Our Founding Patrons

Dr Ken Michael AC and Julie Michael.

Kenneth Comninos "Ken" Michael AC (born 12 April 1938), a civil engineer, is an Australian academic and former public servant who was the 30th Governor of Western Australia, serving from 2006 to 2011.

Michael studied at Imperial College London and was a former Commissioner of Main Roads WA, a chairman of the East Perth Redevelopment Authority, a member of the Economic Regulation Authority, and was the Chancellor of the University of Western Australia.  Michael was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1996 and elevated as a Companion in 2006 He was named Western Australian Citizen of the Year in 2001 and received the Centenary Medal in 2003 for service to the public, engineering and the Greek Community.

His vice-regal appointment was announced on 6 June 2005 by the then Premier Geoff Gallop and he was sworn in at Government House, Perth on 18 January 2006. In 2006 Michael was named the patron of the Fremantle Football Club, following in the footsteps of Lieutenant-General Sanderson who was also patron at Fremantle. 

Our Founder


Louise Howden-Smith OAM CitWA, Founding Director

With a dream to inspire reconciliation and respect through excellence in contemporary dance, Louise Howden-Smith brings to life the stories from the heart of the nation, from the spirit of the land and from contemporary Australia using dance, music and language. 

After spending a decade as the Executive Director of WA Ballet, retirement in 2007 enabled Louise to shift her focus from European classicism to a dance platform that could promote and sustain Aboriginal culture. The result is the Ochre Contemporary Dance Company, which is the first organisation to bring together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal dancers, choreographers and arts professionals to present uniquely Australian stories. 

Louise’s determination to build a lasting, sustainable organisation has made her an inspirational role model for many others in the arts community. Louise contributes her time to many community and arts boards, and is sought for her experience in leadership and mentoring.  When asked by young people for advice, her answer is always the same: “follow your dreams”.

Louise is a recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the Performing Arts, particularly ballet. She was awarded the prestigious 2014 West Australian of the Year – Arts and Culture Award and she was a State Finalist for Senior Australian of the Year 2014.