Commissioner C’Zarke Maza
Office of the Commissioner (Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazip)
Mr C’Zarke Maza (pronounced ‘See-zark Mar-zah’) LL.M is a descendant of the Meriam people of Mer (Murray Island) in the Torres Strait Islands and Yidinjdji people from the coast of Cairns. He commenced duties as the inaugural Commissioner (Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa) (pronounced ‘Merry–bah Oh–mus–ker Kah–zeew Kah–zipper’) in July 2021.
C’Zarke works to bring world-first, historic, legal recognition of Torres Strait Island traditional child rearing practices and taking the next step towards healing the community through culturally appropriate laws for First Nations people.
C’Zarke takes up the Office of Commissioner (Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa) after 10 years with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS) where he served as the Regional Manager and Legal Practitioner on Thursday Island. As the Regional Manager, C’Zarke was instrumental in establishing an ATSILS regional office on Thursday Island and a satellite office in Bamaga to provide professional and culturally competent legal services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Torres Strait Islands and the Northern Peninsula Area. Further, in that period C’Zarke successfully developed collaborative partnerships in the Torres Strait Islands and the Northern Peninsula Area with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, key government and non-government stakeholders to influence positive change and deliver high quality legal services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within or exposed to the justice system.
Further, C’Zarke was first admitted as a solicitor and barrister in 2002 and has extensive experience in law, advocating for, and engaging with, Torres Strait Islander people. As a Torres Strait Islander person, C’Zarke brings with him a deep and inherent understanding of the diversity and sensitivity of traditional child rearing practice.
Mr Simon Bright
Regional Manager/ Legal Practitioner
Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS) Cairns
Simon is the Regional Manager of the Cairns office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service. ATSILS provides a free legal service for Indigenous people who might not otherwise be able to obtain legal representation. The Cairns office represents clients from Innisfail, the Atherton Tablelands, Cairns and the small communities in Cape York as far as Weipa. ATSILS is the largest criminal defence organisation in Cairns.
Prior to working with ATSILS Simon have worked as both a prosecutor and a defence barrister.
Commencing in 1997, he worked for the Queensland Police for 15 years, the majority of that was as a Police Prosecutor.
Simon then worked for eight years in Melbourne at the Victorian Bar as a Barrister, practising initially in the criminal jurisdiction but also in Family Violence matters as well as some work in the Federal Courts dealing with Family Law matters. Although he took briefs from both prosecution and defence while at the Bar, Simon’s practise was predominantly defence work.
Mr Kaleb Mabo
Anthropology & Archaeology
Student – JCU Cairns, Grandson of Eddie Koiki and Bonita Mabo
Environmental Defenders Office, Cairns
Naim grew up in Townsville North Queensland, studying a joint Arts-Law degree at James Cook University where he graduated with honours in both Arts and Law.
After graduating, he volunteered at the Environmental Defenders Office and was offered a paid position when he was admitted as a solicitor in 2019.
In his 3 years of practice, Naim has provided members of the public and community groups free legal advice on a broad range of public interest environmental matters, from protest and freedom of speech to cultural heritage, climate change and the Great Barrier Reef.
He also actively engages in seeking changes to our environmental laws; authoring reports and submissions to proposed laws, and appearing before parliamentary committees. His most recent Report focused on how flying-foxes can be sustainably managed by co-designing and implementing management plans in accordance with local First Nations Cultural Protocols.
Mr Stephen Grace
Community and Health Justice Partnerships, LawRight, Cairns
Stephen has managed LawRight’s Community and Health Justice Partnership program since 2016. The CHJP program assists people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to resolve the complex, interrelated legal issues connected to an experience of housing instability.
Steve holds a strong belief that the law and our legal system can affect positive outcomes for the most vulnerable members of our community. Essentially, that good laws can have a positive impact on society. His work with LawRight allows him the opportunity to help people navigate our legal system to enforce their legal rights and protections.
Steve is passionate about the work he does and appreciates any opportunity to discuss the positive impact lawyers can have in the community.
Prosecution Services, Far North District (Cairns), Legal Division
Natalie is a Senior Prosecutor for the Queensland Police Service, appearing in court for the prosecution in trials, sentences and bail applications in the Magistrates Courts in Far North Queensland. Natalie has been a lawyer for 5 years, starting out as a defence lawyer before moving to prosecutions for the police. She also worked as a Judge’s Associate. Natalie is a Lieutenant in the Royal Australian Navy Reserves. Natalie is passionate about getting people excited about working in the criminal law field, where the days are always exciting, interesting and fun.
Natalie is accompanied today by three up and coming officers:
Alyx Still, Cairns Criminal Investigation Branch; Leigh Coutler, Tactical Crime Squad; and Declan Oliver, General Duties / Community Policing.
Shaune was admitted to legal practice in 2008, and holds a Bachelor of Arts majoring in cultural studies, a Bachelor of Laws with 1st Class Honours, as also a Master of Laws majoring in Family Dispute Resolution Practice.
Shaune is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator, a panel Mediator for the Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal, a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, an accredited Family Law Arbitrator, a sessional member of the Cairns AFL Tribunal, and lastly a sessional lecturer at JCU in Cairns, teaching criminal law and the law of evidence to 2nd and 3rd year law students.
Ms Michelle Cioffi
Cape York land Council, Cairns
Michelle Cioffi is the Principal Lawyer at Cape York Land Council with carriage of the Cape York United #1 Claim. She specialises in the prosecution of native title claims and the delivery of legal, policy and strategic advice to registered native title body corporates. She is also skilled in dispute resolution and is a nationally accredited mediator. Michelle has over ten years’ experience working with Aboriginal communities in both South Australia and Queensland and is fiercely committed to helping Traditional Owners have their native title determined across Cape York.
Cape York land Council (CYLC), Cairns
Parky Wirrick is a Legal Officer at Cape York Land Council. Parky works primarily on sea claims in the Cape York region and is responsible for tenure analysis for the Cape York United #1 Claim. Parky brings a wealth of knowledge and legal administration expertise, having previously worked as a Legal Case Manager at the Federal Court Registry. He also spent three years working as a Prosecutor in Vanuatu, and believes that strong community engagement is key to achieving outcomes for local communities both in Australia and abroad.
Michelle Friday Mooka
Senior Community and Stakeholder, Engagement Officer
Cape York land Council (CYLC), Cairns
Michelle is an Eastern Yalanji, Olkola, Kabi Kabi, Wakka Wakka, and Bwgcolman woman with family connections across the Cape and Southern QLD. She was recently appointed Chair of the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC, Land Trust and Cultural Heritage Body and previously worked for the organisation for three years as executive assistant.
She is also the senior community and stakeholder engagement officer for the Cape York Land Council’s Community Relations Unit. Michelle is a strong advocate for Traditional Owners’ voices and Reconciliation and quotes: “Native Title is only a part of delivering justice to First Nations People, Reconciliation means working together to correct the legacy of past injustices collectively, which is what we should be working on”.
Welcome to Country
Sam Savage, Bindal Traditional Owner
Mr Terry Stedman
Lawyer, Caxton Legal Centre, Brisbane
Terry was born in Toowoomba and raised in Inala. His father, a Kamilaroi man was from Tingha in the NSW northern tablelands.
Terry is a solicitor at Caxton Community Legal Centre principally working with Domestic and Family Violence matters.
Starting work as a plumber Terry went on to become a prison officer at Boggo Road jail in 1989, and was later appointed as one of eight Commissioners with the Queensland Correctional Services Commission.
As a mature aged student, Terry undertook a Bachelor of Indigenous Studies and Bachelor of Laws and upon graduation commenced as an associate lecturer at Griffith University.
Following academia, Terry worked as a Solicitor for 10 years with the Community Legal Centre in Inala.
Terry was an inaugural member of the Indigenous Lawyers Association of Queensland and was a board member of Welfare Rights Qld and the Stolen Wages Committee Qld. He is a member of the Indigenous Elders reference and consultative committee with Metro South Health and is Chair of the Logan Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Elders.
Ms Gail Mabo
Multi -Disciplinary Artist
Ms Gail Mabo is a multi-disciplinary artist, whose practices include dance, acting, and visual art. Born to the revered land rights and political activists Eddie Koiki and Bonita Mabo, she completed her early education at the first school for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Townsville which was opened by her father in the 1970s. Gail studied dance at the Aboriginal and Islander Dance Theatre in Sydney in the 1980s, before going on to perform in theatre and film as a choreographer and dancer. In the 2000s, Gail started to develop her visual arts practice. She has enjoyed immediate success as a visual artist that has seen her involved in many group and solo exhibitions across Australia. Her work has been collected by major State and national galleries and deals with contemporary expressions of Indigenous identity. Much of her work is inspired by connection to land, and invites the audience to reflect on their own lives and experiences within this land. Gail is also a highly sought-after public speaker and the mother of triplets.
Adjunct Professor Bill Mitchell OAM, HonLLD
Principal Solicitor, Townsville Community Law
Bill was JCU’s first admitted solicitor in 1992. He was made an Outstanding Alumni of JCU in 2012. JCU awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Laws in 2021 and he is an Adjunct Associate Professor with the College of Law. He was awarded the Australian Human Rights Commission Law Award in 2008, the Law Council of Australia’s President’s Medal in 2019 and a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2020.
Bill has thirty years of legal practice in diverse areas including human rights, refugee and immigration, and public law. His principal area of expertise is the human rights of older persons, and he has regularly appeared in and consulted for the United Nations on this issue for more than a decade. He has been involved in program service design in areas including elder abuse and disaster legal response.
Ms Tina Hoyer
Senior Lawyer, ATO
Tina Hoyer is a government Senior Lawyer and is currently working with the Australian Taxation Office. She has over 22 years of experience as a lawyer in both the private and public sectors. Tina is also a:
- Flight Lieutenant of the Royal Australian Air Force Specialist Reserves (Legal);
- a sessional law lecturer and tutor at James Cook University for the past 15 years; and
- a Nationally Accredited Mediator with 10 years of experience dealing with commercial and workplace disputes.
Tina holds a Bachelor of Laws (James Cook University); a Master of Laws (Queensland University of Technology), a Graduate Certificate of Military Law (Australian National University) and has just commenced a PhD at James Cook University.
Ms Lorelei Billing
Solicitor, Legal Aid, Townsville
Lorelei Billing is Quandamooka, Bundjalung and South Sea Islander woman, born and raised in Townsville, where she is a Criminal Solicitor at Legal Aid Queensland. Lorelei holds a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Queensland University of Technology and a Bachelor of Laws from James Cook University. Lorelei was admitted to practice as a Solicitor in 2015 and has practised exclusively in Criminal Law. Lorelei is also a committee member of the Townsville District Law Association, Vice President of the North Queensland Law Association and a casual lecturer at JCU in the subject Indigenous People and the Law. Lorelei is committed to ensuring there is a voice and a place for our current and emerging First Nations legal practitioners in Queensland.
Mr Mark Fenlon
Senior Prosecutor, Queensland Police Service
Mark Fenlon is a Senior Prosecutor for the Queensland Police Service.
Mark was a graduate of JCU and has been in the legal industry for nearly 20 years, and worked as solicitor for more than 17 years.
He has experience in both private practice and as solicitor in the public service.
In 2007 Mark received the QLS President’s Award for Queensland Young Lawyer of the Year. He has received Assistant Commissioner and Executive Directors citations for his work in the Domestic Violence area and for the prosecution of a major drug trafficking syndicate. Mark was President of the Townsville District Law Association from 2018 – 2020, is a member of the QLS’ Wellbeing Working Group and is the QLS’ representative to the Law Council of Australia’s Regional, Rural and Remote Lawyers Committee.
Mark lectures at JCU in Criminal Law and Advocacy and Criminal Sentencing.
Mr Travis Schmidt
Barrister, Norther Circuit Chambers, Legal Officer (Squadron Leader) Royal Australian Air Force
Travis Schmitt has been practising at the Queensland Bar since 2016. Before coming to the Bar he was a partner at a large regional law firm where he acted in a range of property and planning law disciplines for more than a decade.
At the bar, Travis practises in both civil and criminal law. In civil matters, he is retained to provide advice and appear in litigation concerning administrative law, town planning, building and construction, and regulatory law. In criminal matters, he is briefed by defendants and prosecutorial agencies alike, and has a particular interest in work health and safety prosecutions.
Travis is also a legal officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, holding the rank of Squadron Leader, and regularly appears before service tribunals as part of the Australian Defence Force military justice system.
Associate Professor Louise Floyd
James Cook University, Townsville
Dr Louise Floyd is an Associate Professor of Law at JCU and a Barrister to the Supreme Court of Queensland. She was the first Australian to win the MacCormick Fellowship to the Edinburgh Law School; and she has served numerous times as International Visiting Fellow to Cornell University in America's Ivy League. Dr Floyd has written a book on employment law for Cambridge University Press and she has been published in the world's leading law journal The Law Quarterly Review. Dr Floyd has consulted with honorarium to both the Hong Kong Government and the Queensland Government. Dr Floyd started her career as a Judge's Associate. In addition to her research expertise, Dr Floyd won three Excellence in Teaching Awards at the University of Queensland Law School, where she also served as Sub Dean. She has been awarded Life Membership of The JCU Business Students Association.