About our Board_
Babana Aboriginal Men's Group is an incorporated organisation register with ASIC and the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission. Mark Spinks is Chair of Babana, Jeremy Heathcote, Deputy Chair, Ossie Ryan, Treasurer, Pastor Raymond Minniecon, Secretary, "Robbo" and Dr Mick Asher serve as patrons and advisers.
Mark Spinks, Chairman_
Mark Spinks will be one of the most inspiring people you will meet not because of what he has achieved but by the journey he has taken from the back of Bourke to the inner City of Sydney. That’s because Mark is one of the few people that has walked in two distinctly different worlds. The first world is that of his Aboriginal heritage and the story of his life being raised by his Aboriginal Grandmother in a tin shed with nothing more than sacks for doors. With little than just love that only family can bring, Mark grew up at a time, and in a world, where if you were Aboriginal life was tough, you were not recognised and you faced discrimination at every point. In fact, it was around this time he lost the sight in one of his eyes as a result of school yard bullying. But none of this would stop him. Years later he would reflect that “My nan did it tough but she worked hard to put food in our bellies and clothes on our backs. From her I learnt the value of hard work even though everything might be against you.”
From Bourke Mark would eventually find himself in the Cities before finally settling in Redfern, Sydney. Redfern was the centre of Aboriginal affairs for a long time and was where the fight for rights movement was born. First working in hostels and then onto employment services with the Australian Government, Marks first priority was to work hard and in the interests of his people. After seeing firsthand the affliction of drugs and alcohol, the challenge of family violence and unemployment Mark embarked on a new journey and Babana Aboriginal was born.
Babana began as a simple concept of men getting into a yarning circle and sharing about what was going on their lives. The challenges that confronted them and the barriers they faced. It was here that Mark was able to step into the second world of non-Aboriginal policy makers. By taking the real life, on the ground lived experience of Aboriginal people in community, Babana was able to develop up community awareness days around suicide prevention, regular Mens group meetings, clothing programs, mentoring and more. What started out with a handful of people engaged in turn tens of thousands and growing both directly, people to people, and over social media. In 2018 Babana reached more than 250,000 people. The annual ANZAC Day Coloured Diggers march attracts community, business and political leaders and more – all with the focus of creating understanding between two cultures and two worlds.
Mark is also Chairman of Tribal Warrior Association, Babana Aboriginal and Babana Employment and formerly Chair of the Aboriginal Housing Corporation. Nominated for Australian of the Year several times Mark is on a mission – a mission to empower his people to be all they can be.
Jeremy Heathcote, Deputy Chairman_
Jeremy has been the Deputy Chair of Babana Aboriginal Men's Group for a number of years and works primarily in the University sector and Academia. He currently works as Manager of Indigenous Employment and Cultural Diversity within the Equity and Diversity Strategy for the University of Sydney. The role has a strong focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment, retention and career development and works strategically and operationally with key stakeholders to drive the employment related focus of the Wingara Mura Strategy to promote Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander participation,
[ Suicide prevention / Elders and aged care/ jobs and employment / Health and Well being ]