Board of Directors

Board of Management

Timothy Croft
Timothy Croft

chairman of the board

Tim Croft has worked in health across the public and the private sectors for the last 20 years, initially as a physiotherapist and more recently in the Public Health sphere.

My custodial ties are to the Gurindji, Malgnin and Mudpurra peoples (NT). I also have Anglo/Irish/ German and Chinese heritage. My late Father, Joseph Croft, was a part of the Stolen Generations and was stolen as an infant from his Mum & community that were then living on the pastoral station Victoria River Downs (VRD).

It was at the insistence of my late Non-Aboriginal Mum that my Dad re-connect with his Mum, and family, after believing the lie that he was ‘given away’ throughout his life until then. And so in the mid- 1970s our family made those steps to reuniting my Dad with our much loved Grannie Bessie. We connected back to our family and later to Gurindji Country and many other Gurindji family who were also taken away from their custodial lands.

The profound damage through these child removal policies and other impacts of colonization must also be understood for their intergenerational and ongoing effect. Tim believes a key step to further “Close the Gap” in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage and health and social and emotional wellbeing outcomes must be through proper engagement and being lead by local Aboriginal Communities and also should include empowerment through building capacity in Aboriginal individuals, communities and Aboriginal community controlled organizations.

Solutions must be developed from the ground up and grounded in local knowledge and be strengths-based. Others have said this before – Aboriginal people have the solutions to address our health and other key issues in communities – Nothing about us without us.

He has been the Manager of the Aboriginal Health Unit in South Eastern Sydney Local Health District since 2016. Before this Tim worked in Allied Health, as a Physio across both Public and private sectors as a clinician, then across the Public Health sector over the last 6 years following a Master of Public Health, specializing in Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing (UNSW).

Tim’s love of sport and connecting in community influenced many volunteer roles in Aboriginal community, sports, youth and young adult and empowerment programs and organizations through his career.

Most importantly he loves seeing his kids do well at school and sport and being grounded and connected back to our cultural identity through family, community and connection to Country (even though it’s a long way from where the family live in Sydney).

Peter Cooley
peter cooley


Peter grew up in the southern Sydney suburb of La Perouse and is a founding member of First Hand Solutions. He spent 20 years as a Diesel Mechanic as well as 10 years volunteering his time in his community running programs.

Peter started his award winning company Koori Communications & Training in 2005 running cultural programs for Aboriginal people and families throughout NSW and Queensland.

Peter has spoken at a number of international conferences and been the recipient of a number of significant awards for his work in Aboriginal communities. He received a Future Summit leadership award in 2007 and the inaugural Premiers Excellence award in 2009 for aboriginal education and graduated from a post-graduate course in Social Impact from the School for Social Impact from the University of NSW in 2015.

Most recently, First Hand  organised the National Indigenous Bushfood Symposium attended by 120 First Nations people from across Australia out of which formed  First Nations Bushfood and Botanical Alliance Australia of which he is the NSW Director and for which First Hand acts in the voluntary position of Secretariat.

John Evans
John Evans


John Evans is currently Professor of Indigenous Health Education in the Faculty of Health at the University of Technology Sydney. John comes from Wiradjuri country but has spent the majority of his adult life in Sydney.

John has established a significant research program in the area of Indigenous sport and the relationship between sport, health and education in Indigenous communities. John has a background in elite sport as an athlete and coach and continues to work with elite coaches in Australia and New Zealand.

John has been appointed as a director to the newly formed Charles Perkins Soccer Academy. Having previously been part of the early development phase of the Lloyd McDermott rugby Development team and served as board member coach and mentor.

John continues to mentor young Indigenous men and women in their ambitions to finish university studies. John is married and has a young daughter.

Paul D
Paul Duroux


Paul Duroux completed a Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management & Industrial Relations) at the University of Western Sydney before entering the Corporate world in various Account & People Management roles over the last 17 years.

A proud Gumbaynggirr man and father to a strong 14-year-old young woman, he believes that connection to culture, developing an environment of self-discovery & self-confidence and opportunity will foster a culture of success for our youth.

He is an ardent supporter of diversity & inclusion and currently sits on an Industry Body Council with the task of providing support & training on the benefits of, and how to achieve, a more diverse & inclusive workplace. He also currently volunteers with the Raise Foundation, an organisation which provides mentoring programs for young people in high schools and in the community.

Paul’s is passionate about sports & health and well-being and is currently in training for his first ironman.

Janelle Clarke
Janelle Clarke


I am an Aboriginal woman from Biripi (Purfleet/Taree). My mother is from Biripi and my father is from Worimi clan.

I have held senior roles in Aboriginal Affairs in areas such as education, housing, employment, legal and justice in both the Commonwealth and State (NSW) Public Service and with community organisations. My extensive community and work experience is armed with experience in leadership, financial management, human resources, IT, programs and project management skills and many more.

I had worked at Link-Up (NSW) as the Chief Executive Officer in 2020/21 and at the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT from 2017 until April 2020 in the role of Chief Operating Officer and the Acting Chief Executive Officer (12 months).

I was a board member of the ALS NSW/ACT for almost 2 terms (3 years per term). I also was on the board of Tranby Aboriginal College.

I was a member of CAPO (Coalition Of Aboriginal Peak Organisations) whilst CEO with Link-Up (NSW) and A/CEO with the ALS NSW/ACT, Women’s Advisory Council for NSW Corrective Services and have been on the First Nations Advisory Committee for the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ NSW. I had completed a Bachelor of Business Administration at UTS and graduated in May 2018.

Lois Peeler
Lois Peeler

First Hand Patron

Lois’ childhood was spent on orchards in Shepparton East and Orrvale districts of the Goulburn Valley after her family moved from the Cummeragunja Aboriginal Reserve near Barmah. These experiences have shaped the lives of Lois’ family who have been very active in Aboriginal community development. Lois’ mother Mrs Geraldine Briggs AO was awarded for her work in this field. Lois’ sister the late Hyllus Maris was a visionary and writer who wrote Women of the Sun and established Worawa Aboriginal College in Healesville.

Lois has had a varied career which includes being the first Aboriginal model and the first Aboriginal person to work in television when she was engaged to work on the GTV 9 Breakfast Session in the 60’s. Lois and her sisters formed a singing group the Sapphires which toured Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam war. Lois’ nephew Aboriginal playwright Tony Briggs wrote about these experiences in the smash hit ‘The Sapphires’ which as a stage play completed sell out seasons in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth before going on to be a to take 11 of 12 awards at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award (AACTA).

Lois has extensive experience in Aboriginal Affairs having worked in the Aboriginal community sector, the State and Federal public service sector and in the corporate sector.   This experience includes all facets of Aboriginal community development including government, policy development, program implementation, project management, employment and education.

Lois worked for sixteen years at a senior level within Federal and State Government departments managing Aboriginal Affairs. Positions held include being Manager of the Aboriginal Employment Unit of the Public Service Board, an elected representative of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), Director of the Board of the Indigenous Land Corporation, Director of Land Enterprise Australia, Chairperson of Aboriginal Tourism Australia. She was instrumental in the development of the Respecting Our Culture (ROC) accreditation program for the Australian tourism industry. Lois is co-author of the Yorta Yorta Language Heritage Program and author of the Aboriginal Oral History of the Flats.

She is Chair of the Regional Justice Advisory Committee (Eastern) and holds the position of Executive Director of Worawa Aboriginal College.