Bernadette "Bernie" Goulding


Role: Founder of the Pacific Island publishing and community support organisation, Diversity Network Australia; Advisory member on various committees for Pacific Indigenous peoples rights; and manager of Health, Safety & Wellbeing for Scope Australia, an organisation supporting people with disabilities.

Active in countries: Australia, Fiji and the Pacific region.

DTP Program: 29th Annual Human Rights & People’s Diplomacy Program, Timor-Leste, 2019.


“I cannot recommend highly enough the DTP program and the life-changing learning that I got from it. The highly qualified and experienced instructors, including UN delegates, from around the world, made sure we had life-changing learning opportunities.”


Bernadette Goulding (Bernie) was born and brought up in Australia as a proud Fijian Australian. She has lived and worked in both Australia and her Indigenous community in Fiji and has over 30 years experience working in both countries in community development programs in health, human rights, lifesaving, training and safety. This has included working on the ground as a nurse in remote parts of Fiji to improve Indigenous health; working with the Red Cross creating the UN Peacekeeping Forces specialised war injuries workshops for soldiers and police; and working with the Fijian government on coordinating emergency teams for public events and following natural disasters.


Bernie is the author of a book about growing up biracial in white Australia. In her book she highlights the issues and challenges facing people of colour and the need for cultural understanding and support for successful multiculturalism. Her book Colour Outside The Lines: One Girl, Two Tribes reflects Bernie’s approach to inclusivity. Through her cross-cultural experiences, she shares her deep awareness and understanding of racial issues and the importance of Indigenous culture and respect.


Bernie currently works for Scope Australia, one of Australia’s largest service providers for people living with disability. Scope supports people with physical and intellectual disabilities to achieve their personal goals in life and to live as more empowered and equal citizens within more inclusive communities.  


Bernie uses her disability and Indigenous Fijian networks to engage with governmental processes at national and regional levels to drive positive change in Indigenous and Pacific Island communities. She is on the regional advisory committee at the Victorian Multicultural Commission; the Pacific Women’s Indigenous Network (part of the Pacific Advisory Committee); and she is Chair of the National Disability Services Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Group.


“The DTP program made me realize that it is not necessarily always about me going in to advocate for change, in line with the localisation agenda, I can support local people already working on the ground in their individual communities. It is about working together, in solidarity.”


In 2019, Bernie attended the DTP’s Human Rights and Diplomacy Program in Timor-Leste to further her knowledge and skills in supporting people within Indigenous communities and vulnerable peoples, particularly in Australia & the Pacific. Whilst attending this DTP program, Bernie was inspired by the achievements of DTP course participants active in localised community projects around the Pacific region and she established strong, ongoing networks with many of them. She recognized that these organisations were usually best placed to know what was needed to help their communities and how best to advocate. She also recognised that supporting these established, grass root organisations, including financially, could significantly increase their capacity to achieve positive change for the communities they worked for.


Bernie established Diversity Network Australia (DNA) to share stories, raise awareness and hopefully funds to support fellow DTP human rights defenders and their communities. DNA sells Indigenous items, art and books to raise funds. The first book to be sold through DNA, ‘The Children of the 12 tribes,’ is a collection of Indigenous stories and art from Timor-Leste, Fiji, Vanuatu, PNG, West Papua, Tokelau, Niue, Tonga, the Cook Islands and Samoa together with contributions from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The stories promote cultural understanding, connection and wellbeing.Interwoven with the stories is information on the rights of Indigenous people and the rights of the child. So far, funds from DNA are helping to support a ‘Youth Off The Streets’ program in Timor-Leste helping disengaged and ‘at risk’ kids in the community; AHDMTL, an organisation which helps people in Timor-Leste who are vision impaired and Cyclone Harold relief efforts in Fiji. Bernie continues to raise funds to support DTP course participants and their organisations in their human rights and humanitarian projects in the Pacific region.


“I have been inspired by José Ramos-Horta and his struggles to help the people of Timor-Leste achieve independence. He has always acknowledged the people who helped Timor-Leste and the importance of solidarity. My mission is to work with others to create a future where Indigenous people thrive, where diversity is celebrated and differences in culture are understood and seen in a positive light. I try to support those who have been disadvantaged, or faced discrimination to become empowered, to find identity and purpose and their sense of place in the world.”



Profile written July 2020.