Reconciliation Australia Co-Chairs Ms Melinda Cilento and Dr Tom Calma AO today announced the appointment of Mr Kenny Bedford to its Board of Directors.

Mr Bedford will replace the long-serving Mr Terry Waia as the Torres Strait Islander representative on the Board.

“Mr Bedford brings a wealth of experience successfully representing his people and playing a key role in negotiating challenging management arrangements in Torres Strait Fisheries,” said Dr Calma. “The return of ownership of the Torres Strait fin fishery to the traditional owners has been one of the great success stories in amicably resolving competing interests between Indigenous and other Australians.

“The movement for reconciliation will benefit from Mr Bedford’s intellect and his knowledge of Torres Strait Islander culture and aspirations.”

Mr Bedford represents the remote Island of Erub on the Torres Strait Regional Authority and has held the Executive position of Portfolio Member for Fisheries since 2008. He is President of the Erub Fisheries Management Association, a member of Erubam Le Traditional Land and Sea Owners (TSI) Corporation and sits on Far North Queensland’s Abergowrie College Community Consultative Committee.

Mr Bedford has a Bachelor of Applied Health Science and Diploma of Youth Welfare, received the Vincent Fairfax Fellowship in 2000, and is a current participant of the Australian Rural Leadership Program.

Co-Chair Melinda Cilento said Mr Bedford’s role in supporting Torres Strait Islander engagement in commercial fisheries would add value to Reconciliation Australia’s focus on First Peoples’ employment and education. “His advisory role at St Theresa’ Abergowrie College will also be of benefit to this target,” she said.

Mr Bedford said that his life in one of Australia’s most remote areas has given him a keen interest in improving living standards for his people and ensuring access to the same level of service delivery available to mainland Australians.

“I see Reconciliation Australia as a vehicle for developing national solidarity and for harnessing the good will of all Australians towards the goals of improved housing, employment and education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said. “I want to contribute to reconciliation between all Australians and I want my people to be part of a country that respects our respective cultures and abilities and provides every opportunity for us to all meet our full potential. I look forward to the challenges and the achievements that being a Board member will bring.”

Dr Calma and Ms Cilento both expressed profound thanks for Mr Waia’s long service to the Board and the cause of reconciliation.

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