Our Board

Johnny Mitchell



Njernda Aboriginal Corporation

John Mitchell, is a proud Wemba Wemba man and the Deputy CEO of Njernda, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation (ACCO) in Echuca, Victoria.

John’s first appointment in Aboriginal Health was at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS) in Fitzroy and attained a formal qualification as  Practice Manager with the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO).

John has 27 years of experience working in ACCHOs and is a nominated Victorian delegate on the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Board.

His portfolios includes, Deputy Chair of the Regional Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee (Loddon Mallee) and Chair of the Local Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee; the Loddon Mallee Aboriginal Reference Group, Health Network Partnership (Campaspe Shire), Family Violence Steering Group (Campaspe Shire), a representative of the Victorian Aboriginal Children and Young People’s Alliance (VACYP), Aboriginal Children’s Forum and Aboriginal Justice Forum. 


Karen Heap

Vice Chairperson


Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative

Karen Heap, a Yorta Yorta woman, has been the CEO of Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative for 11 years and brings with her a vast amount of knowledge and skillsets procured from extensive experience within the Aboriginal Service Sector.


Rod Jackson

Board Member


Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative Ltd

A Palawa man and delegate of Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative in Geelong, Rod brings a wealth of experience in Aboriginal and Government not-for-profit businesses and a passion to continue the great work and strategies fostered by VACCHO as a peak body of success.


John Gorton

Board Member


Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Cooperative

A Wotjobaluk man and delegate of Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Cooperative in Horsham, John  brings to the VACCHO Board, a fresh face with different views and over 8 years’ experience on an ACCHO Board.


Hilary Saunders

Board Member


Dhauwurd Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service 

Hilary is a Gunditjmara woman, born in Eastern Victoria but her traditional ties are in South Western Victoria including Portland and Framlingham. Hilary was raised in Sydney and then moved to Canberra where her father Reg Saunders took up a position as one of the first Aboriginal Liaison Officers for DAA.

As a young woman Hilary was involved in the early stages of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra and then moved to Melbourne where her passion for working with and for her people began. Hilary has been working in Aboriginal Affairs for over 40 years including DAA and ATSIC, and today she is the Chair of Dhauwurd Wurrung Elderly and Community Health Service in Portland.

Hilary has been Admitted to a Degree of Bachelor of Applied Sciences, Aboriginal Community Management and Development 1995.

Hilary has also Co-Chaired the Koolin Balit Aboriginal Health Committee for the South Western Region. Hilary was appointed to the Koori Court as a Respected Person in 2014 retiring in 2015 due to ill health. 

Hilary became a member of the VACCHO Board in 2014 and has developed a passion for the progression toward better health outcomes for her people. Closing the Gap.


Daphne Yarram

Board Member


Ramahyuck and District Aboriginal Corporation

Daphne Yarram, a Noongar woman and Chairperson of Ramahyuck District Aboriginal Corporation has 25 years’ experience working in the Victorian Aboriginal Community in various management and executive positions. Daphne joined the Board in 2012. Daphne has significant governance expertise and is an outgoing Board member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

VACCHO welcome the opportunity to continue to benefit from Daphne’s deep understanding of Aboriginal health and more broadly the issues facing our people.


Suzie Squires

Board Member


Lake Tyers Health and Children’s Service

Suzie Squires is a Yuin Woman and the CEO of Lake Tyers Health & Children’s Service. Suzie commenced her journey on the VACCHO Board as an Observant and in 2014 was elected as a Board Member. Suzie has been working in Aboriginal Health for 8 years and is currently the Chairperson of the East Gippsland Aboriginal Consortium Djillay Ngalu.