The Federal Government has announced $2.8 million funding for the Australian Human Rights Commission’s landmark Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project that will see it through to a national summit for First Nations women and girls, the first of its kind in Australia.
Women on Boards member and CEO of Indigenous Business Australia, Kirsty Moore, said the Wiyi Yani U Thangani report is an important initiative for Australia to ensure women’s voices are heard.
“Indigenous women are a powerful force in the growth of the Indigenous owned private sector, making important contributions as entrepreneurs, employees and leaders. These contributions underpin the wellbeing of families and communities and they also promote broader economic growth,” said Kirsty.
“We know that company boards benefit from having a diverse set of viewpoints and perspectives – and that includes Indigenous voices, particularly female First Nations people as the matriarchs of our communities.”
Indigenous Businss Australia's staff program ‘Elevate develops Indigenous talent into board members and IBA also has a network called ‘Strong Women Strong Business’ where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in business gather and learn from each other in a safe, supportive space.
The announcement came after Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt and Minister for Women Marise Payne spoke on Wednesday 24 October at the launch of Yajilarra nhingi, mindija warrma (from dreams, let's make it reality) a new animated film which tells the story of First Nations women’s voices.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO welcomed the funding, saying it would lead to powerful changes for First Nations women and girls.
“It’s fantastic the government has responded to our calls to fund this incredible project, which will see the development of a national summit and action framework to enable First Nations women and girl-led solutions and initiatives. I know we can work collaboratively to ensure First Nations women and girls finally enjoy true equality in this country,” Commissioner Oscar said.
The animation launch also featured a panel discussion with leading First Nations women advocates including Commissioner Oscar, Professor Marcia Langton AO, Fiona Cornforth, Teela Reid and Charlee-Sue Frail.
They all stressed the urgent need for this additional funding as part of a package of sweeping changes to embed gender equity across the country, which would also include gender equality in First Nations appointments and free universal childcare.
“There should be no excuses anymore for appointments made to boards or any governing body without considering gender equity,” said Professor Marcia Langton AO.
“All of our boards or governing bodies should have an equal number of men and women.
“Our voices have been largely ignored, but the issues of violence, incarceration and the removal of children necessitate urgent action.
“I’ve spent half my life waiting for change on these issues – I don’t want to wait anymore.”
‘Blueprint for change’
The Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) report, which was based on the most extensive engagements with First Nations women as a collective since 1986, provides hundreds of women and girl-led initiatives and ideas for enhancing health and wellbeing that can simultaneously overcome entrenched discrimination, racism, and sexism that First Nations women and girls face.
“The Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) report is a blueprint for change to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women across the country,” said Commissioner Oscar.
“For too long, our women and girls have been silenced, ignored, and kept out of policy decisions – our report flips this notion, centering the voices and giving First Nations women and girls agency in their lives.”
- The Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) report can be accessed from the Commission’s website here, and the animation, Yajilarra nhingi, mindija warrma (from dreams, let's make it reality) can be viewed here.