Michael is CEO and a founding Director of Message Stick. Michael took up his new position in January 2004.
Michael’s journey to this new role in corporate Australia is not the typical route of Australia’s senior businesspeople.
Michael is a Ngarrindjeri Monaro man from Southern NSW.
In 1963, at the age of two, Michael was removed from his mother and family. He was not to know his father. He did not see his mother again until Michael was 18, when they first met at his father’s funeral in 1979.
Michael’s boyhood was spent in foster homes and in state ward homes throughout New South Wales. Michael’s inner determination to survive adversity saw him complete his Higher School Certificate in 1979.
Tertiary studies in Aboriginal Affairs at the South Australian Institute of Technology in Adelaide were completed in 1984.
In his late twenties, Michael overcame serious drug and alcohol addictions that almost claimed his life.
Michael then spent time in assisting the rehabilitation of others. It was now that he accepted a position with the Illawarra Area Health Service as the Illawarra Aboriginal Health Officer, providing programs and workshops to Aboriginal communities from Helensburgh to Ulladulla.
He has been nominated, accepted and sat on a number of National Aboriginal Health Policy Working Parties, being directly responsible to the Federal Health Ministers of the day, in relation to specific Aboriginal health service delivery issues and policies.
Michael’s input at both Federal and State Health and Education Government levels has earned him recognition and respect throughout Aboriginal communities nationally.
As an artist, he has exhibited his works at the Australian Museum in NSW, the National Art Gallery in Canberra, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Exhibition in Darwin and has entered the Archibald – Suliman Portrait Exhibition, on a number of occasions.
Throughout the 1980’s, Michael enjoyed painting exclusively on a private commission basis only. Few of his paintings were exhibited as most of his works completed in this period were purchased outside of Australia, mainly to overseas visitors who commissioned him for family or group portraits.
The 1990’s brought Michael’s artwork to national attention, with the completion and exhibition nationally of his widely recognised “Don Freed and Friends” which was purchased by the Wollongong City Gallery.
Michael’s future is aimed at advocating the need for Australian society (particularly the private sector and our Governments) to embrace, and support, the challenge Indigenous people face when his people begin the journey towards economic independence.
His Message Stick business model is aimed at proving that Indigenous and non-indigenous people can work together to achieve generic economic results – yet still fully support, and participate in, community growth.
Michael’s specific objective with Message Stick is to carefully build a modest, but credible, national Aboriginal Telecommunications business that is relevant and significant to remote Indigenous communities.
Remote Indigenous communities remain the most disadvantaged telecommunications users in Australia – a situation Michael aims to make an impact upon in the coming decade.
Michael entered the private sector in 1996, starting an Indigenous ISP business and promoting this to both National/Sate Government and the corporate sectors. It was during this period that Michael gained exposure and experience in the IT and Telecommunications sectors.
If you would like to contact Michael, you can e-mail him at: email@example.com