Leadership Group


The Remote Alcohol and Other Drugs Workforce (RAODW) Program Leadership Group is an advisory and conduit for the RAODW. To be the voice of the RAODW to assist policy maker’s directive and ministers where possible to make informed decisions on AOD issues pertaining to NT Indigenous peoples.


• To establish an advisory function to ensure decision making processes are well informed.
• To provide a forum that has open communication for key stakeholders to seek advice and recommendations.
• Provide resources, training, mentoring and information regarding current AOD issues and activities to the main body of the RAODW.
• To ensure the RAODW Program is delivered within a sustainable, effective and culturally appropriate framework.
• To provide advice on broader issues that may affect or influence the effective delivery of the RAODW Program.
• Build and maintain partnerships across the range of sectors concerned in dealing with and addressing Indigenous alcohol, tobacco and other drug related issues.
• Inform and educate relevant sectors on Indigenous alcohol, tobacco and other drug related issues.
• To be as role models and mentors to the RAODW.
• To establish and oversee a data collection framework for Program evaluation and continuous quality improvement purposes.
• To assist and promote communication about the RAODW Programs objectives and achievements within the broader health services community.

Top End Cluster Leadership Group Support

Leon James

Remote AOD Worker – Gunbalanya.  I am a Yorta Yorta man born in Wangaratta, Victoria.  My father was Yorta Yorta and my mother was Gunaikumai, South East Victoria.  I attended school to Year 10 Secondary in Melbourne and was an apprentice electrician fixing and maintaining lifts.  I have a current partner of 35 years, three daughters and one son.  I am a grandfather and great grandfather to eighteen (18) lovelies. 

My AOD involvement commenced in 1979 as an Aboriginal Health Aid and I have managed and been employed in AOD Programs for 38 years.  My employment and achievements include:-

  • Executive Director – FORWAARD
  • Director – Alcohol Rehab – Kalano
  • Remote AOD Worker
  • Board Member/Treasurer – FORWAARD
  • NT Representative – 1988 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Substance Abuse Council
  • NT Representative – 2002 ANCD Indigenous Reference Group
  • Graduate Diploma of Indigenous Health (Substance Use)

My passion to see people adapt to a better quality of life is as strong today as it first was in 1979!!

Blossom Buckland 

Blossom (my name given by my sister’s father – ‘Purramunta’).  I have a daughter Karma Lee and I have two gorgeous grandies – Willow Thelma (31/2 years) and a grandson, Bohdi (5 months).  I currently work for Danila Dilba Health Services in Darwin.

I really love working with the homeless mob here – they come from all over Northern Territory.  I am from Victoria originally and lived on Gumbaynngirr country in mid North Coast where I managed a drug and alcohol rehab for young people.

It was a Therapeutic diversionary program and I loved working with out youth who want to change their lives for the better.  I believe people can change – given support and opportunity!  I started work in community services about 25 years ago as a youth worker and have worked in protective services, local council art projects, juvenile justice hostels, secure settings/detention, fostercare and more.
My career goals are to eventually work remote.  I love connecting with people and supporting them on their journey to better healthy choices.

Phillip Butler 

Born and raised in Katherine, NT, from a large family and even larger extended family group in Katherine and the Katherine East region.  From my mother, I identify as a Jawoyn, connected to this area. 

My professional career started in Adelaide, SA, where I completed a Certificate III in Aboriginal Primary Health Care and did some work as an Aboriginal Health Worker.  After returning to my home town of Katherine in 2007, I took on a traineeship at Health Services in the Social and Emotional Sector and completed a Diploma in Primary Health Care.  From there I worked in various SEWB and Mental Health roles with Wurli, Sunrise Health Services, Danila Dilba Health Services and Katherine Regional Aboriginal Health and Related Services.

 I then returned to Wurli Health Services in 2013 and worked in the Family Support Program working with families who were engaged with the then DCF (Welfare).  During this time I completed a Diploma in Child, Youth and Family Interventions. From there I transferred into my current roll with the AOD program at Wurli on July 1 of 2016. I enjoy working in my home town with my people and at time it can become overwhelming and it’s always important to look after yourself. I have a very supportive family group who I am in close contact with and a good network of close friend also.

We are lucky here in Katherine as we have a beautiful river that flows through our town and a lot of time is spent enjoy the river for swimming, fishing, camping. It’s also good to get away for a weekend and relax with many places just down the road it’s never hard to find somewhere to enjoy from the city to the bush.  


East/Barkly Cluster Leadership Group Support

Diane Mayers 

Currently the Alcohol and Other Drug worker based in Elliott.  I am a descendant of the Kalkadoon tribe with family links to Waanyi and Warramungu.  I have been a part of the Leadership Group for the past four years.  We have previously been learning and developing the Leadership Group and we now have a strong team. 

I have been involved in Alcohol and Other Drugs for the past twenty-five years and find this an ever-changing and challenging area.  I am proud to say that I am on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Centre for Research Excellence which is a national research program that aims to reduce the effects of alcohol use during pregnancy by supporting families to reduce or stop alcohol use in pregnancy, increasing awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, finding effective treatment and improving access to services for children with Fetal Alcohol spectrum Disorder and their families. 

Mary Suka 

From Saibai Island in the Top Western Division of Torres Strait to living and working in Borroloola, representing two clan groups – Ait Koedal (ker-dahl) and Samu (sah-mu). 

My journey as a Remote Alcohol and Other Drug Worker began in Katherine in 2013.  Since then, I have completed a Diploma in Community Services (AOD and Mental Health) and steadily working towards my nursing degree. I have encountered many challenges both professionally and personally, however, it has been an absolutely rewarding journey thus far.  It has always been a passion of mine to help people and my hopes are to continue doing so. 


Central Cluster Leadership Group Support

Tania Taylor 

Tania is a proud Narungga woman from the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia and has family connections across the state.  She brings to the Leadership Group, fifteen plus years of experience in community development, program development, strategic planning, project management, strong leadership and mentoring skills.

Tania also has vast experience and knowledge having worked and lived in Aboriginal communities across Australia in metropolitan, rural and remote settings at an executive and grassroots level.  Tania is very passionate about working in a culturally sound way and striving for the best outcomes for Aboriginal people. 

Shane Franey

Shane is a Central Arrernte man from Alice Springs with family and land connection in Mt Isa and Boulia to SA Great and all through the Northern Territory. 

Shane brings to the Leadership Group, a vast knowledge of teaching and training and leadership background, with strong community development and project management.  Culture and sport are his strong passion, especially cricket.  He has travelled extensively throughout the Northern Territory and Queensland in the teaching profession and community development, working towards empowering people towards a strong and brighter future.