The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, has announced the establishment of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance, that will give indigenous women a voice on violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and social and emotional problems that are affecting family relationships.
Ms Macklin made the announcement yesterday at Oxfam’s Straight Talk Summit, which saw Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of all ages and backgrounds from across the country at Parliament House, to meet with female politicians to find ways to work together to improve the lives of Indigenous peoples.
Speaking at the summit on 9 March 2010, Ms Macklin said “This alliance of Indigenous women and their organisations from across the country will enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to bring forward the concerns and issues from their communities, in their own words, with their own agendas, and their own solutions.”
“So far it includes strong women and their organisations from Adelaide to the Torres Strait, Sydney and Melbourne to the NPY lands,” said Ms Macklin.
“In coming months it will be reaching out to Indigenous women right across Australia for support, including other impressive Indigenous women leaders who made applications under this program. Over the next year we expect it will grow significantly in membership, in skills and strength. It will be made stronger with rigorous debate and diversity in its ranks.”
Oxfam Australia spokesperson Sabina Curatolo said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women were the backbone of their communities and families.
“One of the issues women at Straight Talk have consistently raised is the need to be in control of finding the solutions to problems in their communities. These women know their community best and know what their community needs,” Ms Curatolo said.
“We’re awaiting further detail, but if this alliance puts women in the driver’s seat of bringing forward their concerns, setting the agenda and forming solutions, then it will be a big step forward from where we are now.”
Ms Curatolo also welcomed the Minister’s acknowledgment that the alliance would be made stronger by diversity in its ranks.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are not one homogenous group, so the new alliance should allow their different voices to be heard,” she said.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance will be funded under the Office for Women’s National Women’s Alliances program, and established by Indigenous women, with initial support from the YWCA.
Other new alliances funded under the program are: Economic Security for Women; Equality Rights Australia; Women Everywhere Advocating Violence Elimination; National Rural Women’s Coalition and Network; and Australian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Alliance.