First Hand Patron
Lois’ childhood was spent on orchards in Shepparton East and Orrvale districts of the Goulburn Valley after her family moved from the Cummeragunja Aboriginal Reserve near Barmah. These experiences have shaped the lives of Lois’ family who have been very active in Aboriginal community development. Lois’ mother Mrs Geraldine Briggs AO was awarded for her work in this field. Lois’ sister the late Hyllus Maris was a visionary and writer who wrote Women of the Sun and established Worawa Aboriginal College in Healesville.
Lois has had a varied career which includes being the first Aboriginal model and the first Aboriginal person to work in television when she was engaged to work on the GTV 9 Breakfast Session in the 60’s. Lois and her sisters formed a singing group the Sapphires which toured Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam war. Lois’ nephew Aboriginal playwright Tony Briggs wrote about these experiences in the smash hit ‘The Sapphires’ which as a stage play completed sell out seasons in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth before going on to be a to take 11 of 12 awards at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award (AACTA).
Lois has extensive experience in Aboriginal Affairs having worked in the Aboriginal community sector, the State and Federal public service sector and in the corporate sector. This experience includes all facets of Aboriginal community development including government, policy development, program implementation, project management, employment and education.
Lois worked for sixteen years at a senior level within Federal and State Government departments managing Aboriginal Affairs. Positions held include being Manager of the Aboriginal Employment Unit of the Public Service Board, an elected representative of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), Director of the Board of the Indigenous Land Corporation, Director of Land Enterprise Australia, Chairperson of Aboriginal Tourism Australia. She was instrumental in the development of the Respecting Our Culture (ROC) accreditation program for the Australian tourism industry. Lois is co-author of the Yorta Yorta Language Heritage Program and author of the Aboriginal Oral History of the Flats.
She is Chair of the Regional Justice Advisory Committee (Eastern) and holds the position of Executive Director of Worawa Aboriginal College.