Our People

Our Board is 100% Aboriginal and we use trained staff and volunteers to drive the NASCA vision of a proud prosperous and healthy Australia for all.

TO ACHIEVE OUR VISION of transforming the lives of Aboriginal young people, we harness the skills of professionals and volunteers from various backgrounds and with diverse experiences.

The NASCA Board, CEO and staff have a wide range of skills and experience that underpins our work.  Our people have one thing in common and that’s passion and determination to achieve social equity for Aboriginal Australians.

Our board


Mick Gooda, Chairperson

Mick is a Gangalu Man from Central Queensland who has over 25 years experience as an advocate in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs.

  • This has covered extensive work across urban, rural and remote Australia as well as advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander human rights overseas,
  • Formerly Mick was the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,
  • Currently he heads the Royal Commission into the detention of Children in the Northern Territory,
  • He is passionate about the rights and empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


David Liddiard, Founder

David is a Ngarabal Man from Northern New South Wales. He founded NASCA in 1995 after 15 years as a professional Rugby League player in Australia and England.

  • He is currently the CEO of Corporate Connect AB,
  • David has won the Gold Harold Award for services to Aboriginal Health and Education (2010), The NSW Outstanding Community Service Award (2013) and an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) ‘For Service to Indigenous Youth, Sporting and Employment’.


Jason Ardler

Jason is a Yuin Man from the South Coast of New South Wales with years of experience working with Aboriginal communities and programs, particularly in New South Wales.

  • He was the former Executive Director of Culture and Heritage in the Department of Environment and Climate Change, focusing on strengthening Aboriginal people through connections to the natural environment,
  • He is the current General Manager of Aboriginal Affairs, NSW leading program development across economic participation, community governance, environmental health, improved service delivery and culture and language.

Aaron Simon

Aaron is an Anawan and Biripi Man from Western Sydney and he has seven years experience working in health promotion and youth work in the Western Sydney Aboriginal community.

  • He is the current Aboriginal Youth Education Officer for South West Sydney Local Health District,
  • He sees Western Sydney’s Aboriginal community as having enormous potential through the growing pool of young people and the knowledge of elders,
  • He is passionate about the passing on of culture and history and an holistic promotion of mental, physical and spiritual health to Aboriginal communities.


Chloe Wighton

Chloe is a Wiradjuri Woman from Gilgandra, New South Wales and she is proudly a former participant and Graduate of NASCA’s Academy Program in the Dubbo Region.

  • She completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Archaeology and is currently undertaking a Master of Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of Sydney.
  • Chloe is a strong advocate for Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.


Mark Heiss

Mark is a Wiradjuri Man from Sydney who is the Director of Teaching and Learning at a Sydney High School and has volunteered for NASCA over many years prior to taking on his NASCA Directorship.

  • He is passionate about physical activity and education while integrating Indigenous studies into the school day,
  • He was the first Aboriginal person to be named team captain for the University of Sydney at the Australian University Games,
  • Mark recently completed a Masters in Educational Leadership degree.

Our Staff

Our staff works hard to drive the vision of NASCA and strengthen the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people from many language groups, cultural backgrounds and locations in Australia.

Chief Executive Officer 


Leanne Townsend

Leanne is an Anaiwan Woman from Uralla, New South Wales who is passionate about social justice and advocating for the strength of Aboriginal culture permeating everyday Australian life.

  • She previously led key aspects of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008,
  • She was a Senior Advisor to Governor General Her Excellency Quentin Bryce,
  • Before joining NASCA in 2013, Leanne was CEO of The New South Wales Reconciliation Council and manager of the National NAIDOC Awards.


Sydney Team  

Dubbo Team