Twenty-two strong, proud and purposeful Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from Western Australia will head to Canberra to share their 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 politiciansat 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.
Alarna Maher, a Yawuru, Bard and Jabirr woman and Broome resident, was inspired to apply after attending the regional Straight Talk in the Kimberley last year and speaking with a colleague who had taken part in the national summit.
“Talking to her opened my eyes to what the Straight Talk National Summit could be like,” Ms Maher said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people share learnings through stories. So this will be a chance to hear about our successes and lessons from women in other regions and then building on that, instead of starting from square one.”
For Ms Maher, who has lived and worked in the Kimberley region most of her life, the Canberra summit was a chance to network with potential peers from across the country and learn about politics.
“I think it’s about challenging myself in a context greater than what I’ve known, to test my strengths,” she said.