Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women head to Canberra for Straight Talk

Events, General, Media Releases, News, Organisation news article written on the 24 Oct 2016

Inspiring and passionate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from all walks of life and all over the country are heading to Canberra in two weeks for some Straight Talking with female politicians.

More than 80 Indigenous women – from remote islands in the Torres Strait, to far-flung communities in the Northern Territory and Broome in Western Australia – will participate in Oxfam Australia’s sixth national Straight Talk summit from 7-10 November.

Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the summit was a chance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to sit down with female parliamentarians and discuss the issues facing their communities.

“Women are the backbone of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and have a powerful role to play in bringing about change and tackling disadvantage,” Dr Szoke said.

“The women represent diverse age, education and employment backgrounds, but are united in their determination to strengthen their communities.

“The summit will allow parliamentarians from all sides of politics to hear from those on the ground and give women a chance to brainstorm strategies to address the issues challenging their communities.

“At a time when women continue to be under-represented in our Parliament, bringing them together and inspiring them to engage with the political system remains as important as ever.”

Straight Talk has engaged more than 550 Indigenous women, supporting them to establish solutions, exercise their rights and build the confidence to have a strong voice in decisions affecting their lives.

The participants will be welcomed to Parliament House on 9 November in an opening ceremony co-hosted by Foreign Affairs Minister and Liberal Party Deputy Leader Julie Bishop, Labor Senator and Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and Greens Senator and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues spokeswoman Rachel Siewert.

Straight Talk participants will hear from trailblazer MP Linda Burney, who this year became the first Aboriginal woman elected to the House of Representatives, along with Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and Vonda Malone, a previous participant and the first female mayor of the Torres Shire Council.

Participant Abigail Lui, a teacher’s aide at St Paul’s Community on Torres Strait’s Moa Island, said she wanted to learn about teaching women to live healthy lives with their families.

Ms Lui, who has raised six children and is studying for a Diploma of Early Childhood and Education, said meeting the needs of children and young people in her community was also a priority.

“Young people are the future for my community,” Ms Lui said. “How as women are we going to meet their needs?

“I also want to talk about housing, which is one of the main issues in my community, and childcare, because of the government’s closure of child care facilities in remote areas in the Torres Strait. It is something we find very hard.”

For more information or to arrange interviews with women from your city, town or region, please contact Amanda Banks on 0411 449 653 or amandab@oxfam.org.au