Speaker Profiles

Confirmed Speakers for AFFHO Congress 2021

Ray Martin


Ray Martin is one of Australia’s most respected television journalists and entertainment personalities. Having won the coveted Gold Logie five times, Ray is one of the most awarded stars of Australian television to date.
His popularity is of movie star status and Ray is best known for the many on-air roles he has performed on Channel 9 dating back to 1978, especially as one of the original presenters on 60 Minutes and A Current Affair and a long tenure as host of the Midday Show. Ray’s career began with ABC Television in Sydney as a Cadet Journalist in 1965 going on to be appointed ABC’s New York City correspondent in 1969. Ray continues to present an impressive list of top-rating programs and has provided countless hours of astounding, real life and honest journalism.
One of Ray’s stand out journalistic projects was working alongside personal friend, the legendary Sir David Attenborough and Ray hosted Attenborough’s most recent tour – A Quest for Life throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Babette Smith


Babette Smith is an independent historian who holds an adjunct position with the University of New England.. In 2015 she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her services to Australian history.
She is well known for her ground-breaking book A Cargo of Women which one historian described as ‘turning our understanding of the women convicts on its head’. It was first published in 1988 and is now in its second edition. Babette followed that in 2008 with Australia’s Birthstain which explained how shame about our penal history had distorted Australians’ understanding of their past.
Her latest book about the male convicts called The Luck of the Irish won the NSW Premier’s History Prize (Community & Regional) in 2015. It was described by the judges as ‘Beautifully written and convincingly argued… refreshingly original.’
She is currently writing a book about the female convicts for National Library of Australia Publishing

Sharn White


Sharn White, has a background in teaching and has been appointed as a Rootstech Ambassador seven times. She enjoys travelling to conferences,  peaking and meeting up with fellow genealogists. Sharn has been researching family history for over twenty five years and in more recent years has studied history, local history and family history at three universities. Plans to study a Masters of Genealogy are currently underway. A member of The Association of Researchers in Archives, Sharn enjoys presenting a range of topics, both in person at genealogy conferences and via online webinars. Sharn is the author of four family history blogs, all of which have been archived by The National Library of Australia’s website Pandora, for their contribution to Australian historical research. Her main blog is FamilyHistory4u but her Convict Research blog, Family Convictions – A Convict Ancestor gave rise to the opportunity to share her knowledge of convict history on an episode of Coast Australia with Neil Oliver. Sharn also researches house histories and works both independently and for David White Architects, a Heritage Architectural Practice.

David White


David is a registered Architect in NSW and is the Principal Architect in the firm David White Architects Pty. Ltd. The practice has been operating for 30 years in Sydney with the predominant work being Heritage and Heritage related. As an architect, David has been involved in community roles including the National Trust of NSW, Hornsby Council Heritage Committee and the Sydney North Planning Panel. David first visited Norfolk Island in October 2014 after Sharn White’s visit in June 2014 to appear on Coast Australia. He has since returned many times to the island. As an architect he has taken a keen interest in the island’s architectural heritage having visited a number of island homes, explored the convict heritage with its ruins and beautiful Georgian buildings.

James Donohoe


An enthusiastic Historian and Genealogist James has researched and developed some forty works, twenty of which have been published. Several of these works are novels which emerged from many of the stories he uncovered during his research. James has traced some of his ancestral lines back to William the Conqueror and one line back a further 2,000 years. James even discovered that one line of descendants of Olivia Gascoyne also descends from the famous Lady Rebecca Rolfe, historically recorded as “Pocahontas”. James is not on that line. However, James DNA matches with Pocahontas’ descendants on his father’s ancestral line. James’ Australian (Edward Goodin’s line) ancestors were cousins of the President of the USA, James Buchanan, who immediately preceded Abraham Lincoln .James’ works included. The Paracensus of Australia 1788-1828. Norfolk Island 1788-1813 the People and their Families The Catholics of New South Wales 1788-1828 and Their Families. Captain Bligh’s Petticoat Mutiny. The British Army in Australia 1788-1878 Index of Personnel. Publications pending include, Olivia, A Good Woman, James Squire, Brewer Extraordinaire, Kanaka The History of the British Army in Australia 1788-1878.

Lee Butterworth


Lee Butterworth is a Research Fellow with the Harry Gentle Resource Centre, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science at Griffith University. Her PhD thesis looked at the transformation of the office of coroner in Queensland between 1859 and 1959. Lee has previously worked on the Find & Connect web resource for Forgotten Australians and the Australian Women’s Archive Project. Lee’s research interests focus on Queensland history, child welfare history and Australian coronial law and history.

Cathy Dunn


Cathy’s first visit to Norfolk Island was in July 2010, speaking at the ‘Islands of History’ Professional Historians NSW Conference. Since then she has published many publications and research guides on Norfolk Island’s First Settlement 1788 – 1814, including HMS Sirius: Her Final Voyage and the upcoming ‘Baptisms and Marriages November 1791 Norfolk Island: Romance among the Pine Trees’. Cathy is a public historian, experienced presenter, holding a Master of History (UNE), and operate both Australian History Research and Heritage Tourism.

Melissa Hulbert


My background is in astronomy and physics and my day job is in this field. My interest in genealogy started at an early age and has grown over the years. My interest in genealogy started at an early age and has grown over the years. I am particularly interested in DNA and how it can aid family history research. I became a member of Botany Bay Family History Society and the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) in 2000. I joined the Board of Directors at the SAG in 2015 and in December 2018 became the first female President of the Society in its 88 years of operation. I also serve on the SAG Education and Finance committees. I am a regular presenter on various topics at SAG, a member of the TMG and DNA groups and coordinator of the Beginners DNA group.

Sue Reid


Sue Reid is passionate about online newspapers and has delivered many presentations on this subject. She has recently produced a book on her own ancestor, gleaning much of the information from the British Newspaper Archive. Sue has more than thirty years experience in family history research and is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society.

Jan Richardson


Jan Richardson is a Queensland historian with a Graduate Diploma in Local, Family and Applied History and a Master of Philosophy from UNE. Her MPhil thesis examined the lives of female convicts and ex-convicts who arrived in Queensland after the closure of the Moreton Bay penal settlement in 1839. Jan is currently a Visiting Fellow at Griffith University’s Harry Gentle Resource Centre and is compiling a biographical and photographic database of ex-convict women and their husbands in Queensland.

Janice Wellard


Janice Wellard is passionate about genealogy and family history and has completed a Graduate Diploma in Local, Family and Applied History through UNE. She is currently undertaking a Master of Philosophy research degree through UNE concentrating on a group of convicts who were prisoners on Norfolk Island between 1825 and 1839. Janice is a member of the Genealogical Society of Queensland, has presented workshops on a number of family history topics for the society, and is a regular research centre assistant.

Tamsin O’Connor


I am currently completing my Ph.D thesis at the University of Sydney on convict resistance and the Penal Stations of New South Wales. My academic career began at Edinburgh University, where I was fortunate to be part of an innovative convict studies group and I had the opportunity to publish in a number of landmark convict collections.

Kerry Farmer


Kerry Farmer is a researcher, presenter and teacher in genealogical studies. She is on the Board of the Society of Australian Genealogists and convenor of their Education Committee. She is Director of Australian Studies for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, developing their Australian Records courses. Kerry authored DNA for Genealogists (4th edn, 2017), Arrivals in Australia from 1788 (2015) as well as various genealogical Handy Guides for Unlock the Past.

Dr Liz Rushen


Dr Liz Rushen is a Research Associate in the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, Monash University and a Director of the Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network. She was formerly a Chair of the History Council of Victoria and the Executive Director of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. She is widely published in the field of migration history, women in colonial Australia and the social history of the Port Phillip District (Victoria). In 2018-19 Liz was awarded a Creative Fellowship by the State Library Victoria to research the life and writings of Edmund Finn (‘Garryowen’). Her latest book is John Marshall: shipowner, Lloyd’s reformer and emigration agent (Anchor Books Australia, 2020).

Shauna Hicks


Shauna Hicks has been tracing her own family history since 1977 and worked in government for over 35 years in Australian libraries and archives in Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne. She has written numerous family history guides and is a well-known speaker at conferences, seminars and genealogy cruises. She operates her own business at www.shaunahicks.com.au and is the author of the blog, Diary of an Australian Genealogist. Shauna has tertiary qualifications from Queensland universities including a Master of Arts in Australian Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Library Science and a Diploma in Family Historical Studies from the Society of Australian Genealogists. She is a Fellow of the Queensland Family History Society; a recipient of the Australian Society of Archivists Distinguished Achievement Award and the Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations’ Services to Family History Award.

Wendy Holz


Wendy Holz is a reference librarian with extensive experience at the State Library of New South Wales, which houses the world’s most significant collection of Australian and Pacific material. For many years Wendy has been assisting researchers and family historians to make the most of its diverse resources by showing them how to use its catalogues, databases and other bibliographic resources, as well as suggesting effective search strategies to track down information that will help them tell their story.

Dr Jonathon Richards


Dr Jonathon Richards specialises in colonial policing and justice, and s the author of ‘Secret War’ about he Native Police. He is a Research fellow with the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland, Brisbane.

Dr Kate Bagnall


Dr Kate Bagnall is a historian who researches and writes on migration, family and the law in Australia and New Zealand. Her current project explores the history of colonial naturalisation in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Kate is Senior Lecturer in Humanities and Course Coordinator of the Diploma of family History at the University of Tasmania.

Geoff Doherty


Geoff is both a Family Historian and a qualified Historian. But he was a Family Historian first, having caught the bug from his wife Margaret, and it is family history that is his main love. He has been heavily involved in family history societies over the years, having served on committees and as Secretary and President. He is currently President of the Tingalpa Cemetery Heritage Group Inc and Treasurer of the Queensland Professional Historians of Queensland Association. He has a foot in both camps. As such he has given many presentations at society, state, national and international level. He has even presented at conferences on cruise ships. Not that much of that is happening now. So he is happy to settle for a conference on an island.

Pauline Williams


Pauline Williams has been researching her family history for over 30 years and has regularly presented talks for Genealogical Society of Queensland and other organisations on a wide range of topics. Her interest in Tasmanian convicts arose from research undertaken for a family friend. She convenes GSQ’s Writing Group and regularly contributes to the Society’s blog.

Jan Gow


Jan is a past Treasurer and President of the NZ Society of Genealogists. Past board member for AFFHO and Professional Genealogists. For nearly 30 years Jan has organised her annual Hooked on Genealogy Tour – 6 weeks in Salt Lake City and the UK – researching and yes, using cake tins!! Jan has lectured on FH at local College night classes for close to 40 years. Fellow of Society of Genealogists. received AFFHO award and awarded the QSM for service to genealogy in NZ. Born in Wagga Wagga, but lived in New Zealand for many years!!

Scott Fairie


Brought up in Glasgow, an amateur genealogist has researched many families in Scotland and the south of England. Carried out a number of Monumental Inscription projects for the Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society. Retired from life as an Electronics Engineer in England, now close to London giving access to the National Archives for easier research into original records. With this resource, and so much now available on the internet, can be easily side-tracked!!

Janice Cooper


Janice’s current family history interest is focused on those ancestors from four family groups who arrived in Australia during the 25 years from 1791. A local historian, her publications include articles, books, blogs and a local history website. Her experience as a secondary teacher-librarian informs her interest in skills in research and writing.

Chelsea Evans


Born and raised on Norfolk Island, I studied at Griffith University completing a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with first class Honours in 2013, researching youth, culture and identity in relation to young people from Norfolk Island. I returned to Griffith University in July 2018 to begin my PhD focusing on cultural heritage, wellbeing and heritage representation. As a Norfolk Islander of Pitcairn decent I am passionate about the recognition of our Anglo-Polynesian cultural heritage through an understanding of our kamfram (ancestry) from our Polynesian foremothers and British forefathers. Using affective heritage studies and decolonial research allows for an investigation into the embodied nature of heritage on Norfolk Island as something that is done, lived and experienced.

Rhonda Griffiths


Rhonda is a Norfolk Island woman, passionate about her history, family and culture. Raised in a large close-knit Island family she is very active in promoting and handing on the Island heritage and culture, especially as a teacher of Norf’k language and cultural studies at the school. She is active in the community as a member of the Norfolk Island Council of Elders and Chair of the Norfolk Island Museum Trust. Rhonda has worked as Cultural Development Advisor for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and represented Norfolk Island in many regional and international forums talking about culture and development.

Leah Honeywood


Leah Honeywood is a 7th Generation descendant from the Bounty Mutineers. Her Grandmother, herself a descendant, constantly relayed stories of her unique family history, sparking a lifelong passion for genealogy and a strong sense of heritage like no other in the world. Returning to Norfolk after a period in Australia raising a family, Leah returned home and in her own words landed her ‘dream job’. With her knowledge, passion and skill, she quickly became fulltime in the Museums Research Centre.
“I have the best job in the world and I love going to work every day. Not only do I get to work in an ancestral home, but I also get to speak to people from all walks of life and help them breathe life into their long passed ancestors. It is a thrill to see and hear people’s excitement as we talk about what their ancestors would have done in their time here on the Island.”