The Commission recognises we are visitors to the country we travel across and work in and that many of our Local Commissioners are Traditional Owners and Elders of their communities. The Commission acknowledges and pays our respects to the Traditional Owners, Elders and Teachers of these lands; to those of the past whose unseen hands guide the actions and decisions of the Commissioners today; to those of the present working for their communities setting the example for the next generation and to those of the future, the Elders not yet born who will inherit the legacy of our efforts.
Commissioner Edgar KERINDUN OAM (Sara Clan) was born and raised in Aurukun and is a traditional owner of the area. Commissioner Kerindun previously held the position of Engagement Officer at Queensland Health until his election as a Councillor for the Aurukun Shire Council in 2012. He held the position of Councillor for a further eight years during which time he was also appointed as the Deputy Mayor for the last four years until 2020. Aurukun Commissioner Kerindun decided not to stand as a candidate in the 2020 Local Government elections. On 26 January 2015 Aurukun Commissioner Kerindun was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in recognition of his services to the community. He was one of the original Community Police Officers in Aurukun and continues to promote justice and rehabilitation for ex-offenders. Together with his partner, Aurukun Commissioner Doris Poonkamelya, they have in their care three children from their extended family. Commissioner Kerindun has a strong belief that if you show respect to everyone, everyone will have more respect for you.
Commissioner Vera KOOMEETA OAM (Aplach Clan) was born in Aurukun and attended primary school in Aurukun. She continued her studies at PGC and Scots College in Warwick completing Year 10, and then obtained a qualification in community teaching from Technical and Further Education (TAFE) in Cairns. From 2012 to 2020 Aurukun Commissioner Koomeeta held the position of Councillor in the Aurukun Shire Council, deciding not to stand as a candidate in the 2020 Local Government elections.
On 26 January 2015 Aurukun Commissioner Koomeeta was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in recognition of her services to the community. She is a Justice of the Peace (Magistrates Court) and a registered interpreter as well as a member of the Aurukun Community Justice Group. As the representative of her clan group she is involved in several committees and holds positions on a number of boards. Aurukun Commissioner Koomeeta’s experience assists in her ability to make independent and informed decisions as a Local Commissioner. In 2022 Commissioner Koomeeta joined the Paamp Aurukun State School Board, to support school attendance and children’s wellbeing. When not working, she can be found spending time with her three grandchildren, camping and fishing. She also enjoys painting in her spare time.
Commissioner Doris POONKAMELYA OAM (Putch Clan) was born at the Kendall River Outstation and her family moved to Aurukun when she was a child. Commissioner Poonkamelya retired as a senior health worker with Queensland Health in 2009 where she worked for 29 years. On 26 January 2015 Aurukun Commissioner Poonkamelya was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in recognition of her services to the community. From 2016 to 2020 Aurukun Commissioner Poonkamelya was a Councillor for the Aurukun Shire Council, deciding not to stand as a candidate in the 2020 Local Government elections. She is a founding member of the Aurukun Community Justice Group and is also deeply committed to education as the pathway to employment and a promising future for young people. As a carer for Child Safety Services, Commissioner Poonkamelya believes in ensuring a safe environment for children to grow and mature.
Commissioner Dorothy POOTCHEMUNKA (Winchanum / Aplach Clans) was born, raised and educated in Aurukun, and now has 10 children, 17 grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Commissioner Pootchemunka’s interests span the full spectrum of traditional activities including fishing, camping and the customary female craft of basket weaving using Pandanus and Cabbage Palm leaf. Her baskets are on display in national galleries in Australia and overseas. In 2023 the Aurukun State School engaged Commissioner Pootchemunka to deliver cultural classes to the senior cohort, teaching weaving, collecting roots to extract dye and building fires. Aurukun Commissioner Pootchemunka is also a registered Wik interpreter, and her expertise is utilised within the court system and by the Department of Human Services. More recently her services have been used working with the Youth Justice team as an interpreter for local Aurukun youth. Commissioner Pootchemunka became an Aurukun Local Commissioner on 4 March 2010. She views education as the key to employment and encourages all students to make the most of their education and training to enhance future job opportunities.
Commissioner Keri TAMWOY (Putch Clan) although born in Cairns has lived her entire life in Aurukun. Commissioner Keri Tamwoy met her husband, Gerald Tamwoy, when they were 17 and 18 years old respectively and they have raised their six children in Aurukun. Commissioner Keri Tamwoy is a qualified mediator and has in previous years run the mediation program in Aurukun which has been a huge success in bringing families together to resolve issues without resorting to violence. Commissioner Keri Tamwoy considers the mediation program to be a valued service in Aurukun. Aurukun Commissioner Keri Tamwoy has previously worked as the Office Manager for the Aak Puul Ngantam Ranger Program, and now is the chairperson for the organisation. Commissioner Tamwoy is a Director of her husband’s business, and has her own business delivering cultural and community workshops for Aurukun stakeholders.
Commissioner Keri Tamwoy became an Aurukun Local Commissioner on 1 January 2018, aged 44. At the Local Government elections conducted on 28 March 2020 Commissioner Tamwoy was elected Mayor of the Aurukun Shire Council. She is extremely committed to supporting the Wik people of Aurukun and empowering them to grow and improve their community into the future. On 1 December 2021 Commissioner Keri Tamwoy was awarded the National NAIDOC person of the year. In 2022 the Paamp Aurukun State School Board was formed to address attendance and wellbeing of Aurukun school aged children with Commissioner Tamwoy also being an active member.
Commissioner Keri Tamwoy enjoys fishing and camping when she can find the spare time, or just a quiet day at home watching movies with her six grandchildren.
Commissioner Ada Panawya WOOLLA OAM (Winchanum Clan) was born and raised in Aurukun, leaving the community to attend boarding school and later Cairns Business College. From 2012 to 2020 Aurukun Commissioner Woolla held the position of Councillor in the Aurukun Shire Council, deciding not to stand as a candidate in the 2020 Local Government elections. Upon election to the position of Councillor for the Aurukun Shire Council in April 2012 she retired from her position as a Recognised Entity, where she worked to assist families and children in Aurukun.
In September 2014 Aurukun Commissioner Woolla was appointed to the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland. The Taskforce was established by the then Premier Campbell Newman and was chaired by the Honourable Quentin Bryce AD CVO, former Governor-General of Australia. On 26 January 2015 Aurukun Commissioner Woolla was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in recognition of her services to the community.
In September 2018 she was appointed to the Queensland First Children and Families Board. The Board was established to oversee the implementation of Our Way – A generational strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families 2017 – 2037 and Changing Tracks – An action plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families 2017 – 2019. Commissioner Woolla is also a foster and kinship carer, an office bearer in the church, a founding Member of the Aurukun Community Justice Group, and a respected mediator and community Elder. Her support for the education and training of young people is well recognised and together with her husband, Dereck Walpo, she strives to improve opportunities for her community.
Commissioner Dereck WALPO (Kiadilt Clan) was born and raised on Mornington Island. After completing his schooling on Mornington Island, he completed boarding school in Warwick Queensland. Commissioner Walpo then moved up to Cape York where he met his partner of 40 years, fellow Commissioner Ada Woolla of the Winchanum Clan. Commissioner Walpo has worked in various positions across Aurukun, including in plumbing, as a road worker and machinery driver before finding work in the health system and becoming the Team Leader of the Wellbeing Centre. He recognises the importance of mental health support and the need for these services to support remote Indigenous communities such as Aurukun. From 2012 to 2020 Commissioner Walpo held the position of Mayor in the Aurukun Shire Council, using his authority to work towards improving social norms and helping the community of Aurukun grow. Commissioner Walpo has two children and nine grandchildren and enjoys spending the weekends with his grandchildren fishing and hunting. Commissioner Walpo became an Aurukun Local Commissioner on 5 May 2022. He wants to use his new role as a Local Commissioner to further improve social norms and encourage parents to play a larger role in their children’s education.