Darlene Fell

Darlene Fell

Darlene Fell's personal challenge is to contribute to the improvement to the quality of life of Indigenous Australian people, and her professional aspiration is to excel in community management and development and be a leader in this field.

Darlene was born on and grew up on Thursday Island for most of her life. She is a proud Wuthathi Aboriginal woman with a mixture of Malay, Philippine and Irish heritage.

At 19 Darlene had her first daughter, and while being a young mother she sewed to keep busy and active. She held her first solo fashion parade on Thursday Island in late 1980s and has continued to sew, mainly as a hobby. Later on she joined forces with her sister Irene Robinson and they held a few fashion parades and photo shoots portraying the natural beauty of Thursday Island's girls, women and men.

From her early 20s Darlene has held management positions. Her first manager role was as manager for Muralag TSI Corporation at Horn Island, which managed the CDEP program for Horn and Thursday Island. By this time Darlene had married and had 3 daughters.

In 1994 Darlene moved to Cairns where she managed a women's shelter, and while employed got her Bachelor of Applied Science in Community Management and Development with Curtin University in Western Australia. Then it was time to move back home.

In 2001, returning home was exciting. She was successful in gaining employment as executive officer with Torres Strait Regional Employment Council (Area Consultative Committee), where she applied all her study experience and assisted communities and corporations to develop grants in the area of community development and infrastructure projects.

Being busy with manager roles was not enough. Darlene also was involved in community organisations as a volunteer and was president and committee member of Mura Kosker Sorority Inc (Regional Womens Organisation) for over 10 years, as well as member of Lena Passi Womens Shelter, Torres Strait Cooperative Sorority, Kaurareg Aboriginal Corporation, Horn Island Aboriginal Corporation and Torres Shire Councils Indigenous Advisory Committee.

Some of her achievements of which she is most proud include:

  • Recognition Certificate: My Pathways 2012 Most Culturally Inclusive (Team Award)
  • Management Excellence Awards: 2007 Finalist, Rural/Remote Manger of the Year Cairns
  • 2009 Australia Day Awards: Torres Shire Council Prestigious Award for Appreciation.

A great opportunity came along in 2009, when Darlene became regional manager of Thursday and Horn Island CDEP scheme (back to CDEP). In 2010 Community Enterprise Australia (CEA) won the Torres Strait contact and then Darlene became the Regional Manager of the Torres Strait, responsible for all outer island (14) and inner island communities to deliver CDEP.

The contract changed to Regional Jobs Community Plan (RJCP) in 2013, and Darlene left to have a break and pursue running her consultant business. Darlene commenced her consultancy business in 2013, Gud Pasin Biznis, which provides a range of services to community, community based organisations, non government organisations, government departments and private businesses. Her main work was in the area of strategic planning, business planning, governance, policy and procedures and grant writing. She found it was very satisfying working directly with people and communities. Unfortunately the priorities of government funding and communities were not always aligned and while the work was there, the funding was not.

In 2015 Darlene got a contract with TSRA to work in their economic development team. This has been a good opportunity to learn about government and how they think and work. She hopes to go back and do more consultant work in the future, as that is her passion.

"I base my success and achievements on the support from my husband to pursue my dreams, my daughters, my sister who has always been my biggest cheerleader, my family and dear friends," said Darlene. "I would like to think that my journey has and will inspire our upcoming leaders and workforce. I am now a proud grandmother of 8, soon to be 9 grandchildren and this is by far my favourite role."