Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women change-makers called to Canberra

Indigenous Affairs, Media Releases, News article written on the 09 Jul 2018

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from throughout the country are encouraged to apply for a week-long national summit in Canberra that aims to further strengthen their dedication to creating change in their communities.

The Straight Talk national summit, from 26 to 29 November, is part of Oxfam’s Straight Talk program connecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with women in Parliament, helping them better understand the political system and develop skills to tackle the issues that matter to them.

Since the event began nine years ago, Straight Talk  has seen more than 650 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women come together at city and regional gatherings to hear from representatives on all sides of politics and, importantly, listen to each other.

Oxfam Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Program, National Manager Ngarra Murray said she hoped women applying for this year’s annual summit would take cues from some of the women highlighted as part of this year’s NAIDOC Week and its theme, Because of her, we can!

“This week, as part of National NAIDOC Week, we celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and especially those who have come before us and carved out a path that the next generation can push forward,” Ms Murray said.

“Every year at Straight Talk, we see women inspired to become powerful change-makers because of the efforts of many who came before them. Women are critical to long-lasting change, and what we see with the summit is that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are already committed to making a difference are then emboldened to go ahead and take action.”

This year participants will hear from Straight Talk trailblazers such as Karen Driver, the inaugural Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Excellence for Native American Affairs at the College of St. Scholastica in Minnesota, and who was an appointee of President Barack Obama as the Specialist Assistant to the President for Native American Affairs.

Straight Talk facilitator Michelle Deshong said the nine-year program had been extremely successful, with hundreds of women participating from all over the country.

“It is an opportunity to explore and learn about the political system but more importantly to gain tools and new knowledge to harness Indigenous women’s roles as change-makers,” Deshong said. “I’d encourage people to get their application in early as we are expecting another great event.”

Oxfam Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee Co-Chair Hayley McGuire said the summit provided for an invaluable exchange of ideas and experiences between women.

“As a young Darumbal woman, I value the strength, guidance and support given to me over the years by strong, resilient and passionate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from around this country. The Straight Talk summit provides a space for us to come together and support each other in our leadership journey.”

To apply, contact 03 9289 9444 or womensbusiness@oxfam.org.au. Applications close on August 10.

For interviews, please contact Renee Thompson on 0418 873 782 or reneet@oxfam.org.au