A strong, proud and purposeful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman from Tasmania will head to Canberra to share her stories and sit down with women from all sides of politics at Oxfam Australia’s Straight Talk National Summit later this month.
Held from Sunday 26 November to Thursday 29 November, the 2018 summit will see more than 70 women from around the country head to Canberra to learn about the political process and build on their skills to creative positive change in their communities.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Helen Szoke said the annual summit was always more than the sum of its parts for its many attendees, facilitators, guest speakers and trailblazers.
“This November, dozens of incredible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from across the country will again gather in our nation’s capital,” Dr Szoke said.
“Not only will they get to sit down with Parliamentarians, establish ongoing relationships and develop more tools to engage with the political system, chances are the women will walk away with something far more powerful – a greater voice in the decisions that affect their lives.”
The women will attend the summit’s official opening ceremony at Parliament House, to be co-hosted by Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, Labor Senator and Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and Greens Senator and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spokeswoman Rachel Siewart.
They will also take part in small group meetings with politicians at Parliament House, attend Question Time, take part in a Senate role play and have the chance to hear from MP Linda Burney, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy, Senator Patrick Dodson and MP Ken Wyatt.
This year, participants will hear from Straight Talk trailblazers such as Karen Driver, the inaugural Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Excellence for Native American Affairs at the College of St Scholastica in Minnesota, who was an appointee of President Barack Obama as the Specialist Assistant to the President for Native American Affairs.
Sarah Wilcox, an Aboriginal woman from Lutruwita who lives in Snug, has generational ties to the North East and North-West, including Cape Barren Island, and said she was interested in Straight Talk because she was passionate about communication and meaningful community engagement.
“I applied to Straight Talk as others in the community were not available to, and I want to share what I learn with them,” Ms Wilcox said. “So I’m doing this on their behalf.”
Ms Wilcox said while she was still feeling new at finding her Aboriginal identity, her membership on the Aboriginal Hertiage Council of Tasmania had taught her about the importance of preserving culture.
“I didn’t know about my Aboriginal heritage until relatively late in life,” she said. “My grandfather was an elder, I’d never met him, but he was a well respected leader.
“It is about how we preserve and protect our cultural heritage. Our people suffered horrendous losses in Tasmania. We’ve had a lot taken from us, now we have to protect what we have left.”