Ross Clark



Ross Clark is a Director of PacificPlus Consulting, a business providing leadership and governance consultancy to the Asia-Pacific region. He has a Bachelor of Education and a Diploma in Psychology.

Ross has taught, developed educational guidance services and led schools and educational institutions from early childhood to Technical and Further Education colleges. He developed a paraprofessional Indigenous counselling workforce that currently operates throughout Queensland and was instrumental in the establishment of a remote area teacher education program that has enabled over 200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island teachers to study and graduate where they live. Prior to retiring from Education Queensland, Ross was the Regional Director for Education for Far North Queensland.

As a Director of PacificPlus Consulting, Ross has more recently provided leadership development and support to medical staff in Queensland Health, and educational leadership services to schools across Australia and PNG. Ross is currently a board member of the Australian International School in PNG.

Gordon Herbertson



Gordon Herbertson has spent his adult life as a professional educator working in many roles including teacher, Principal, consultant and corporate trainer. In a career spanning 41 years, he has worked both in Australia and overseas before his retirement in early 2017.

In 1976, Gordon took his first trip to an Indigenous community and since that time, has lived in, worked in, and travelled to, almost every Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander community in Queensland. Margaret, his wife of 39 years, is a Torres Strait Islander and together they enjoy a large extended Indigenous family.

He has a strong connection to and interest in history and in particular, maritime history. He served for nearly twenty years as an officer in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve and was the foundation president of the Maritime Archaeological Association of Far North Queensland. He is also a member of the UK’s Nautical Archaeological Society.

He started writing seriously about 25 years ago, but after a stint focussing on short stories and articles, put his writing aspirations aside to concentrate on his family and career. He returned to serious writing in 2017 and recently completed the first novel of a planned trilogy.

James Gaustad



In his role as auditor at BDO Cairns, James has worked with charities, not-for-profits and Indigenous organisations for the last 15 years. About 75% of his clients are not-for-profit or Indigenous organisations, and he’s in charge of all of his firm’s licenced club audits. Whilst they may be not-for-profits, his clients still the same accounting challengers as other businesses, and a big part of his role is helping overcome those challengers.

James is also a big supporter of local charities, which is why people often hear about him being involved in fundraising events and campaigns for worthy causes. James currently serves on the Cairns Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal Committee and on BDO’s ‘Be Generous’ committee, an internal committee which arranges fund-raising and supports charity organisations and events throughout the year.

James is a Registered Company Auditor and a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA). He holds a Bachelor of Business from Waikato Institute of Technology.

Diane Finlay

Committee Member


Diane left the chilly winds of north east England in 1995 to make Cairns her home. The warm tropical breezes stimulated her imagination and writing buds. She is author, illustrator and publisher of The Duck with no Quack. The School Magazine has published a number of children’s short stories and poems and recently requested permission to re-run a story due to the feedback it generated.

Adult short stories and poems feature in several Tropical Writers anthologies and in Short and Twisted anthologies. Short ’n’ Black, which Diane self-published, is an e-book series.

Diane is very proud to have been part of the pioneering team which brought the 2008 inaugural festival to the readers and writers of this region. She worked as Events Coordinator for three festivals and was involved in the groundwork for the 2012 festival.

Diane also served as Regional Writers representative and chair of local RADF committee, and offered a writers’ perspective on the new five year plan for the Cairns region. She is currently working on children’s novels and belongs to the Cairns Chapter of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

She is very happy to be part of Cairns Tropical Writers Festival Inc. committee and is looking forward to CTWF 2020.

Sandi Taylor

Committee Member


Sandi Taylor is a Kalkadoon, Ngnwun and Jirandali woman from north-west Queensland. She is an experienced community development practitioner and has acquired and demonstrated, over a thirty-year work period, a strong social justice ethos to facilitate building, affirming and validating personal and community empowerment.

Sandi has had the opportunity to work within diverse community settings, with different employer organisations across various industries within Queensland. Her contribution to supporting and enhancing Aboriginal health and, in particular, primary health care training extends back to 1994-95 when she was employed as the Administrator to establish the first community controlled health training organisation in Queensland. She was instrumental in establishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Health Education and Training, ATSICHET. During 1995-2006, as the Training Coordinator for a new regional Indigenous health organisation, Apunipima Cape York Health Council, she facilitated the development and implementation of a range of health training initiatives for Indigenous people within the region. Sandi has contributed to the sector through building the foundational capacities of local community Health Action Groups in Cape York, reviewed substance misuse and sexual assault programs, including domestic and family violence programs across different regions of Queensland and, more recently, she has worked to support the professional development of 90 social and emotional wellbeing workers in Far North Queensland.

Sandi is enjoying balancing her life so that she can work towards becoming a fitter, healthier murri woman whilst at the same time contribute to supporting individuals and communities reach their aspirations and wellbeing goals.