The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has announced the appointment of Dr. Heron Loban to its independent board. She will commence her role on Jan. 1.
Loban, a descendant of the Mabuyag and Boigu peoples, serves as in-house counsel at Queensland South Native Title Services and holds a directorship at Mura Lagh, a First Nations-owned consulting firm. With a varied background encompassing academia, law, and corporate governance, she brings a wealth of experience to the board.
Her resume includes roles as the director of First Nations Strategy at Queensland Performing Arts Centre; senior lecturer positions at Griffith University and James Cook University; and various legal positions, such as principal legal officer at Gur A Baradharaw (GBK) Torres Strait Sea and Land Council, CEO of the Torres Strait and NPA Legal Service, and solicitor roles with the Torres Strait Regional Authority and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.
Throughout her professional journey, Loban has demonstrated a commitment to issues of justice and fairness, recognising the pivotal role played by ombudsman schemes in achieving equitable resolutions to financial disputes, AFCA said.
AFCA Board Chair Professor John Pollaers OAM underscored Loban's appointment, emphasising her skills and consumer-oriented background as a director.
“As a highly regarded Indigenous lawyer who is dedicated to consumer advocacy work, she will make a strong contribution,” he said. “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.”
The AFCA board, composed of an independent chair and an equal number of directors with consumer and industry expertise, navigates the intricacies of the multifaceted industries within AFCA's purview.
“The board is excited to be welcoming Heron as a leader, a First Nations woman, a lawyer, a consumer advocate, and an academic. Her involvement with multiple community and industry groups gives her a unique perspective,” Pollaers said.
Loban's affiliations extend to 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 held roles as 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 participant in the Telstra Chief Executive Officer Consumer Roundtable.
Loban will step into the position previously held by Carmel Franklin, who joined the inaugural AFCA board in 2018 after serving as a consumer director on the board of one of its predecessor schemes, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).
“We thank Carmel for her dedication and outstanding contribution over nearly nine years with AFCA and FOS,” Pollaers said. “She has been a stalwart on the board, providing invaluable consumer insights and expertise.”
Last month, AFCA appointed Raylene Bellottie and Yien Hong as its new board members.