Picture: Jillian Mundy/Oxfam AUS

It’s time for some Straight Talk to empower First Nations women

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from across the country are encouraged to put their hands up to participate in a week-long summit aimed at building political skills to make positive changes in local communities.

The national summit, which is part of Oxfam’s Straight Talk program, will run in Canberra from October 17-22 and, over the past 10 years, the program has empowered more than 850 First Nations women, by helping to build their capacity as change-makers through our political system.

“The success of the program lies in its ability to effectively advocate for the participation of First Nations women in politics, and this is demonstrated in how well-respected the program is among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and political networks around the country,” Straight Talk coordinator Worrin Williams said.

“Our previous participants include the first female Mayor of the Torres Shire Council, Vonda Malone, local WA councillors Rae Cottom and Brooke O’Donnell, as well as trailblazers such as Karen Diver, Member for Cook Cynthia Lui, and former Senator and Olympian Nova Peris.”

City of Kalamunda Councillor, Palyku woman Brooke O’Donnell said the program was important for First Nations women from across the country to have a voice.

“It’s really important because, in particular, from I guess a lot of our mob’s communities, the women are as much the spokespeople and the strong networks and links to that community and quite often, we – from a Western society – always think about the role as a caregiver and the person that is often behind the scenes and is often seen, and not heard,” she said.

“I think for me, recognising that Aboriginal women really need to be standing up and taking that role and celebrating the achievements that we have made and actually being able to bring each other up, rather than being behind the scenes,

“I think it’s important to take those opportunities when you’re offered them. I’ve always been a big believer of that because whenever I’m offered an opportunity, I can’t say no, I have to say yes, because who knows what will come from that. The opportunities are endless.”

Applications are open until Saturday 17 July. Head here for more information and to apply. Applicants do not need previous political experience or an understanding of Parliament.