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:

"The opportunity to link future Aboriginal community leaders with respected Elders and knowledge holders is priceless for future generations. SWFW projects are an excellent informal way to achieve this, while instilling pride and cultural identity in our youth. That’s what makes working for SWFW and our Aboriginal communities extremely humbling and rewarding."

Chris Spencer, 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

"Receiving the comments back from the youth who have been part of our projects and who have made life changes after speaking to Elders and embracing their culture, just makes working with SWFW so rewarding."

Jade Dickson, Administration Officer

Meet the Saltwater Freshwater Team

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Chris Spencer

General Manager

Chris is a proud Gumbaynggirr man and the general manager of Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance Aboriginal Corporation.

Born and raised in Garlambirla (Coffs Harbour) within the Gumbaynggirr Nation of NSW, he continues his cultural development with local Elders and cultural pursuits within local Aboriginal communities.

Chris, who studied Business at Newcastle University, holds a strong background in NSW Aboriginal Land Rights and Cultural Heritage.

In 2014 he was awarded the Young Business Person of the Year by the NSW Business Chamber and won the title of Coffs Harbour City Council’s NAIDOC Person of the year for the City of Coffs Harbour in 2015.

In addition to the many duties involved in leading SWFW’s work on the Mid North Coast, Chris is a regular speaker at Aboriginal summits, events and in the media. He’s also a consistent speaker at the SWFW office! If you’ve been lucky enough to have a yarn with Chris, you’ll know he’s a goldmine of information about the region’s culture, lores, natural treasures and traditions, which he gladly shares with compassion, sensitivity and humour.

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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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Jade Dickson

Administration Officer

Jade is a Yamatji woman originally from Western Australia, who provides essential administrative support to both Saltwater Freshwater and National Aboriginal Design Agency.

Jade completed a Diploma of Aboriginal Studies in 2015 at North Coast TAFE, which greatly deepened her knowledge and passion for her culture. This inspires Jade to support and work with other Aboriginal people to express and live their traditions.

As the first point of contact at SWFW’s office, Jade experiences first-hand the impact that the Saltwater Freshwater programs have on the local communities in the Saltwater Freshwater region.

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