The Paul Ramsay Foundation (PRF) is pleased to announce the appointment of Michelle Steele as its new Chief First Nations Officer.

Mrs Steele, a Kamilaroi/Gomeroi Yinarr from Moree, NSW, brings a wealth of career experience through over 18 years working in the public sector, leading in key policy areas delivering for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in health and aged care.

Prior to joining, Mrs Steele was the Assistant Secretary of the First Nations Aged Care Branch at the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, leading the policies, programs and sector collaborations focused on improving the care experience of older First Nations peoples.

During the pandemic, she led the COVID-19 Indigenous and Remote Policy and Implementation Branch, supporting the pandemic response and vaccine implementation program through a strong partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector –made possible through genuine and respectful partnerships forged through the advisory group.

Mrs Steele has represented Australia at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She is also an inaugural Fellow of the Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity program, an Indigenous-led lifelong collaborative fellowship program and platform for systemic change.

PRF CEO Professor Kristy Muir said the Foundation was thrilled to bring Mrs Steele’s knowledge and experience to its work and relationships.

“We are delighted to welcome Michelle into this crucial new role, working with a motivated team and across sectors and communities to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to thrive,” Professor Muir said.

“Michelle’s depth of knowledge in understanding the fundamental needs of First Nations communities, and her genuine passion for achieving change, will provide invaluable support in shaping PRF’s engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities across all aspects of our work.”

Mrs Steele said she looked forward to starting her new role and supporting PRF to achieve more in its partnerships across Australia.

“I am a proud Aboriginal woman and through my work I have seen the lived experiences and systemic challenges that shape the inequity challenging our First Nations people,” Mrs Steele said.

“In order to talk about First Nations communities, we need to talk about equity – equity in housing, education, access to health services, land, and the impacts of colonisation. We need to understand, offer genuine collaboration, empower local decision making and highlight the importance of embedding culture into the systems we promote.

“Through this role at PRF, I am proud to have the opportunity to represent my community and help guide its work with partners to bring real and self-determined solutions for our First Nations people.”

Michelle begins at PRF on April 11, 2023.

Media Contact: Pia Akerman 0412 346 746