Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from all over the country are heading to Canberra for some Straight Talking with women Parliamentarians. Oxfam Australia’s fifth national Straight Talk summit will see 58 women of all ages, backgrounds and locations converge in Canberra from the 1st to the 4th of September 2014.
From Moa Island in the Torres Strait, to Devonport in Tasmania and west to Broome, women from all walks of life will bring their issues of concern to women from all sides of politics in an effort to develop new strategies to bring about positive changes in their communities.
Oxfam Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Program Manager Karrina Nolan said participants would discuss common issues of concern, generate strategies for bringing about change and develop new skills to engage with the political system before meeting with women parliamentarians at Parliament House.
The participants will be welcomed to Parliament House on Wednesday 3 September in an Opening Ceremony co-hosted by the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash, Labor Senator Claire Moore and Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.
Straight Talk participants also will hear from three inspiring trailblazers – actress and activist Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, Aboriginal Hostels Limited Chief Executive Officer Joy Savage, and soprano, composer and academic Deborah Cheetham.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have a powerful role to play in solving the challenges our communities face,” Ms Nolan said.
“Straight Talk gives our women the opportunity to come together to share stories and solutions and build on our capacity to shape the decisions that affect our lives and our peoples. Parliamentarians need to hear from those on the ground to make better, informed decisions.”
Ms Nolan said past Straight Talk summits had inspired women to run for parliament or local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander council elections, where, like our federal parliament, women were under-represented.
“Many not only come away from Straight Talk with a clearer understanding of how the political system works, but also with more tools and networks to really bring about the change they want to see,” she said.
Participant Elaine Peckham, 66, of Alice Springs, said she was looking forward to meeting other women from across the country to share stories and strategies.
“We go through a lot in the Northern Territory,” she said. “While we have the strength, we can’t sit back and say ‘I‟ve had enough’. We’ve got to support the young ones and be mentors for them as well. The learning never stops. Women need to have a voice and we need to keep supporting each other.”