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Executive Officer – Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

Sheena Graham is a Nadgu women from Western Australia and is passionate about international indigenous issues.  Sheena is an Assistant Director at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) where she currently manages international development policy for Australia’s overseas aid program.

Sheena first represented DFAT at the WIBF in 2015 where she delivered a speech about connecting indigenous peoples in developed countries (such as Australia) to indigenous peoples in developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region in order to provide culturally-appropriate assistance around economic development.

Sheena developed DFAT’s first Indigenous People’s Strategy over a seven year period and subsequently led the Australian Government’s efforts to influence global policy about economic development for indigenous peoples.  Sheena and the Australian Government delegation hosted a panel about the connection between economic empowerment and poverty reduction for indigenous peoples at the 2016 session of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP). EMRIP accepted Australia’s proposal for a study on indigenous businesses from a human rights perspective, with a focus on indigenous women and indigenous persons living with a disability, which it went on to release in July 2017 (link).  Sheena supported the WIBF secretariat, the Indigenous Leadership and Development Institute, to participate in a panel discussion at the 2017 session of EMRIP to explore practical actions for growing the global indigenous business sector.  Sheena went on to advance the economic policy interests of indigenous peoples in other fora, including the UN Human Rights Council, the UN General Assembly and the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Sheena has also developed a range of other Indigenous policy documents for DFAT, including its “Guidance Note for Reaching Indigenous Peoples in the Australian Aid Program” in 2015, its “Short Note: how to rate indigenous issues in aid quality checks” in 2016, and its “Promoting the economic interests of Indigenous Australian businesses overseas: a charter” in 2017.  Sheena was recognised for her accomplishments in a case study for the Australian Government’s Foreign Policy White Paper.