Gallery: national reference group appointed


p2480 Philip Watkins 250Members of the National Reference Group for the proposed National Aboriginal Art Gallery have been announced.
Left: Philip Watkins, CEO Desart, the co-Chair of Initial Scoping Steering Committee is going the reference group. Photo from our archive.
The group will provide advice on delivery of the project, advocate nationally and help progress the recommendations outlined in the expert steering committee report on the implementation and operation of the Gallery.
The expressions of interest process returned a significant number of individuals with expertise in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Aboriginal tourism development, corporate fund-raising and philanthropy.
The group includes Arrernte traditional owner Benedict Kngwarraye Stevens, (Apmereke artweye for Mparntwe, Alice Springs); co-chair of the Initial Scoping Steering Committee, Desart CEO, Phillip Watkins; the immediate past director of the National Gallery of Australia, Gerard Vaughan, AM, and Chairperson of the Aboriginal Tourism Advisory Council, Helen Martin.
Based on a two-year term, the 15 members are:
•Dr Gerard Vaughan, AM – past Director, National Gallery of Australia
•Ms Margo Neale, Senior Indigenous Curator and Indigenous Advisor to the Director, National Museum of Australia
•Ms Rhoda Roberts, AO – Head of First Nations Programming, Sydney Opera House
•Ms Helen Martin – Chair of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Tourism Advisory Council, originally from Irlpme, an environ of Alice Springs
•Mr Frank Howarth – past National President of Museums Galleries Australia and former director of the Australian Museum
•Mr John Mawurndjul, AM – Kuninjku bark painter and sculptor and a leading Aboriginal artist from Maningrida Arts and Culture Centre
•Mr Malcolm Jagmarra Maloney – Warlpiri elder and Aboriginal artist from Central Australia
•Ms Freja Carmichael – Quandamooka woman, descendant of the Ngugi people belonging to Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) and Moorgumpin (Moreton Island) and is based in Brisbane, QLD; and currently visiting curator at the Institute of Modern Art, collaborating on The Commute: First Nations Sovereignties and Dialogues Across the Great Ocean
•A representative from the National Gallery of Australia
•A representative from the Torres Strait Regional Authority.
p2495 Prisons Benedict & Russell 430Local (Alice Springs):
•Mr Benedict Kngwarraye Stevens – Apmereke artweye (Traditional owner) for Mparntwe (with Russell Goldflam, photo from our archives.)
•Mr Phillip Watkins – CEO Desart, the co-Chair of Initial Scoping Steering Committee
•Mr Robert Campbell – CEO, Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation
•Mr Luke Scholes – Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, MAGNT
•Ms Elliat Rich – Local Alice Springs based designer.
Meanwhile, other critical project planning activity is underway including recruitment for a Project Implementation team (which will work with and take guidance from the National Reference Group) to be located in Alice Springs, and developing an Aboriginal Workforce and Enterprise Development Plan to achieve majority Aboriginal management and workforce by the time the Gallery opens in 2022.
Source: NT Government media release.
UPDATE, 1.26pm,  4 September 2018.
Terms of reference for the group are outlined on the government’s website. There is a strong emphasis on confidentiality. Members of the group will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement, to not disclose the content of the group’s discussions or recommendations to the government.
Excerpt of the terms below:-

3. Role
The Reference Group will provide advice and recommendations through the Department of Tourism and Culture (DTC) to the Minister for Tourism and Culture. This may relate to:
• development of the purpose and functions of the Gallery;
• establishment and operation of the Gallery;
• public programming, visitor experience and opening event;
• planning and development of the building design;
• legislation to establish the Gallery, functions, governance arrangements, accountability and reporting requirements;
• key policy development and implementation, such as curatorial policy and collection acquisition and management, workforce planning and enterprise development;
• advocacy and consultation and engagement with stakeholders, including with key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies and artist organisations, traditional owners and individuals – locally, Territory wide and nationally;
• promotion and marketing of the Gallery to position it as a national and international tourist destination, and linking it with Territory art centres and the broader Arts Trail;
• fostering and building relationships with galleries and cultural institutions with shared focus and purpose nationally and internationally, eg the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory – Telstra NATSIAA, Art Gallery of South Australia – Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa; and
• establishment and fostering of partnerships with the corporate and philanthropic sector.
5. Conflict of Interest
Reference Group members will be required to sign and adhere to a Conflict of Interests/Private Interests Declaration form and be required subsequently to declare any potentially conflicting interest arising at any time.
6. Confidentiality
Reference Group members will be required to sign a Confidentiality form and maintain strict confidentially around all aspects of the project including the Reference Group’s discussions and endeavours and recommendations to Government.
8. Remuneration
Members will be remunerated and all costs associated with travel will be covered.
Remuneration will be in line with the Assembly Members and Statutory Officers (remuneration and Other Entitlements) Act approved classification.
9. Reporting
Advice and recommendations from the Reference Group shall be delivered through the DTC to the Minister for Tourism and Culture within the period of the Group’s term.
10. Meetings
The Reference Group will meet not less than three times a year and the first meeting will be held in Alice Springs. Subsequent meetings may be held via video/teleconference at the discretion of the Chair.
11. Secretariat
The Department of Tourism and Culture will provide Secretariat support to the Reference Group.



  1. This should have been done longtime ago as a first step. The Relativity of Dream Time? Dream Time vs “real” time.

  2. Remuneration will be in line with the Assembly Members and Statutory Officers (remuneration and Other Entitlements) Act approved classification.
    Could we have an idea of the cost of this new exercise ?
    Basic Salary for Assembly Member
    10. The Tribunal has determined that the basic salary for Assembly Members should be
    increased by 2% to $162 696 effective from 1 January 2019. This increase was determined
    after taking into account general movements in salary and wages, both in Australia and the
    Northern Territory, and the recent increase for Federal Parliamentarians of 2% effective from
    1 July 2018.
    Traveling Allowance
    11. The Tribunal addressed the issue of the various Traveling Allowances paid to Members who
    live outside of Darwin when they are required to attend Assembly business and other approved business in Darwin …
    Therefore the Tribunal has introduced a single rate for Members when they are required to travel to Darwin for Assembly or related business. This rate has been set at $400 per day, irrespective of the accommodation chosen by Members.

  3. Evelyn, you mention the remuneration of a member of the Legislative Assembly.
    The appointed people are not MLAs, nor will they be paid that amount.
    They would be appointed as a member of a statutory body and paid in line with that role under division 2 of the Act. Let’s not jump to conclusions here.
    Although it will be a substantial payment, it is likely to be far less than what an MLA receives.

  4. @ Local1. It’s called a thematic funding window or bucket of money in the vernacular.
    In Mexico, photographic exhibitions are combined with music. How revolutionary! Should be exported to the colonies.

  5. Agree Russell, much like the recent Royal Commission where a predetermined outcome was presided over by a person who knew the ending before it began, who was unable to find the evidence until it was presented to the public after the enquiry had concluded.
    A well paid job if you can get it. It seems that we, the hoi polloi, pay quite well when we have no choice in the funding.


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