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Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council
Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council

Our Board

The QAIHC Board oversees the work of the QAIHC Secretariat and taskforces, makes recommendations on issues concerning Membership and taskforce appointments, identifies and clarifies policy issues, and oversees the QAIHC Strategic Plan. The membership of the Board consists of:

Matthew Cooke


Matthew Cooke is a proud Aboriginal and South Sea Islander from the Bailai (Byellee) people in Gladstone, Central Queensland. Matthew has a background in serving the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Sector as both a Director and CEO over the past 15 years. Mr Cooke is currently the Chief Executive Officer for the Gladstone Region Aboriginal and Islander Community Controlled Health Service Limited t/a Nhulundu Health Service and Executive Chairperson of the First Nations Bailai, Gurang, Gooreng Gooreng, Taribelang Bunda People Aboriginal Corporation.

Matthew is actively involved in all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs at national, state, regional and local levels. In 2007 he was named Young Leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, in 2008 received the Deadly Vibe Young Leader Award and in 2011 received the Australian Institute of Management 2011 Young Manager of the Year Award - Gladstone.

Mr Cooke is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Director of the Institute for First Nations Governance Professionals.

Rachel Atkinson

Deputy Chairperson

Rachel is a proud Yorta Yorta woman who has dedicated her working life to improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Rachel has extensive lived experience in working in rural, remote and regional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This includes over 25 years’ experience as CEO of large community-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations delivering health and social services. She has been CEO of PICC since its incorporation in 2007, and has overseen its growth to become the larger service provider and employer on Palm Island.

Rachel is currently Chair of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak, a board member and community representative of the Queensland First Children and Families Board, Co-Chair of Family Matters Queensland and a Director of the SNAICC National Executive. She has previously served as the President of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), and is currently serving as the Deputy Chair of QAIHC.

Debra Malthouse

Far North Queensland Region Director

Deb Malthouse was appointed to the QAIHC board in October of 2022. She joined Apunipima Cape York Health Council in the role of Executive Manager Organisation Development in August 2020.  In January 2021, Deb was appointed the role of Chief Executive Officer. She brings a wealth of experience to her roles having worked for many years in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs in community controlled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and state and commonwealth government departments. Deb has spent the majority of her working life in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, she has also worked in the areas of child protection, legal services, native title, women’s crisis services and housing. Deb is a strong advocate of the community controlled health model and is passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dorothy Smith

North and Northwest Queensland Director

Dorothy Smith has been a director of QAIHC since April of 2023. She comes to QAIHC via her position as Director of the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Service where she was elected to the board in July of 2020. Dorothy holds a Bachelor of Psychological Sciences from James Cook University. Dorothy is currently the Coordinator of the Women’s Healing Service for Palm Island Community Company. She is the Vice President of Kindergarten Headstart; member of the Townsville University Hospital Indigenous Advisory Council; and founding member and Vice Chair of the First Nations Reference Group for Qld Police Service and worked in the Queensland Police Service, Queensland Health and Child Safety sector for the last 15 years. Dorothy represented Australia and Indigenous Australia in Oztag.

Stevan Ober

Central Queensland Region Director

Stevan is the Chief Executive Officer of Galangoor Duwalami Primary Health Care Service in Fraser Coast. He has over 25 years’ experience in the Queensland Government, health and the community control sector.

Stevan is a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Advisory Council (Wide Bay Hospital Health Service), a member of the St Stephen’s Private Hospital Advisory Committee and a former member of the Statewide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Alcohol and Drug Committee. He is also a current serving member of Marine Rescue Queensland (Hervey Bay squadron) and has been awarded the National Medal for Service from the Governor-General of Australia.

Sheryl Lawton

South and South-West Region Director

Sheryl has been the Chief Executive Officer of Charleville Western Areas Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Health Services Ltd. (CWAATSICH) for the past 21 years. Before becoming the CEO, Sheryl was employed in many positions of influence within Aboriginal affairs and Aboriginal community control services, spanning Aboriginal Legal Services, Aboriginal Social Housing, Aboriginal Land Council and Aboriginal Childcare.

Sheryl was instrumental in the establishment of the Aboriginal Child Care Agency (ACCA) of South West Queensland and importantly the ongoing development and growth of CWAATSICH. Sheryl has also been an avid representative of Aboriginal Affairs at both the regional, state and national levels. Sheryl has been Chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Regional Council – Goolburri Regional Council, held the position of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of QAIHC and Director of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) over a number of years.

Sheryl was also the national representative of SNAICC, has represented her people on the South West Health and Hospital Service Health Council and is currently a director of the Western Queensland Primary Health Network. Sheryl is passionate in ensuring the future of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector and is committed to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy.

David Collins

South East Queensland Region Director

David Collins is the Chief Executive Officer of Yulu-Burri-Ba Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health. Yulu-Burri-Ba (YBB) covers the Southern bayside areas of Brisbane and includes the Redland Bay council areas and is based on Stradbroke Island.

David has over 50 years of experience in the First Nations community including involvement in the many community organisations in and around South East Queensland where he served on many Boards. 

David’s background includes eight years with the Black Community Housing Service, 30 years with the Commonwealth Government starting with Centrelink and finishing with Aboriginal Hostels Limited—where he served 25 years as the State Manager for Queensland. During this period, David helped establish and monitor many community hostels for local communities.

Since his retirement from AHL, David has spent the last several years as the CEO of YBB. Although relatively new to the health portfolio, David brings experience in many areas of First Nations governance.

Adrian Carson

Independent Director

Adrian Carson is a Cobble Cobble man from Queensland’s Western Downs Region. He was born and bred on Turrbal, Jagera and Quandamooka country in South East Queensland. 

Adrian is the CEO of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, a Community-Controlled Health Organisation and has held this role for more than 11 years. He is a former CEO of QAIHC, former Board Member of Brisbane ATSICHS and is a founding member of Galangoor Duwalami Healthcare Service.

Adrian has held senior policy and program roles within both the Queensland and Australian Governments and served on various committees, including most recently the Queensland Reform Planning Group and the Primary Health Care Reform Steering Committee. He is a Board Member of the Metro North HHS. Adrian holds a Graduate Certificate in Health Service Management from Griffith University and is completing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Queensland.