tony Albert’s Ngara – Ngurangwa Byallara (Listen, hear, think – The Place Speaks), part of the Blacktown Native Institution Project 2018. She played a leading role in The Gulbangali Dharug Nura Project for NIRIN 22nd Biennale of Sydney 2020. She is also a board member of Information + Cultural Exchange Parramatta and member of I.C.E.’s Dharug Knowledge Holders Group and advise on the First Nations programs collaborating with I.C.E. Producer, First Nations Programs.
Michelle Locke (Secretary and Dharug Director) is a proud Dharug woman, a descendant of the Boorooberongal Tribe (Richmond NSW) and a direct descendant of Maria Lock (Bolongaia), through my maternal Grandmother. I am a granddaughter, daughter, sister, mother, and aunt. Family is what motivates and guides me every day. Currently, Michelle is employed at Western Sydney University as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Office of Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Leadership on the Developing Indigenous Early Career Researches ARC project. The role of Director and Secretary of the Dharug Strategic Management Group is one I take very seriously. I acknowledge that as Dharug people we have endured much ignorance and racism even though many peoples have and continue to benefit from the collective skills, talents and determination of Dharug people. I hope to continue contributing my time and effort to seeing Dharug People recognised and valued on our own Country and to creating a culturally safe space for us to share with our children for many generations to come.
Lesley Woodhouse (Dharug Director) is a Dharug woman from the Boorooberongal clan. She is the founder and CEO of Wingaru Education, a specialist organisation developing and delivering education programs and resources to support schools, teachers and organisations. Lesley has a strong background in Aboriginal Affairs, Leadership, Strategic Planning, Research, and Adult Education. She is a strong business development professional with a Master of Business Administration. Lesley is passionate about changing the way Australia talks about Aboriginal people and the issues impacting our communities through supporting a greater understanding amongst the wider community.
Lucy Schroeder (Dharug Director) has connections to Boorooberongal and Warmuli clans. She grew up on Ngarigo country in Jindabyne and moved to Sydney in 2017 for university. She is on an ongoing journey of connecting to and learning about Country, culture, and community. She is in the 5th year of her undergraduate law degree at the University of Sydney, having finished a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Government and International Relations) in 2019. She is a recipient of the Robinson Family Scholarship and was previously a Katrina Dawson Foundation Scholar at the Women’s College. Lucy is passionate about human rights and challenging racists systems. She is a Paralegal at the National Justice Project, where she assists on matters relating to discrimination, police misconduct and deaths in custody, as well as working on matters relating to Australia’s offshore detention of Asylum seekers. She is the undergraduate representative on the University of Sydney Law School’s Indigenous Strategy and Services Committee.
Richie Howitt (Director-Finance, Public Officer) is a non-Indigenous man born on and still living with Wallemadegal Nura. He joined the Board in August 2018 and was appointed Director-Finance in May 2019. He is also Justice of the Peace and Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. His governance experience includes membership of the Macquarie University Council (2014-2017) as a staff elected member. He was Professor of Geography at Macquarie University. Richie’s commitment to Indigenous rights and non-Indigenous responsibility to address colonial and contemporary injustice has seen him working with a wide range of community and representative organisations. He served as a researcher for the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, led technical advice to native title negotiations in South Australia, and contributed to major social impact studies for resource and infrastructure projects for Indigenous groups. Since retiring in 2017, he continues to support Indigenous staff, students and colleagues across the higher education sector.
Our Past Directors
DSMG acknowledges the contribution of past Board members, whose generosity and leadership have helped us on our journey to support yura and Nura.
Dr Shane Smithers* (2018)
Peter Lee* (2018-2019)
Dr Jo Anne Rey* (2018-2020)
Marcus Hughes (2019)
Corina Norman* (2018-2021)
Nathan Ross (2018-2021)
Joel Steller (2020-2021)
Ryan Barrett* (2019-2022)
* Dharug Directors
The DSMG Constitution governs our operations and management.
You can review the Constitution here.
DSMG Directors observe a Code of Conduct that explains the standard of behaviour required of Directors of DSMG Ltd from the date of their appointment. The behaviours are essential to how Directors and statutory office holders perform their duties. Adherence to this Code of Conduct is foundational for the relationships a Director of DSMG Ltd has with other Directors, officers and members of the company, the people and organisations with whom DSMG Ltd collaborates to achieve its charitable purpose, and the wider communities whose interests in the BNI site DSMG Ltd works to protect and advance.
You can review the Directors' Code of Conduct here.
DSMG reports annually to the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (ACNC). You can review our Annual Reports here.
2019 Annual Report
Access the report here
2020 Annual Report
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2021 Annual Report
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