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March 2024: Commission news | President's letter

Commission – General
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO standing next to four other people at the Wiyi Yani U Thangani National Summit

Letter from the President: March 2024

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO ends term with launch

Dear friends, 

Commissioner June Oscar AO will leave enormous shoes to fill when she finishes her term as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Social Justice Commissioner early next month. 

One of the major achievements of her term – progressing gender justice for First Nations women and girls through the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project – will endure well beyond Commissioner Oscar’s departure.

Australia has not had a nationally consistent approach to responding to First Nations women, girls and gender-diverse mob, nor the national mechanisms required to strategically invest in First Nations-led initiatives to progress First Nations gender justice and equality. Without this capacity, policies designed for First Nations women and their communities will continue to fail, undermining Australia’s goal of addressing First Nations disadvantage. 

Commissioner Oscar has brought attention to this critical gap and has—together with First Nations women from around Australia—developed a way forward to creating future where women and girls’ knowledges, experience and participation are valued, their hopes and ambitions answered, and their human rights, upheld. 

In 2020, the Wiyi Yani U Thangani report was tabled in federal Parliament, following consultations with 2000 First Nations women and girls across the nation. 

In May last year, over 900 First Nations women and girls gathered at the landmark Wiyi Yani U Thangani National Summit. 

At the end of the Summit, delegates published a Communiqué that outlined their recommendations, and youth forum representatives published a Youth Statement

A large group of young First Nations women on stage, presenting a Youth Statement.
Delegates presenting the Youth Statement at the Wiyi Yani U Thangani National Summit.

Delegates called on governments to commit to developing and implementing a new National Framework for Action – now called the Change Agenda – that will provide a ‘Blakprint’ for delivering lasting change. 

This month, the Change Agenda will be released for the endorsement and implementation by community, government and other stakeholders, and a new Wiyi Yani U Thangani Institute for First Nations Gender Justice will be established at the Australian National University to drive the Agenda forward. 

We invite you to celebrate these milestones by attending the official launch event, which will be live-streamed for free on 19 March, 6.15-8.30pm (AEDT). 

Commissioner Oscar has been an exceptional leader, and her work leaves a legacy that will continue to shape the rights and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for many years to come. 

International Women's Day

Friday 8 March marks International Women’s Day, and Sex Discrimination Commissioner Anna Cody will attend the 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, as part of Australia’s official delegation. 

The primary theme for CSW68 is “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.” 

As part of the delegation, Commissioner Cody looks forward to attending a number of side and parallel events, and meeting with civil society and non-government agencies. 

Revitalising Australia's human rights framework

We’ll be making a major announcement next week in relation to our Free + Equal project, which is focused on revitalising Australia’s human rights framework through significant reforms such as the introduction of an Australian Human Rights Act. The project has been a major piece of work for the Commission over the last five years and we’re looking forward to further engaging with the project’s supporters and stakeholders in the coming months. Stay tuned! 

Wishing you a happy month ahead, 

President Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM FAAL FRSA FACLM(Hon)

Commission President Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, a woman wearing a black jacket and glasses.