Indigenous Law Bulletin
The Indigenous Law Bulletin asked a number of Indigenous women to give their thoughts on the question:
What leadership role should Indigenous women play in advocating for change and how do you give a voice to the needs and concerns of a nation’s minority?
Here we reproduce their responses.
We each need to make our lion's roar - to persevere with unshakeable courage when faced with all manner of doubts and sorrows and fears - to declare our right to liberation. We need to be the freedom we speak of: to be uncolonised, to love, to laughter, to happiness, to joy, to peace, to hope, to fulfillment, to be a caring parent, to be a great lover, to be ourselves: There is an honouring in freedom. I try to find ways to be free every single day.
Kerry Arabena, Torres Strait Islander woman, and Visiting Research Fellow, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Indigenous women play a pivotal role in Indigenous culture and are therefore fundamental in advocating for change. As women we must stand united to openly accept and discuss the reality of what is occurring in our communities to empower our young ones to speak out about issues they are facing.
Samantha Joseph, A/Senior Policy Officer, NSW Aboriginal Justice Advisory Council
Cape York women need to reconcile traditional and modern values in order to escape the psychological, spiritual and physical binds that drags us through the maze of political obscurity.
Rachelle McIvor, Hope Vale, Queensland
Indigenous women have always played an essential role in the leadership of their communities and as sovereign people of this nation, it is only right that they continue to do so. Often it is the voices of Indigenous women that have been forced into silence during the oppression of Indigenous people. Nowhere is this more oblivious then during this current time when Indigenous women who know and understand the dynamics of what is happening in our families and communities are overridden by those who support our oppression. Indigenous women are the keepers of knowledge within families and communities and it is our knowledge that speaks to the solutions that plague us today as people who continue to struggle against colonisation and oppression.
Associate Professor Sue Green, Director, Nura Gili Indigenous Programs, University of New South Wales
For all the successful Aboriginal men in leadership roles there are strong Aboriginal women behind them. At the moment our Elders groups and community groups have male figures as leaders but behind them there are all strong women running organisations. It is really heartening to now see strong women in political leadership positions like Anna Bligh, Julia Gillard and Julie Bishop. Women have strong intuition for people’s feelings and emotions and will call on support and welcome support in ways men don’t. Women will welcome many solutions and not just one. Our women understand the cause and effect of how something individual can affect our whole community. Our strong women should be acknowledged more.
Lucy Davis-Banu, Coordinator, Indigenous Employment, Beenleigh/Eagleby area, Queensland Department of Employment and Industrial Relations and member, Board of Directors, Beenleigh Aboriginal Housing.