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Craig Ritchie is an Aboriginal man of the Dhunghutti and Biripi nations and is the Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). Prior to coming to AIATSIS he was Branch Manager, International Mobility in the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. In this role he was the senior departmental executive responsible for the Australian Government’s Endeavour Awards, which support international student and researcher mobility, and policy leadership on qualifications recognition. He was the Departmental lead on the Australian Government’s education relationships in America, the Middle East and Africa, along with APEC and UNESCO.
From late 2011 to mid-2015 he was the Branch Manager of the Access and Participation Branch in the Higher Education Reform Group, of the Department of Education where he led two major systemic reform initiatives in higher education: the first in reframing the national approach to widening participation policy and programs in higher education; the second in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education through the implementation of the findings of the landmark Review of Access and Outcomes in Higher Education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (the Behrendt Review).
Born and raised in rural New South Wales he was the first in his family to go to University. After graduation from the University of Newcastle, he taught secondary English and History in Gosford for seven years before joining the staff of the AWABAKAL Newcastle Aboriginal Co-operative in April 1996.
At AWABAKAL, Mr Ritchie led a process of organisational development issuing in the development of AWABAKAL first Corporate Plan. He was responsible for the operations of the AWABAKAL Aboriginal Medical Service that provided comprehensive primary health care, in a community-controlled model, to Aboriginal communities from Murrurundi to Wyong and north to Nelson Bay. It was under Craig’s leadership that the first Hunter Area Aboriginal Health Partnership Agreement was negotiated between the Aboriginal Medical Service and the Hunter Area Health Service.
From 1999-2002, Mr Ritchie was Chief Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) - the peak advocacy body for Aboriginal community controlled health services. In late 2002 he moved from the community sector to the public service as Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Policy for ACT Health where he established the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit and led the development of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Family Wellbeing Plan, a blue print for wellbeing focussed whole of Government action in the ACT. In February 2010 he took up the position of Assistant Secretary, Remote Health Services Development Branch in the Department of Health and Ageing where he was responsible of a program of primary health care reform for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.
As a senior public servant, Mr Ritchie has had responsibility for major systemic reform initiatives including remote primary health care service delivery, place-based community development through the Remote Service Delivery National Partnership. He is one of a small cohort of Indigenous public servants who provide significant leadership in the broader whole-of-government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs particularly as a member of the Commonwealth Indigenous Reform Group.
Mr Ritchie was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2006 to research models Indigenous of leadership in the USA and Canada. He has post-graduate qualifications in Management and is a PhD scholar at the University of Sydney where he is researching the implications of Aboriginal culture for public policy development and implementation. He holds adjunct appointments at the University of Sydney (Health Sciences) and the University of Technology Sydney (Indigenous Research).