Janina is a proud Meriam (Erub/Mer) woman, the first generation to be born on mainland Australia, from the Eastern Torres Strait Islands. Her mother, Eleanor Harding (nee Adelaide Pitt Nain) arrived in Melbourne 1959, determined to raise her children free and not subject to the Queensland Aboriginal Protection (and Restrictions of the Sale of Opium) Act 1897. Janina has over thirty years of experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, through cultural projects, employment programs, public broadcasting, event management and arts management.
Janina served two terms on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council, as well as two terms on the Torres Strait Islander Advisory Board for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and was Secretary for the Victorian Wongai Torres Strait Islander Corporation for twenty years. From 2001- 2015, Janina worked at the City of Melbourne, managing the Indigenous Arts Program, where she established, curated and produced the Indigenous Film Festival Blak Nite Cinema and the Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival. Janina established the City of Melbourne’s Indigenous Mentorship Program, opening the door for aspiring producers, directors and arts managers in partnership with Melbourne’s major cultural institutions.
Janina has been Artistic Director of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) since 2015. Prior to Janina’s arrival, audience attendance to CIAF peaked at 27,000. In Janina’s first year it climbed to 50,000 and has remained steady. With Janina’s stamp on the event, she has brought to CIAF an event that is so much more than an art fair.
Learn more about the Custodianship Program.