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‘We have the determination: First Nations women gather at national summit for gender justice

by News Desk

Over 800 First Nations women from across Australia are taking part in the three-day Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) National Summit, which begins today in Canberra. 

One of Australia’s most significant gatherings of First Nations women, the summit aims to improve the nation’s approach for advancing the rights, health, safety, wellbeing and prosperity of First Nations women and girls. 

The gathering will do this by allowing First Nations women to speak on their own terms about these issues to government, policymakers and service providers.

The Summit is the culmination of a five-year systemic change project led by the Commission’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO.

“First Nations women know what is needed to nurture and protect our families and communities. We have the knowledge, we have the skills, we have the networks and, most importantly, we have the determination,” said Oscar. 

“We are ready, and have always been ready to transform our cultural power, knowledges and lived experiences into effective policy and program outcomes. This is what the Summit and Wiyi Yani U Thangani as a national initiative is all about.”

In Wiyi Yani Thangani First Nation’s Women’s Safety Policy Forum Outcomes Report, released in November 2022, data revealed that First Nations women are estimated to experience sexual violence at a rate three times greater than non-Indigenous women and even higher rates of family violence. 

Indigenous women are also 32 times as likely to be hospitalised due to family violence as non-Indigenous women, and are 11 times more likely to die from assault. 

Caring responsibilities often fall onto First Nations women as well, with 61 per cent of these women providing support for someone living outside of their household, and the same percentage living with dependent children. 

Delivered by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Wiyi Yani U Thangani National Summit will help to reshape policies and programs that impact entire First Nations’s families and communities through supporting women. 

“When we centre our women, entire communities benefit,” says a video released by the Commission, explaining the expansive positive impacts garnered from elevating First Nations’ women’s voices. 

“Together, we can overcome discrimination and achieve equality. To build a fairer, stronger and more inclusive nation. It is time for First Nations’ gender justice and equality.”

“Australia, come on this journey with us.”

At the National Convention Centre Canberra on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country from 9 – 11 May 2023, over 70 speakers and presenters will guide delegates through a diverse range of topics such as societal healing and intergenerational wellbeing, economic justice and empowerment and the impact the proposed Voice to Parliament will have for advancing the aspirations of First Nations women and girls. 

Many of Australia’s most high-profile First Nations women will be at the event, including Federal Indigenous Australians’ Minister Linda Burney, academics/activists Professor Marcia Langton, Prof. Hannah McGlade and Prof. Jackie Huggins and former Senator and Olympian Nova Peris.

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