Mr Simon Bright
Regional Manager / Legal Practitioner
Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS)
TOPIC: A Career in Criminal Law – Working in Private Practice, Government & Not-for-Profit Organisations
Simon is the Regional Manager of the Cairns office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service. Prior to working with ATSILS, Simon has 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.
Dr Lea Merone
Senior Medical Administration Registrar, Public Health Physician and Health Economist at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service
TOPIC: The New Voluntary Assisted Dying Legislation
Dr Lea Merone is a medical Dr from the UK. After emigrating to Cairns in 2016 she completed her master of public health and tropical medicine and obtained her fellowship of the Australian Faculty of Public Health Medicine. In 2022 she completed her PhD exploring Androcentricity in medicine. She is currently working with Cairns Hospital as the clinical lead for Voluntary Assisted Dying and the Senior Medical Administration Registrar.
Ms Trish Price
Senior Principal Solicitor at Legal Aid Queensland
Born in Tasmania, Trish was admitted to practice in 1992 in Victoria and travelled to Cairns in 1995 to take up the Principal Lawyer position with the North Queensland Land Council Aboriginal Corporation on a two year contract. Trish moved to Legal Aid Queensland in 1997 in the position of Senior Solicitor and has enjoyed a successful career there for over a quarter of a century. She is currently the Acting Senior Principal Lawyer and was recently the recipient of the prestigious Agnes McWhinney Award at the Queensland Law Society Excellence in Law Awards earlier this month.
Professor Gary Meyers
Professor of Law; and Fellow, The Cairns Institute
Gary is a Professor of Law at JCU here in Cairns. He is also an Emeritus Professor at Murdoch University. From 1994-97, he was the inaugural director of the National Native Title Tribunal Legal Research Unit. He teaches environmental law, international law, and human rights law. His main research interests are in comparative indigenous land rights law and environmental and natural resources law.
Ms Michelle Friday-Mooka
Manager of Community Relations, Cape York Land Council
TOPIC: The Before & After Native Title Claim Process
Michelle is an Eastern Yalanji, Olkola, Kabi Kabi, Wakka Wakka, and Bwgcolman woman with family connections across the Cape.
She is the Chairperson of the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC and previously worked for the organisation for three years as executive assistant. She is also the Manager of community and stakeholder engagement for the Cape York Land Council’s Community Relations Unit.
Michelle is a strong advocate for Traditional Owners’ voices and quotes Eddie Koiki Mabo – “it’s not about the land it’s about the people.”
Mr Joel Murgha
Legal Officer, Cape York Land Council & Youth Advisory Committee Representative for the Voice to Parliament
TOPIC: The Voice to Parliament
Joel is an Gunggandji, Wallaburra Yidinji, Eastern Kuku Yalanji and Bundjalung man, with local connections to Gimuy (Cairns) Yarrabah, north to Black Mountain and south to Tweed on the Northern NSW coast.
Joel graduated from QUT with a Bachelor of Laws with honours in 2021. Joel has worked as an associate to the now retired Court of Appeal Justice, the Honourable Anthe Philippides. He has also practiced law in a range of areas including generalists practice and Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Law. Currently, Joel is also a ULURU Youth Dialogue Ambassador and a Lawyer for the PBC Unit at the Cape York Land Council.
Dr Sana Nakata
Principal Research Fellow at the Indigenous Education and Research Centre
TOPIC: The Voice to Parliament, Discrimination, Democratic Representation, Legislation
Dr Sana Nakata is a Torres Strait Islander, Associate Professor and Principal Research Fellow at the Indigenous Education and Research Centre, James Cook University following a decade in academic and leadership roles at The University of Melbourne. She is trained in the law and political theory of the Western tradition, and her research focuses upon the politics of childhood, Indigenous policy and governance. She has held multiple Australian Research Council grants, written and edited books including Childhood Citizenship, Governance and Policy: the politics of becoming adult (Routledge, 2015) and published in leading international and Australian journals, including Politics, Contemporary Political Theory, Public Law Review and Australian Journal of Political Science.
Ms Stephanie Attard
AEO & State Manager at the Australian Electoral Commission
TOPIC: Role of the AEC, Electoral Integrity & Political Participation (Voting)
Ms Stephanie Attard is the State Manager and Australian Electoral Officer for Queensland Since February 2021.
Ms Filitsa Kounias
Law Lecturer at James Cook University
Filitsa completed her studies at James Cook University in 2007. Her career has lead her from Commonwealth DPP to Drug Court Coordinator and Childrens Court Prosecutor for the QPS. She has worked as a criminal lawyer for Legal Aid and in private practice. Her most recent project aside has seen her redevelop and enhance the Restorative Justice Practice with Youth Justice in Townsville.
Ms Tina Hoyer
Senior Lawyer at the Australian Tax Office
Dr Bill Mitchell
Principal Solicitor at Townsville Community Law
TOPIC: Human Rights of Older Persons
Bill Mitchell OAM Hon LLD was JCU’s first admitted solicitor in 1992. He is Principal Lawyer at Townsville Community Law. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by JCU and holds an appointment as Adjunct Associate Professor of Law with JCU’s College of Law, Business and Governance. Bill received the Australian Human Rights Commission Law Award in 2008. He was awarded the Law Council of Australia’s President’s Medal in 2019. Bill was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2020. He has represented Community Legal Centres Australia in various United Nations human rights forums since 2013.
Ms Lorelei Billing
Legal Practitioner at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS)
TOPIC: The Perspective of a Criminal Lawyer on Youth Justice
Lorelei Billing is Quandamooka, Bundjalung and South Sea Islander woman, born and raised in Townsville, where she is a Criminal Solicitor at the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Legal Service and previously 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 practiced exclusively in Criminal Law. Lorelei is also 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.