Board of Directors

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Tycho Buningh - Chairman

Tycho Buningh is a port management and logistics consultant. Tycho has extensive experience in management and has held a number of senior executive roles in port administration and the shipping industry, including roles in port operations and port infrastructure planning, coastal shipping operations, business development, project management and commercial management. Tycho is also the founder of Winangali Logistics, an independent majority owned Indigenous logistics company providing road transport, warehousing, pick ‘n’ pack, inventory management, integrated logistics and supply chain solutions.

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Aurelius Yan - Director

Aurelius Yan is a proud Mentawai elder from Siberut Island. In 1979, Aurelius began working as a teacher in the hinterland communities of Siberut. Within this role, Aurelius offered assistance in finding solutions for day-to-day issues, but as these were general problems relating to traditional culture, he found it difficult because he himself was not yet acquainted with his traditional Mentawai knowledge. In 1983, Aurelius was invited to guide a Dutch anthropologist on Siberut and through this, he himself became drawn to anthropology. Aurelius soon accompanied the anthropologist to the Netherlands and began studying anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit, in Amsterdam. In addition, he undertook studies in medical anthropology. Completing his study, Aurelius pursued multiple jobs in Amsterdam, including assisting Prof. Dr Reimar Schefold in interpreting Mentawaian transcriptions. Whilst relevant, Aurelius realised his purpose was, in fact, to do meaningful work for the people of the Mentawai Islands. In 2003, Aurelius was invited to coordinate healthcare projects for NGOs Kirekat and a Reimar Schefold Foundation funded by Cordaid, so Aurelius decided to move back to his homeland – Mentawai. For 7 years Aurelius coordinated expeditions through the rainforests of Siberut Island. The main objective was to combine modern healthcare with traditional Mentawai medical systems in remote areas. He coordinated doctors to visit several of these remote communities on a regular basis to provide medical examinations and essential medicine. Additionally, he provided consultation whilst coordinating various projects subsequent to tsunamis in Aceh and Sikakap; and made an unsuccessful attempt to be elected as Regent of the Mentawai Islands. Hence, in 2012 Aurelius took a step back and pursued a role managing a tourism resort in Bunaken island, North of Sulawesi. Missing Mentawai, Aurelius moved back home again after a year and built a traditional Mentawaian longhouse called a Uma on a beautiful bounty island, called: Karangmajat. After a few years, his daughter Sitta joined him and Umata Village was born. When Aurelius is not providing his support to Mentawai’s grassroot cultural-based education initiatives, he is sharing his expansive knowledge of the history, culture, traditions and ecology on Siberut with guests.

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Emmanuela Shinta - Director

Emmanuela Shinta is a Dayak leader, activist, environmentalist, filmmaker and writer with a reputation for leading and empowering indigenous youth. Her work has been recognized widely in the Asia Pacific through her YOUTH ACT CAMPAIGN, an indigenous youth movement for climate action as a response to forest fire and haze in 2015. In 2016, Emmanuela founded an organisation called Ranu Welum Foundation, through which she has trained hundreds of young indigenous people to use audio-visual media to speak about indigenous people’s rights. She has been speaking about Dayak people across international forums and bringing the stories from Kalimantan Island to a global audience through films and her book ME, MODERNISM AND MY INDIGENOUS ROOTS. Emmanuela is also the founder of the International Indigenous Film Festival series across South East Asia. In 2018, Emmanuela began a world storytelling tour themed around Indigenous Stories That Matter, which travelled through the United States, Australia, Europe and many Asian countries.

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Tri Duc Nguyen - Director

Tri Duc Nguyen arrived in Australia from Vietnam by boat as part of the UNHCR Refugee Program in the early 1980s, at a young age. Having benefitted greatly from growing up in strong supportive communities that encouraged cultural diversity and importantly retention, he is particularly keen to ensure that Indigenous cultures are maintained wherever possible and through empowerment. Professionally, he is currently the General Counsel and Company Secretary of Redundancy Payment Central Fund Ltd (Incolink), a redundancy fund for the Commercial Building and Civil Construction industry in Victoria and Tasmania.  He is an accomplished corporate lawyer with substantial commercial and legal experience, particularly in the areas of M&A, Capital Raising, Litigation, Corporate Law, Corporate Governance (ASX listed entities & Government), Company Secretarial & Compliance (ASX listed entities & Government), General Commercial Law, Property, Industrial Law and Intellectual Property. Tri has been in practice for over 22 years with 18 years in various senior in-house roles at ASX listed entities and Federal Government. He is a founding Board member of the Vietnamese Australian Benevolent Foundation (SA) and a Director of Clean Swell Dreaming Pty Ltd.

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Jade Preston - Director

Jade Preston has dedicated twenty years of her career to supporting disadvantaged individuals in align with her strong sense of social justice. Within her current role in the Department of Health and Human Services she is tasked with supporting vulnerable individuals with complex needs who are experiencing significant challenges navigating disability and mainstream systems. Jade works with people at risk of homelessness, justice involvement, children in the protection system and those unable to leave mental health facilities due to a lack of support in the community. An integral element of Jade’s work is to empower each mainstream interface by building capacity, and ensuring each intersect is held accountable to their responsibilities. Jade brings a wealth of hands-on experience and knowledge to the IEF Board.

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Rob Henry -
Founder and President

Rob Henry has worked with marginalised groups at a grass-root level for over a decade. Since 2008, Rob has lived and worked with the Mentawai community in western Sumatra, conducting anthropological research focused on Indigenous cultural knowledge, oral literature and the cause and impacts of loss of connection with their culture, land and its resources. In 2014, Rob founded the Indigenous Education Foundation (IEF) to empower the Mentawai community and other Indigenous peoples across the globe to reconnect with and further strengthen their culture as a means to prevent poverty. In 2017, Rob produced and directed award-winning documentary film, As Worlds Divide, which, filmed over the course of 8 years living with the Mentawai, explores the impacts of displacement and provides a compelling insight into the value of Indigenous knowledge in relation to some of today’s greatest global challenges. Rob has held the position of Chairman of the IEF board of Directors from 2014 – 2018. He continues volunteering his time as IEF President and working closely with our Indigenous partners.

Volunteers

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Damian Sutherland - Treasurer

Damian Sutherland is Senior Director at a leading Australian Accounting firm, William Buck, and holds numerous Board positions.

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Rob Henry -
Founder and President

Rob Henry has worked with marginalised groups at a grass-root level for over a decade. Since 2008, Rob has lived and worked with the Mentawai community in western Sumatra, conducting anthropological research focused on Indigenous cultural knowledge, oral literature and the cause and impacts of loss of connection with their culture, land and its resources. In 2014, Rob founded the Indigenous Education Foundation (IEF) to empower the Mentawai community and other Indigenous peoples across the globe to reconnect with and further strengthen their culture as a means to prevent poverty. In 2017, Rob produced and directed award-winning documentary film, As Worlds Divide, which, filmed over the course of 8 years living with the Mentawai, explores the impacts of displacement and provides a compelling insight into the value of Indigenous knowledge in relation to some of today’s greatest global challenges. Rob has held the position of Chairman of the IEF board of Directors from 2014 – 2018. He continues volunteering his time as IEF President and working closely with our Indigenous partners.

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Pamela Varela -
Financial advisor

Pamela Varela has over 9 years of actuarial professional experience. She has worked in various fields including consultancy, health insurance, workers compensations, data analysis and so forth. Pamela is passionate about education and helping others to thrive. Aside from this, she enjoys practicing yoga, reading and learning. etc.

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Samantha Lee -
Operations Manager

Samantha Lee is currently studying a Bachelors in Forest Science and Management and is passionate about humans and their relationship to their forests – both economically, socially and spiritually. With a B of Digital Media also under her belt, she brings to IEF many years of experience leading and inspiring teams. When not busying herself with the operational ins and outs of IEF (volunteer), she spends her time enamoured by biodiversity and eucalypts.

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Lizzy Medynskyj -
Creative Designer

With over 7 years professional graphic design experience across Sydney and London, Lizzy Medynskyj has a real passion for learning and strives to live a selfless life helping others through her creativity and compassion. Lizzy has voluntarily offered her services as IEF’s Creative Designer to support positive change for Indigenous cultures and the planet at large.

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Hoang Linh Bui -
IT Systems Administrator - Intern

Linh graduated a double degree course in Computer Science and Games & Interactivity at the Swinburne University of Technology. Although he specializes in Game Development, he is looking to explore more of the IT industry and thanks to his fascination toward exploring different cultures, he finds the internship at IEF a great opportunity to develop his career and his knowledge. He is hoping to contribute to IEF’s projects with his unique skill set and cultural values. In his spare time, he likes to read books, listen to music and play games as well as giving them in-depth analyses and sometimes even does volunteer translation works from Japanese to English. He also practices Kenjutsu, a Japanese martial arts to stay healthy and maintain discipline.

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Prashant Sumeet -
Fundraising Coordinator

Prashant is a highly skilled individual with nearly two decades of rich, cross cultural business development experience across a diverse range of working environments. This experience includes establishing and leading local start-ups, through to supporting international and corporate strategic management. Prashant has a multitude of qualifications from a variety of institutions in India and Australia, including an MBA in Operations, Marketing and Finance, a Bachelor of Technology, and nearly a dozen post graduate certificate qualifications from Disability and Aged Care to philanthropic business development, strategic social innovation, leadership, and fundraising.

Prashant has also held and consulted across a variety of roles including strategic management, sales, marketing, operations, project management, risk management, sustainability, assessment and evaluation, economic analysis, market research, and policy development. Prashant thrives in competitive and challenging environments, can visualize and comprehend most situations coming from a variety of cultural and professional perspectives. A solution focused practitioner, skilled negotiator, and with experience across multiple sectors and levels of operational focus, Prashant is eagerly supporting IEF with social innovation initiatives designed to empower and improve opportunities and outcomes in the Indigenous communities we support.  

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Shooghufa Noori -
Academic Researcher

Shooghufa Noori has a degree in History, which often overlaps studies on indigenous history. At present, Shooghufa is completing a certification entitled Community, Engagement, Development, and Leadership. Her professional background includes working in the UAE as a world history teacher, educating local students. Shooghufa has also had the opportunity to assist in curriculum development, department planning, and allocated resource planning whilst in her role as Head of Department in various private schools in the UAE. Her volunteering experience includes the Global Youth Network (GYN), a youth-led organization focused on nation-building and community engagement. Working with GYN for a number of years, Shooghufa was responsible for recruiting, training, and leading groups of youth on international service-learning trips – including to Greece, Sri Lanka, and Kenya. Shooghufa has also had experience as a junior research assistant for the York International Athens Program (provided by York University in Toronto, Canada). Whilst in Athens, Shooghufa had the opportunity to assume the role of assistant professor, as a researcher on local historical sites – particularly focused on how historical sites have and continue to affect local communities.
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Charlotte Lee -
Finance & Bookeeping

TBA

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Isabelle Barlow -
IEF Linguistic Assistant

Isabelle commenced volunteering with the Indigenous Education Foundation in 2021, providing support in the revision of the Mentawai Rereiket-Indonesian dictionary. Isabelle graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2018 after completing the Bachelor of Arts (Linguistics and Indonesian) and Master of Speech Pathology. These degrees developed Isabelle’s interest and passion for indigenous languages, in particular the role of language in preserving culture and knowledge for First Nations communities. Isabelle currently works as a paediatric Speech Pathologist, a role which has highlighted for her the importance of exposing children to ancestral languages, and the benefits of immersing children in language-rich environments. Isabelle strongly believes in the relationship between indigenous language learning and self-identity, and is excited to support the Mentawai community to empower the next generation of Mentawai Sarereiket speakers.

To achieve our mission supporting Indigenous-led education programs, IEF relies on support from donors.

IEF supports the 2030 UN
Sustainable Development Goals.

ACN: 168 130 096

ABN: 67 168 130 096