Six strong, proud and purposeful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from NSW will head to Canberra later this month to share their stories and sit down with women from all sides of politics at Oxfam Australia’s Straight Talk National Summit.
Held from Sunday 26 November to Thursday 29 November, the 2018 summit will see more than 70 women from around the country visit 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.
Maddy Richey, a young Gomeroi woman who lives in Grafton and is studying to be a nurse, said she was doing Straight Talk to connect with other like-minded women in the health and policy space, and had been inspired to take part after being encouraged by a past participant.
“It all comes down to a strength-based approach for Aborginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Ms Richey said. “We’re always hearing about bad health stats and negative things in the media.
“But we have all of this strength, let’s build a system that supports this.”
Ms Richey said the issue of racism in education and health systems was one she hoped to tackle, including by advocating for training culturally-competent graduates in the nursing field.
“Really it’s about being a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in health policy, and for advocating for cultural safety in health care systems,” she said.