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Heron Loban takes leading board role at the Australian Financial Complaints Authority

David Prestipino -

Highly-respected Indigenous lawyer Heron Loban has been appointed to the independent board of financial industry watchdog the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

Renowned for her consumer advocacy work, the appointment of Dr Loban, a proud descendant of the Mabuyag and Boigu people, will become effective on January 1.

AFCA board chair, Professor John Pollaers OAM, said Dr Loban would bring an impressive set of skills and experience to the board and make a strong contribution, given her experience as a company director with consumer experience.

"Throughout her career she has been passionate about access to justice and fairness and she recognises the vital role that ombudsman schemes play in helping to secure fair resolutions to financial disputes," Professor Pollaers said.

The AFCA board consists of an independent Chair and an equal number of directors with consumer and industry experience, covering the multi-dimensional and highly complex industries AFCA deals with.

Dr Loban is an academic, company director at Mura Lagh, a First Nations-owned and led consulting firm, and in-house counsel with Queensland South Native Title Services.

She has also recently served as a director of First Nations Strategy at Queensland Performing Arts Centre and held several academic positions, including senior lecturer posts at Griffith University and James Cook University.

Her PhD thesis was on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and consumer law.

Her considerable experience as a lawyer extends to work as principal legal officer at Gur A Baradharaw (GBK) Torres Strait Sea and Land Council, as CEO of the Torres Strait and NPA Legal Service and solicitor with the Torres Strait Regional Authority and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

"The board is excited to be welcoming Heron as a leader, a First Nations woman, a lawyer, a consumer advocate and an academic," Professor Pollaers said.

"Her involvement with multiple community and industry groups gives her a unique perspective."

Dr Loban is a member of the First Nations Clean Energy and Emissions Reduction Advisory Committee, the Indigenous Advisory Group of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), and the Advisory Board for Reforming Legal Education.

She has also been Co-Chair of the First Nations Cultural Heritage Protection Alliance, a Member of the Council of Australian Law Deans Working Party on First Peoples Partnership, a director of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and a member of the Telstra Chief Executive Officer Consumer Roundtable.

Dr Loban's appointment comes after proud Nanda woman from Yamatji country, Raylene Bellottie, was appointed as a director of AFCA late last month.

Dr Loban will replace Carmel Franklin on the independent board, who was an inaugural member in 2018 after serving as a consumer director on the board of one of its predecessor schemes, the Financial Ombudsman Service.

"We thank Carmel for her dedication and outstanding contribution over nearly nine years with AFCA and FOS," Professor Pollaers said.

"She has been a stalwart on the board, providing invaluable consumer insights and expertise."

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