One Person's Reconciliation Journey in Australia

Mark Champley | Learning & Development Associate, People & Culture at Transport for New South Wales; University of New South Wales Adjunct Faculty


A recording of the Public Colloquium is provided above. These materials are available for non-commercial use only. If you use of these materials for non-commercial purposes, please make sure to give proper attribution: 

Champley, Mark. (2023, September 21). One person’s reconciliation journey in Australia – SFU Psychology Indigenous Reconciliation Committee Invited Speaker Colloquium, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

The events and recording are offered free to attendees and others. If you would like to make a donation in appreciation of these materials, you may wish to consider some of the following options:
- the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, visit:
Indspire, visit:


When: September 21st, 2023
Where: Hybrid

Mark Champley offered a Hybrid Public Colloquium (9-10:30am PT -- BLU 10021 for in-person attendees) and an additional follow-up Small Group Meeting (10:30-11:30am PT -- BLU 10021 for selected/invited Indigenous students and scholars).

The event was opened by Gary George from the SFU Office for Aboriginal Peoples. We thank him for his opening.

These events were organized with Indigenous Tutoring and Mentorship Program. We thank Todd Nelson and the ITMP for working closely with Mark Champley in his two week visit to SFU during his Churchill Trust Fellowship, and for inviting the IRC to work with them in the organization these events which form part of his fellowship visit.

Abstract for the main colloquium 

In this talk, Mark Champley discusses his journey of reconciliation in the Australian context.  In his work with the iconic Sydney Ferries, he was able to increase Aboriginal Employment from 2% to 5% in a 3-year period. In 2013 he facilitated the first time the Aboriginal flag to fly on Sydney ferries during National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee Week celebrations. In his more recent work with Transport for New South Wales, he was a member of Transport Reconciliation Advisory Committee and later the steering committee; in this work the TRAC delivered the largest Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in the public service in August 2019.  Mark has also been managing the Aboriginal Career Development & Mentoring Program. In this program,  there is support, career development and extension of cultural knowledge of non-Aboriginal people. Mentees/Mentors come together through workshops, events and informal meetings in a unique reverse mentoring model; in the 2020 Cohort, 50% of the participating mentees have moved into more senior roles. He has also co-led the implementation of the Stolen Gen Memorials from the Unfinished Business Report (Recommendations 11, 12 &13); supported the repatriation of 7 Aboriginal skeletal remains to Awabakal Country where they were taken in 1837; supported the transfer of a retired ferry asset (Lady Northcott) to Aboriginal charity Tribal Warrior; and supported the development of the Aboriginal Cultural Learning Framework.   

ABOUT Mark Champley

Mark Champley is a Learning & Development Associate, People & Culture at Transport for New South Wales. Mark Champley was born on Wongal Country and has lived on Darkinjung land for over 20 years. His ancestors are Kamilaroi and Wiradjuri. Mark has had a long commitment to Aboriginal equality, reconciliation and cultural engagement. Having held board positions with Mingaletta Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and is currently a member of Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, and Babana Aboriginal Men’s Group. Mark was appointed Uncle at the prestigious St Joseph College Hunters Hill 2014 – 2017 to support Indigenous students. 

Mark is a leader with extensive experience driving customer service excellence in the transport, retail and hospitality industries both in Australia and internationally. He has worked in Transport for over 30 years and is currently the Associate Learning & Development People & Culture. Mark represents Transport for New South Wales on the Aboriginal Reference Group , Reconciliation Advisory Committee and the NSW Public Sector Commission Aboriginal Employment Advisory Committee. Mark is a current member of the University of New South Wales Adjunct Faculty and in 2019 his first short story was published in the inaugural Blak Unsweetened Journal. Mark believes his life's mission was passed down from his ancestors, through his mother, to himself, driving him to work tirelessly for true reconciliation in Australian society and equality for his people. Mark is currently a Winston Churchill Trust Fellow to continue learning, sharing knowledge & best practice in reverse mentoring to support reconciliation; his visit to Simon Fraser University is a component of this Fellowship.

Some Resources

Mark Champley talked about many important projects. Some links to this some of this work (e.g., with UNSW, Transport NSW Reconciliation Action Plan), and some resources are provided here. In addition, Mark spoke of the current absence of recognition of First Nations People in the Austrialian Consititution -- something which is present in the Canadian Constitution; e.g., under recognition of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis as Indigenous Peoples under Section 35.

A critical referendum on Indigenous Issues in Australia was scheduled for October 14, 2023. The outcome of this referendum is summarized on a variety of platforms (e.g., Australia rejects proposal to recognise Aboriginal people in constitution | Australia news | The Guardian). We hope you will learn more about this referendum and show your support for the recognition of Australia's First Nations People in the Australian Constitution. 


The Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese has called for Australia’s 45th referendum.

The vote is to recognise Australia’s First Nations People in the Constitution and to create an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

The Voice will be an advisory group to assist with any decisions concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To be successful you need a double majority, national majority and states majority (4 out of 6 sates).

Only 8 referendums since the creation of the Constitution in 1901 have been successful. The most successful occurred in 1967, when First Nations People were included in the census. Before this they were regarded as flora and fauna.

The referendum has come after 8 years of consultation and the creation of the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ in 2017.

In 1967 Indigenous people were counted in 2023 they are seeking to be heard. The referendum is set for 14th October 2023 and Australia are at the crossroads of their reconciliation journey.  View the various links to show your support! [Video promoting the "yes" vote]
Read More

Reconciliation in Australia – Our History, Our Story, Our Future.

Australia has Reconciliation Australia ( which is an "independent not-for profit organisation, the lead body for reconciliation in Australia. ...[They] promote and facilitate reconciliation by building relationships, respect and trust between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples."

There are important works that they have done including being involved with a video: Reconciliation in Australia -- Our History, Our Story, Our Future. We hope that you will watch this video, and that it will serve as point of reflection and action.

Other Useful Knowledge Resources regarding the Australian Context

  • Uluru Dialogues:
  • Together Yes:
  • Get Up Campain:
  • Run for the Voice:
  • Boyer Lectures with Noel Pearson:
  • Co-design report:
  • National Indigenous Australians Agency:
  • Emporwered Communities:

If you are interested in additional resources on topics around Reconciliation/Decolonization/EDI, you may also interested in visiting the SFU Psyc IRC Resources page and links. They are continually being updated: