The Mark Ella Foundation programs are the vision of Mark Ella, an Australian sporting legend who is highly respected within the ATSI communities.
Regarded as one of the finest players Australia have ever produced, Mark Ella won 25 caps for the Wallabies between 1980 and 1984 – 10 of them as captain – and was described by team-mate David Campese as “the best rugby player I have ever known or seen”.
A fly-half with exceptional skill, he was a star of the famous Australian schoolboys squad that toured Britain undefeated in 1978 and he returned to the United Kingdom in 1984 to mastermind the Wallabies’ Grand Slam tour of the home countries, after which he never played for his country again, retiring at the age of 25. His coaching career included spells with the Australia Sevens team – who he steered to abronze medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur – before returning as an assistant in 2008.
He was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1983 having been voted the Young Australian of the Year in 1982. In 2005 he was honoured as one of the inaugural five inductees into the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame and in 1995 he was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame. In 2022 he joined Australia’s most highly regarded players the likes of Sir Donald Bradman AC, Evonne Goolagong MBE, Murray Rose, and Richie Benaud as champion athletes from NSW that went on to achieve great things in their chosen sport when he was elevated to Legend status in the New South Wales Hall of Champions.
He is passionate about Indigenous athletes, boys and girls, men and women fulfilling the promises that they are born with and through sport give themselves and the communities every opportunity to be successful and live their dreams.
“My greatest hope for the future is a world of equality where our diversity is celebrated and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are recognised in all facets of life. Although there have been many celebrated Indigenous sports stars, after many years, we are still being subject to racism. I would love to see these barriers being broken down on and off the field, so that the colour of your skin and your culture is not an issue and the focus remains on your sporting talent”.
Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO served as Governor of New South Wales from 1 March 2001 to 1 October 2014 and was the first woman to be appointed to the role. Born in Narrandera in the Riverina district of New South Wales, and educated at the Narrandera Public School and Sydney Girls High School, Marie Bashir completed a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Sydney in 1956.
Professor Bashir taught at the Universities of Sydney and NSW, increasingly working with children’s services, psychiatry and mental health services, and Indigenous health programs and Senior Consultant to the Aboriginal Medical Service, Redfern and to the Aboriginal Medical Service, Kempsey.
In June 2014, Professor Bashir was named as a Dame of the Order of Australia for extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit in service to the administration, public life, and people of New South Wales, particularly as an advocate for improved mental health outcomes for the young, marginalised and disadvantaged.