Six strong, proud and purposeful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who live in the Australian Capital Territory will head to Parliament House 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.
Yanti Ropeyarn, a Pearce resident and Anggamuthi, Yadhaykana, Woppaburra and Torres Strait Islander woman who grew up in Far North Cape York, said the summit had a lot to offer her.
“I have a goal to eventually go back home and involve myself in the Cape community a lot more, and I think Straight Talk will add another level,” Ms Ropeyarn said.
“I think the summit will give me tools to implement changes. I’m passionate about LGBTIQ issues and I’m hoping to form ideas on what I can do when I get back to the Cape.”
Ms Ropeyarn works at the National Library of Australia as the Indigenous Project Officer for Trove, and said she wanted to make content more accessible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“It’s important for my people to connect and reconnect with the past. It’s about taking ownership of our own stuff, not someone else doing it for us.”