Giinagay & welcome

Our board and our people

Our board members represent ten Local Aboriginal Land Councils on the Mid North Coast of NSW. They include Karuah, Forster, Purfleet Taree, Bunyah (Wauchope), Birpai (Port Macquarie), Kempsey, Thungutti (Bellbrook), Unkya (Macksville), Bowraville and Coffs Harbour.

The communities in our region cover the four language areas of the Worimi, Biripi, Dunghutti and Gumbaynggirr.

Members meet regularly and work hard to ensure effective community engagement and representation across the region.

Words from our team:

"Understanding, preserving and sharing the rich culture of the Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti, Biripi and Worimi nations is the one of the most important and rewarding things we endeavour to achieve with the projects here at SWFW.  It is both an honour and a privilege to be part of this organisation and something I am truly passionate about"

Rick Gonsalves, General Manager

"I feel privileged to be working with an Aboriginal organisation that is creating meaningful opportunities for Aboriginal people. I’m also grateful for the constant opportunities to learn and connect with this ancient and important culture. I often have the privilege of spending time with Elders and community who share sacred stories and include me as part of their culture and family."

Jane Tavener, Social Enterprise Coordinator

"I love meeting all the community members and working on the great projects that SWFW runs. The community really engages with us in preserving and passing on culture. So many people benefit from our projects it is a joy to be part of such an amazing team."

Michelle Flanders, Aboriginal Project Officer

Meet the Saltwater Freshwater Team

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Rick Gonsalves

General Manager

Rick is general manager of Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance Aboriginal Corporation.

Born and raised in California, Rick came to Australia in 2004 and became an Australian citizen in 2009. He has resided in the Mid North Coast since 2015 and feels quite privileged to live on Gumbaynggirr country. He enjoys continually learning and engaging in cultural pursuits within local Aboriginal communities.

Rick studied Business at San Diego State University, holds a strong background in business development and operations, and has extensive experience in the hospitality, healthcare and facilities services sectors.

In addition to the many duties involved in leading SWFW’s work on the Mid North Coast, Rick’s other passion involves caring for the land he considers himself lucky to inhabit. As steward of that land, he feels a strong obligation to live in respectful relationship with it. He feels strongly that it is important to honour the past by preserving for the future. Rick possesses a strong commitment to respecting and protecting through hands-on efforts to nurture and enhance all elements of his surrounding environment.

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Jane Tavener

Social Enterprise Coordinator

Jane is our team’s day-to-day driving force, deploying her extensive background in project management and administration with not-for-profits and NGOs to drive SWFW’s programs, community events, cultural work and fundraising drives.

A long-term member of the team, Jane’s other chief focus is with the National Aboriginal Design Agency – SWFW’s commercial arm – for whom she has netted major collaborations with government and corporate clients who wish to embrace the stunning work of contemporary Aboriginal artists. Jane is passionate about working with a values-based, meaningful organisation that supports Aboriginal culture and reconciliation.

Jane is a prominent figure in the Coffs Coast region and continuously sees first-hand the transformative and healing power of culture within her various avenues of community work, for which she was awarded Coffs Harbour’s International Women’s Day, Woman of the Year in 2017. A force to be reckoned with when there is a to-do list at hand, Jane manages to also be the epitome of grace under pressure.

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Michelle Flanders

Aboriginal Project Officer

Michelle is a Gamilaroi/Gomeroi woman born and raised in Sydney. She moved to the Mid North Coast of NSW in 1987 and started a journey of study leading her to a Degree in Applied Science – Coastal Management with Honours and a Master’s Degree in Aboriginal Education. Michelle worked with SCU for 10 years, Galambila AMS and the Coffs Harbour Local Aboriginal Land Council for many years.

Michelle’s role at Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance has her working on Aboriginal cultural projects and events in the Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti, Biripi and Worimi nations.

Michelle loves spending time at home on her property, playing with her puppies, doing artwork, and having friends over for homemade pizza. Michelle is adventurous and a risk taker. Having jumped out of a plane at 50 and landing on her feet has set the pace for her next 50 years.

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Brentyn Lugnan

Aboriginal Project Officer

Gumbaynggirr man, Brentyn Lugnan is an experienced, exhibited, award winning artist. Having attended the Sydney College of Fine Arts, TAFE and the EORA Centre. He has worked as a Graphic Designer for Television with SBS, an Animator and Production Co-ordinator on 'The Dreaming Series' at Aboriginal Nations for the ABC and was co-founder and Designer of Bruz Design, clothing and graphics.

A carpet range was designed through a collaboration with Ontera Milliken and the National Aboriginal Design agency which is now seeing sales around the country including the new Coffs Harbour Stadium.

Brentyn has facilitated and mentored many different Arts projects with the young, and the young at heart. His artworks are also hung in private collections both nationally and internationally. He now joins the Saltwater Freshwater team bring his creative thinking and project experience to our cultural projects team.

Want to have a yarn with us? Just call 02 6658 1315