Our People


The Honourable Steve Bracks, AC
The Honourable Steve Bracks, AC was one of Victoria’s longest serving Premiers, serving from October 1999 until his retirement in 2007.

Subsequent to his retirement as Premier of Victoria, The Hon Steve Bracks AC is currently  Chancellor of Victoria University, Chair of the Melbourne Cricket Ground Trust, Chair of Maurice Blackburn Law firm and holds numerous other positions.

He is Chairman of the superannuation fund Cbus, a non-executive Director of Jardine Lloyd Thomson Australia; and, a non-Executive Director of the Bank of Sydney. He was a Senior Adviser to KPMG from 2007 to 2012. He was also a member of the National Australia Bank’s Philanthropic Board from 2008 to 2013.
Mr Bracks was also the Independent Chair for the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) from 2008 to 2013.

During 2008 Mr Bracks was commissioned by the Federal Government to head a major review of the Australian Automotive Industry. He was the Automotive Envoy for the Australian Government 2009-2013. Additionally from 2011 to 2013 he was appointed Member of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Council for Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR).

He was also Honorary Chair of the Organising Committee for the World Road Cycling Championships held in Victoria in 2010. Mr Bracks received a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2010 for services to the Parliament and community of Victoria. In 2011 he was presented with the Timor-Leste Solidarity Medal. He has also received Honorary Doctorates from Federation University, Victoria University and Deakin University.

He is Patron of the Australia Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Vic) Ltd (ALCC); the Conservation Ecology Centre – Cape Otway; the Eureka Democracy Centre, Ballarat; the Hadassah Australia Foundation; the Seaworks Foundation, Williamstown; The Sir Rupert Hamer Records Management Awards; and the Western Melbourne Tourism Board.

He is also a leading advocate for both multiculturalism and Aboriginal reconciliation.

Board Members

The Balibó House Trust Board of Directors comprises members from some of the Australian-based families of the five journalists killed at Balibó, on 16th October 1975 and three other Directors.

John Milkins (Chair)
John Milkins is the Environmental Operations Coordinator at Banyule City Council.

With a passion for community and environmental resilience, he manages Council’s water sensitive urban design, stormwater harvesting, and wetland assets, while providing strategic guidance on integrated water management policy and practice.

In 2009, John was the subject of the ABC Australian Story feature “Flag of My Father”.  The story focussed on John’s discovery in adult life that his biological father, New Zealand cameraman Gary Cunningham, had been one of the five men murdered at Balibó on October 16th, 1975. A transcript of John’s Australian Story is available online at http://www.abc.net.au/austory/specials/flagfather/default.htm 

John is a 2011 Leadership Victoria Williamson Community Leadership Program Alumnus.

Shirley Shackleton (Life Member – Dec.)
Shirley Shackleton’s journalist husband, Greg was murdered in Balibó on 16th October 1975 with two TV news crews. Their human rights were ignored at every level and when Shirley pleaded justice for the Balibó Five she was dismissed as motivated by revenge and the atrocity was blamed on the victims.

‘I was always good at defending the rights of others, but the propaganda was huge,’ she says. On December 7th 1975 Indonesia invaded East Timor. Shirley switched her advocacy to freedom for East Timor assisted by eyewitnesses who had escaped the violence which was to lead to genocide.

Her campaign for East Timor over five continents gained strength and after a hair-raising visit to East Timor in 1989 she was invited to speak at the first world conference held into East Timor at Trinity College,
Oxford in 1990.

A television presenter and lecturer in textiles her life was enriched by amazing characters and escapades represented in her Walkley Award-winning history: The Circle of Silence – A personal testimony before, during and after Balibó.

Shirley lived in Melbourne and was still advocating for justice for Timor Leste and the Balibo Five until her final days.

Robert Hudson (Founding Chair 2002-2021)

Rob currently works as the Victorian State Manager of National Affordable Housing. Prior to that Rob worked as a Consultant in the social and community services sector, working with the Minister for Housing and the Department on new funding models for social housing under the Victorian government Big Housing Build.

Rob was the Group General Manager, Programs and Policy at the Brotherhood of St Laurence from 2011 to 2018 and a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly from 2002 to 2010.

During his time in Parliament, Rob was Chair of the Victorian Parliamentary Law Reform Committee, Parliamentary Secretary for Public Transport and the Arts, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier.

From 1999 to 2002, he held the position of Social Policy Director to the Premier of Victoria. In 1993, he was appointed Senior Advisor then Chief of Staff to the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia.

Prior to entering Parliament, Rob had a long career in the community sector including as the Executive Director of the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria and the Victorian Council of Social Service, and CEO of WorkPlacement.

Damien Kingsbury (Deputy Chair)

Emeritus Professor Damien Kingsbury is deputy chair of the Balibo House Trust and has been a board member since 2008. He held a Personal Chair and was Professor of International Politics at Deakin University, where he supervised research Masters and PhD students. His research interests include political and security issues in South-East Asia, particularly Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, the role of armed non-state actors and human rights issues.

He is widely published, having written, edited or co-edited more than two dozen books on these subjects.  A highly respected commentator on regional political affairs to domestic and international media, Damien had a weekly contribution to the ABC774’s Jon Faine program for 18 years, discussing international affairs, and since 2018 has had a similar weekly spot on ABC Victoria.

Damien led the Australian NGO observer group to the East Timor presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007, 2012, 2017 and 2018 , after leading observers to Timor-Leste’s 1999 UN-administered ballot on self-determination. In 2005, Professor Kingsbury was invited by the Crisis Management Initiative to advise the Free Aceh Movement in the successful Aceh peace talks being held in Helsinki. He has since advised a number of other regional organisations on methods of negotiating peaceful resolution to conflict. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damien_Kingsbury

Monica Ferrie (Secretary)
Monica is the Company Director of Bold and Brave Consulting, having started her own business in 2011.

Experience from a career spanning the private and public sectors in Australia and international projects in Timor-Leste provide a foundation for a successful organisation making a difference. Bold and Brave is an organisation with a range of services, tools and workshops designed to discover and action the power within individuals, organisations and institutions to perform to achieve the results they aspire to – in a sustainable, inclusive and responsible way.Transitioning from average results, doing ok and feeling ok to being extraordinary, achieving extraordinary results.

Monica is a Certified Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming with a diverse range of skills and experience underpinned by a Masters in Business Administration. Monica is currently Secretary of the Genetic Support Network of Victoria Committee of Management, an international presenter in the area of inclusion and has recently supported the Australian Team as an elite performance mindset coach at the World Dwarf Games.

Monica is committed to excellence, exploring and implementing pathways that will achieve and deliver it.

James Kelly (Treasurer)

James Kelly is a Partner at ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects, where he leads the Seniors Living & Care Sector. His team regularly collaborates on projects with Australia’s leading government, not-for-profit and commercial providers. It specialises in masterplanning and delivering integrated, inclusive, intergenerational communities designed to defy ageist stereotypes and support diversity, agency and social connections for seniors at all stages of life.

James began his architecture career in commercial, heritage, community and multi-residential design, but was drawn to seniors design by the need he saw for more innovative, community-focussed approaches that better suit contemporary residents, families and communities.

Collaborative, impact focused, and a passionate advocate for the power and responsibility of design to change lives for the better, James is an emerging thought leader in his sector on wide-ranging issues from industry design standards for seniors to masterplanning for community connection and fighting ageism through the built environment. Regular study tours, research and industry engagement inform his evidence-based approach.

James’s passion for community development led him to work with the Balibo Trust on its social enterprise Fort Hotel development. The success of this project and multiple visits to Balibo led to him join the board in 2015. Since that time he’s made it his mission to enhance the lives of residents in and around Balibo through the Trust’s school, healthcare, social enterprise, water and capacity-building projects.

Sara Currie 

Sara is a tourism and marketing specialist, currently working as Senior Tourism Expert for the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Her work is focussed on supporting tourism data and evidence-based planning, improving access to finance, enabling inclusive private sector-led tourism, and building crisis planning and resilience in the Pacific. Sara recently published a regional tourism assessment: Looking Forward: Evaluating the challenges for Pacific tourism after COVID-19 and works closely with the governments of Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu to support tourism strategy and planning.