Chief Executive Officer (CEO):
Ann Oakley (nee Hawke)
Founder of Kinship Connections in 2012. She is a descendant of the Yawuru people from Broome on her grandfather’s side (Hawke family) and Gooniyandi people from the East Kimberly on her grandmother’s side (Cox family). Ann is the third generation in her family to have been affected by government removal policies.
Immediately before starting Kinship Connections, Ann worked in the Department for Child Protection for some 6 years as a Senior Field Officer within Fostering Services. She worked first as a trainer on best practice fostering but soon moved into recruitment and assessment of potential Aboriginal foster parents.
Her achievements include:
- Delivering the “Supportive Learning” training Package to relative carers and Cultural Awareness in Fostering across the sector for non-Aboriginal carers.
- Reversing the trend of potential Aboriginal carers dropping out during the assessment phase, and helping them become and remain long-term registered carers with the Department. Her practical interventions enabled the Department to substantially increase its numbers of Aboriginal carers.
- Assisting Department Case Workers and non-Aboriginal carers across the metropolitan districts to access and establish durable kinship connections for children in their care, and observing how much better the long-term outcomes were for these children. It was this particular aspect of her work that gave Ann the idea to establish Kinship Connections WA, a unique approach to supporting Aboriginal families caught up in intergenerational contact with the Department for Child Protection and Family Support.
Ann’s knowledge and expertise continues to be sought by the Department and other agencies on a regular basis. She sits on the Foster Care panel for CPFS and, and is a key resource on Aboriginal and fostering issues across the NGO sector in WA. Her detailed knowledge of kinship relationships across the Aboriginal community is frequently called on by CPFS (previously known as DCP), and she takes a growing number of after-hours calls on this issue.
Delys is a Noor woman from the Gnaala Karla Booja regions of Pinjarra and Ravenswood. She grew up as a “State Ward” between the ages of two until she was twenty-one years of age. Delys grew up with her paternal family with many extended families around her.
Delys has worked in various agencies such as Woman’s Refuges, Shelters and the Aboriginal Medical Service now known as Derbarl Yerrigan Health Services as a Program Manager in the Aged Care unit where she worked with Aboriginal Elders in the community. Delys’ fostering career started in the 70s when she started caring for her extended families and because of her regular interactions with the Department at the time Delys’ home was seen as a safe place for many Aboriginal children in the community.
As a proud Noongar mother, grandmother and carer, Delys recognises the important of connecting children in care with their culture and identity for a better future. Delys strongly believes that nothing is better than being connected to your own family.
Leeanne is a Pakeha woman from the South Island of New Zealand. She has a strong connection to the Maori people from her country and in her family. Leeanne is a Mother of a teenage daughter but has fostered many children through DCPFS over the last 10 years.
Leeanne has a 20 year background in a diverse range of community services positions from working as an Employment Consultant with ex-offenders and people with mental health conditions to working as a Peer Support Worker for the Department of Health. Leeanne has also run housing programs for St Patricks for Youth and Families in crisis and has been in the Defence Force for 10 years as an Electrician.
Leeanne has wanted to develop her skills and understanding of the Aboriginal culture and so came to Kinship Connections through volunteering and is now working as the Volunteer Coordinator.
Michelle graduated from Curtin University in 2016, with a degree in anthropology and sociology. She completed part of her undergraduate studies in Upstate New York, where she undertook a research based internship with a local community.
Michelle is a wadjela with strong connections to her family and the ocean. She has spent over three years traveling the world, learning about other cultures and lands, but also connecting with her European roots.
Upon her return home to Western-Australia, Michelle spent time On Country in Albany and Nowanup, learning from elders about Noongar culture and history. Michelle’s involvement with the Noongar community during this time, motivated her to follow her passion and enter the field of Aboriginal affairs.
With Michelle’s excitement about taking on the role of Community Researcher, she said, “I’m grateful for the opportunity to work alongside Ann and to learn through listening to stories from the community. I can relate to the work we are doing at Kinship Connections, as I believe having family connections, is important in shaping identities”.
Nathan is a strong Aboriginal man who stems from the Noongar and Kimberley Regions. Hawke family on his Mother’s side (Ann Hawke) and Woodnelling on his Father’s side (Ward Family). Nathan grew up within a strong fostering family where he saw many Aboriginal children grow to adulthood. Nathan continues to be a part of the fostering family he came from and has taken this role seriously as a role model while still living and participating with growing up the next generation of children to be proud and strong Aboriginal men.
Growing up within a fostering family Nathan understands the importance of children being connected to their birth families and of the trauma this can bring the young person if they are disconnected from their own mob.
Nathan started his career in the concreting industry as a finisher in a Leading hand position running small teams in the Perth metro area. He then went on to become a licenced Heavy Machinery Operator where he worked in a FIFO position in Cape Lambert with NRW. Nathan went on to work for Rio Tinto working and living in the Pilbara region. During this position Nathan worked on the wharfs loading iron ore onto Iron Ore Carriers.
Nathan’s current role as a Youth Worker for Kinship Connections will enable him to assist in bringing about change for the Aboriginal youth in the community. Nathan is the coordinator of the Moorditj Koorlongka (Strong Youth) program.