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2012 Conference speaker biographies

Dr Wendy Brown

Wendy has a PhD in canine nutrition and a long career with animals - from animal technician to zookeeper, track rider, and veterinary nurse. She leads a successful canine research program at UNE and manages the canine research facility where she has been conducting non-invasive dog research since 1997 by ‘borrowing’ privately-owned dogs. After many years as a research fellow, Wendy transited to a lecturer’s position and her current teaching portfolio includes Wild Dog Ecology, Working Canines, and Animals in Society.

Dr Peter Fleming

Peter is Research Leader with the Vertebrate Pest Research Unit of NSW DPI, which he has worked with since 1983. He is currently involved in programs to improve management of feral goats, and dingoes and other wild dogs in Australian ecosystems. Like his species of interest, Peter is a generalist, having investigated the impacts of rabbits, pest birds and flying foxes, and improvements to the control of feral pigs and red foxes. Peter undertook his PhD on the ethology of feral goats for disease transmission modelling, but is mostly recognised for his work on introduced canids and aerial survey methods. He is current President of the Australasian Wildlife Management Society.

Lorina Barker

Lorina is a descendant of the Wangkumara and Muruwari people of western New South Wales, Australia and is currently a PhD candidate researching family/community history at the University of New England in Armidale. She is also team-teacher in Australian History in the School of Humanities at UNE. Lorina specializes in oral history and is particularly interested in the way in which Aboriginal history has been recorded. More importantly, her main interest is in the process of remodelling research methods and techniques so that they readily apply to, are culturally appropriate and accessible to her family and community, who are the core audience for her research.

Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt is Territory born and bred, having grown up in Tennant Creek and now living and working in Darwin. He graduated as a veterinary surgeon in 1995 and worked in veterinary practice for 11 years before joining the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) program in the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. As a NAQS vet, Joe is engaged in a wide variety of tasks, working ‘in the field’ conducting animal health surveys for exotic animal pests and diseases such as foot and mouth disease, screw worm fly and rabies, and promoting awareness and reporting of these diseases in communities across the north. Joe works closely with pastoralists, Indigenous traditional owners of this country and with Indigenous rangers’ land and sea care groups to deliver this program – and it is the working partnerships that he has developed in these areas that he enjoys the most.

David Darcy

To date David is the best-selling author/photographer of Mongrel Country, Outback Mongrels, A little help for our friends, Little Mongrels and Australian Mongrel published both in Australia and the United States. He has worked on numerous photographic assignments both nationally and internationally from private sittings, commercial work, movie sets, to animal welfare campaigns.

His images have appeared in countless newspapers and magazines, on posters, banners and billboards across country. David is a keen supporter of Vets Beyond Borders and the RSPCA, and he is currently an Ambassador for Bayer Animal Health Australia. Together with his beloved dogs, David has featured on national and international television. His limited edition photographs can be seen in his Katoomba Gallery and in private collections around the world.

Dr Jan Allen

Jan has been AMRRIC’s Program Manager since September 2008. Her passion for the bigger picture of dog management has progressed from many years vetting in small animal practices in Tasmania and New South Wales and developed in Samoa. As an AVI volunteer working with the Animal Protection Society Samoa , she gained experience in community development, media, capacity building, liaising with governments and local communities and community and school education. AMRRIC’s Dog People Conference, 2006, was an inspiring introduction to work in Indigenous communities at home in Australia. So Jan left the beautiful north coast of NSW again and returned to the tropics – this time to Darwin - where she worked at the ARK Animal Hospital gaining experience in the Indigenous communities of Australia. Jan’s position as AMRRIC’s Program Manager continues to generate an ever-changing variety of challenges, most recently in the areas of Indigenous training.

Dr John Skuja

John is the Project Manager of AMRRIC’s Animal Management Worker Program in the NT. He grew up outside of Sydney and gained a Bachelor of Veterinary Science at Sydney University. After graduation, John found Suburban Veterinary practice interesting but not entirely satisfying and was attracted to the intensity and consequence of veterinary emergency work. He also became involved with veterinary based community development programs overseas through Vets Beyond Borders and has worked on dog control and rabies programs in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India. His current employment with AMRRIC takes him out in the field on remote communities helping train people to play an increasingly important role in animal management.

Bernie Shakeshaft

Over 25 years, Bernie Shakeshaft has paralleled careers in wild dog management and Youth Work, uniquely combining these two passions to deliver astonishing results in both fields. Time spent in regional and remote communities across Australia has informed his perspective on what it takes to create positive change for those that live there. Delivering programs in rural and aboriginal communities, Bernie is pushing the boundaries of how to work along side young people in this generation and redefining what is possible for them to achieve using a unique process of engagement and connection. This process incorporates dogs and the lessons they can teach us. In 2006 Bernie founded BackTrack Youthworks and has been delivering life changing outcomes for young people ever since. He believes that when you change the life outcomes for these youth you improve the overall quality of community life.Continuing his work with wild dogs and integrating this into his program delivery at BackTrack has provided an opportunity to engage the next generation in age old skills.

Bernie Shakeshaft has extensive experience in wild dog management, includes working for Parks and Wildlife Northern Territory in the Wild Life Research Unit Bernie and putting out the first Satellite tracking collars in the Northern Territory. He has trapped problem wild dogs extensively throughout NSW and written Wild Dog Management Plans for NSW Parks and Wildlife Working on Fraser Island as a contract trapper and trainer for the National Parks and Wildlife teams. Fraser Island provides the latest synergistic project including BackTrack participants in the cultural and environmental aspects of this work. 

Dr Michael Archinal

Dr Michael Archinal has been a veterinarian for over 25 years. He is a Director of Canberra Veterinary Group with 5 practices employing 25 veterinarians and a staff of over 100. Michael also has a national media presence TV – 10 years on Channel Nine, Radio –15 years on the ABC, Print - Dogs Life Magazine. Michael has recently lead 3 separate teams of up to 10 people to work in Utopia. His skills as a football referee come in handy when juggling all of his commitments! He will talk about the specific challenges of setting up and working in remote communities and compel us as to why we should all help.

Dr Ted Donelan

Dr Ted Donelan is a veterinarian based in Melbourne, where he has been running his own private practices for more than 30 years. He is a Fellow of the Australian Veterinary Association, a Senior Academic Associate of the University of Melbourne and Life Member of RSPCA Victoria. Ted has a long history of involvement in animal welfare and animal management policy planning and implementation at local, state and national levels. He has also had decades of interest in indigenous affairs. For the past ten years Ted has provided a veterinary service including a comprehensive dog health program to the remote indigenous community of Maningrida, which with its outstations encompasses and area of some 10,000 square kilometers in Arnhem Land. Following these interests, it was a natural progression to involvement in the developing organisation that became Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities (AMRRIC), where Ted is currently President.

Dr Ann-Margret Withers

Dr Ann-Margret Withers is the Programs Veterinarian for RSPCA NSW, living in Sydney. She has been involved in developing and delivering community companion animal health programs for RSPCA for the past nine years. This includes CAWS, a subsidised desexing scheme for the pets of pensioners and low income earners in rural areas, as well as programs in most remote Aboriginal communities in NSW. She has also been involved in similar programs overseas. She is very interested in the link between animal and human health and welfare.

Dr Sophie Constable

Sophie has been the AMRRIC Education Officer since 2010. She has academic qualifications as a Veterinarian, in Indigenous Education, and in Public Health. She has worked in the field in pet education programs in urban, rural and remote Indigenous communities. She also worked for AVA and RSPCA (NSW) running school pet education programs in towns such as Bourke, Brewarina, Engonnia, Grifffith, Walgett, Collarenebri, and Dubbo. More recently Sophie has been involved in designing, implementing and coordinating community education and training programs in rural and remote Indigenous communities around Australia including Tiwi Islands NT, Ti Tree NT, Bidyadanga WA, and Yarrabah Qld as part of her PhD through the University of Sydney.


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