Straight Talk summit kicks off in Canberra

Oxfam Australia’s Straight Talk National Summit begins in Canberra today, bringing together more than 70 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from across the country to do some straight talking with women from all sides of politics.

The Straight Talk summit, from 26-29 November and now in its ninth year, has seen women travel to the nation’s capital over the weekend from every state and territory in the country.

The women will take part in workshops, hear from guest speakers and meet women parliamentarians, including Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, Labor Senator and Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and Greens Senator Rachel Siewart, who will officially welcome the women at the summit’s opening ceremony at Parliament House on Wednesday 28 November.

Participants will also sit in on Question Time, take part in a Senate role play, and be hosted by parliamentarians in small group meetings.

Oxfam Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Program National Manager Ngarra Murray said it was encouraging to see a strong contingent of women arriving in Canberra from places such as Broome in WA, where last year’s regional Straight Talk gathering was held.

“It’s inspiring to meet with all the women taking part in this year’s Straight Talk National Summit, all of whom have taken time away from their busy lives, families, work and commitments to spend some time investing in making change for our people and communities,” she said.

“Part of the ongoing success of Oxfam’s Straight Talk is its ability to effectively advocate for the participation of Indigenous women in politics, and this is demonstrated in how respected the program is among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and political networks around the country.

“Since 2009, there has been an increase in the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in politics and, through programs like Straight Talk, we hope that will continue.”

The women at this year’s summit were looking forward to meeting like-minded women, speaking to politicians and learning from guest speakers, including international women travelling to the summit to talk about Indigenous women’s participation in politics in their own countries, Ms Murray said.

“This year, as well as hearing from MP Cynthia Liu, the first Torres Strait Islander to be elected to any parliament, the participants are set to gain insights from Indigenous women from around the world who work towards women’s advancement and have contributed to making positive changes in their communities,” she said.

“Participants are looking forward to hearing from First Nations woman, Karen Diver, who was an appointee of former United States’ President Barack Obama as the Specialist Assistant to the President for Native American Affairs and is the special guest speaker at Straight Talk’s gala dinner on Thursday night.

“They will also hear from three international guests, including Oxfam in Vanuatu’s Country Director Elizabeth Faerua and program manager Jeannette Lini Bolenga – both strong advocates for women’s political empowerment in Vanuatu – as well as Oxfam in Pakistan’s Rebecca Khattak, whose program has been helping Pakistani women to become more involved in the political process.”

/Public Release.