Oxfam Straight Talkers return to Canberra for Wiyi Yani U Thangani National Summit

Indigenous Affairs, Straight Talk, Women article written on the 08 May 2023

Ten alumni of Oxfam’s political leadership program for First Nations women, Straight Talk, are this week heading back to Canberra to attend Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) National Summit.

Selected for their wide-ranging and diverse experience as change-makers in their communities, the Straight Talk delegates are among more than 900 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from across Australia for workshops on decision-making and innovation, and celebration.

Proud Noongar and Yamatji woman Renae Isaacs-Guthbridge, who participated in the Straight Talk program last year, is looking forward to reconnecting with other alumni and First Nations women from across the country.

“I am humbled to be returning to beautiful Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country to join the deadly Straight Talk delegation. The historical Summit will provide me with an opportunity to listen and engage with First Nations women across the continent and understand work that is being done, with the vision to support and progress the needs of Aboriginal women and girls in the South West of Western Australia,” said Ms Isaacs-Guthridge.

Since its inception in 2009, the Straight Talk program has brought together more than 950 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to gain invaluable insights into political processes and build on their skills to create positive change in their communities.

“Since completing Straight Talk, I am proud be involved in the development of the Kimberley Aboriginal Women’s Council (KAWC) toolkit, which is focused on collating a suite of resources to empower First Nations women and girls across the continent,” said Ms Isaacs-Guthridge.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO notes the significant timing of the inaugural summit.

“Coming at a pivotal time as Australia lays a pathway for Voice, Treaty and Truth, this Summit is the first time that First Nations women from right across Australia will come together in such large numbers to determine how we can take control of our future and deliver safety, justice and prosperity for our families and communities,” said Ms Oscar.

Kimberley Hunter, Advisor to the Commissioner and Straight Talk alumnus, highlights the ongoing need to raise the voices of First Nations women.

“The last five years working on the Wiyi Yani U Thangani project has been the greatest honour and privilege, however this hasn’t come without a deep sense of responsibility to give justice to the voices of women who have given so much to the project. We’ve come so far, but it doesn’t end here, Australia must respond to the calls of the First Mothers of this country—and this week, we are going to make sure our voices are heard,” said Ms Hunter.

For interviews with Straight Talk delegates, contact Lucy Brown on 0478 190 099/ lucyb@oxfam.org.au