Your MDAS Board

Mallee District Aboriginal Services is a company limited by guarantee. The business of Mallee District Aboriginal Services Limited is managed by a board of directors.

The principal activity of the company is to promote Aboriginal health, wellbeing, culture and economic prosperity through delivery of health, family and community services to clients in the Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang regions.

Services are targeted to address areas of need created through social disadvantage, drug and alcohol misuse, sickness, disability, family violence, youth suicide, homelessness, teen pregnancy, low levels of childhood wellbeing, unemployment, disengagement with the education system and high levels of involvement with the criminal justice system.

Governance: MDAS is a thriving, multi-functional, contemporary Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO).

MDAS has grown substantially since its inception as Mildura Aboriginal Corporation in 1990, and now delivers a comprehensive range of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the Mallee region. MDAS continually strives to meet the needs of our community members.

This requires, amongst other things, strong governance arrangements, quality assurance processes, financial practices, risk management strategies, high performing staff and leadership, and open communication with our communities and stakeholders. Strong governance arrangements, accountability and transparency remain our key commitments.

Board Members

Jenene Murray Jenene Murray
Chair - Mildura

I am a proud Wiradjuri woman from central NSW and have lived and worked in the Mildura community for over 26 years. I have an extensive working knowledge of the education sector and a comprehensive understanding of the issues impacting our community. I have a genuine passion in supporting change within health, education, housing, and unemployment, and have represented my community at many forums. I really enjoy fishing and spending time by the river.

Rita Simmons Rita Simmons
Deputy Chair - Mildura

Rita Simmons is a Gadigal woman, born on Gadigal Country in the 1960s. As child, Rita was raised both in Fiji & Sydney and she is part of the Stolen Generation. Ten years ago, Rita sought out her family and upon finding them, she returned to Gadigal Country for the first time. Rita has connections with the Barkindji & Ngiyampaa communities. Rita is passionate about community and is dedicated to ensuring their health and wellbeing needs are met through; integrity, respect, understanding and compassion. Rita has been actively involved in Aboriginal community work for over thirty years and has also volunteered with various church groups and charities. A highlight for Rita is her work with the AFL Indigenous Academy, mentoring youth, encouraging them to keep in school and giving them opportunities whilst instilling values, and life lessons.

Jemmes Handy Jemmes Handy

Jemmes Handy is well known for her work in health and justice services in the Mildura region over the past 30 years, where she has helped to develop culturally appropriate policing and health services. Jemmes has worked in the education sector on both sides of the river and has also been a volunteer on the Aboriginal Community Justice Panel. She has received numerous high-profile awards for her contribution to Indigenous communities in Victoria, including a Public Service Medal.

Thelma Chilly Thelma Chilly

Thelma Chilly is a proud Aboriginal woman who has ties to the Wiradjuri, Muthi Muthi, Wemba Wemba, Wadi Wadi and Yorta Yorta nations. Born in Robinvale, Thelma has worked with Aboriginal communities in the Mallee for more than 33 years and she is a strong advocate for our Koori Community. Thelma was placed on the 2010 Women’s Honour Roll and was a finalist in the Dreamtime Awards in 2018. Thelma has a strong knowledge and background in family violence prevention and worked for State Government for 18 years. Thelma holds qualifications in Community Development and Planning from Swinburne University and is currently responsible for the Local Aboriginal Networks in the Mallee. Thelma remains passionate about her communities.

Marcus Horwood Marcus Horwood
Treasurer - Mildura

Marcus Horwood is a proud Bangarang man whose family ties trace back to Wahgunyah Victoria. Marcus has lived in and out of Mildura for a large part of his life, returning permanently in 2018. Marcus works as the Senior Manager – Aboriginal Workforce for the Department of Justice and Community Safety. He is also a Justice of the Peace and in 2022 was awarded the Public Service Medal.

Mark Morgan Mark Morgan

Mark has been heavily invested in achieving advocacy for the community and Indigenous students, including being a part of Statewide participation in improving Aboriginal Education. Mark has held senior positions in the Magistrates Court of Victoria and the Children’s Koori Court Office. Mark also worked as Practice manager of Murray Valley Aboriginal Cooperative and lastly, worked in several organisations where he ensured that compliance with funding bodies were sufficiently met.

Steven Portelli Steven Portelli

Steve Portelli is a proud Aboriginal man of the Wotjobaluk tribe from the Wimmera. With over 22 years of experience working in the field of health and community services, Steve is a passionate, dedicated and ethical person who will always have the best interests of his communities at heart. Over his career, he has worked within mainstream organisations such as The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Wimmera Health Care Group, Mildura Base Hospital (Ramsay Healthcare), Marie Stopes International, NSW Health and Sunraysia Institute of TAFE. He has also worked within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations. Steve has a Diploma in Indigenous Primary Health Care, post-graduate qualifications in Indigenous Health Promotion, and a Graduate Certificate in Health (Diabetes Management & Education). He has represented his community on many committees and Directorships at a local level and across Australia.

Chief Executive Officer