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Landmark Summit to elevate the voices and transform the lives of First Nations women and girls

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice
Content type: Media Release

Australia’s most significant gathering ever of First Nations women begins in Canberra today. The Summit is designed for First Nations women to speak on their own terms to government, policymakers and service providers about addressing issues affecting First Nations women and girls. Together, they will put forward the actions to reshape many of the policies and programs that impact their lives and that of their families and communities.

Over 800 First Nations women from across Australia are taking part in the three-day Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) National Summit which aims to improve Australia’s approach for advancing the rights, health, safety, wellbeing and prosperity of First Nations women and girls. Wiyi Yani U Thangani (wee YAH-knee you TUNG-gah-knee) means ‘women’s voices’ in the Bunuba language from Western Australia’s Kimberley region.

Delivered by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Summit is taking place at the National Convention Centre Canberra on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country from 9 – 11 May 2023. The Summit was preceded yesterday by a Youth Forum which was attended by over 150 young First Nations women.

 The Summit is the culmination  of a five-year systemic change project led by the Commission’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO. Leading First Nations women’s rights advocate Michelle Deshong is co-hosting the Summit.

Over 70 speakers and presenters will guide delegates through a diverse range of topics and content including: pathways to self-determination; developing and supporting community leaders; societal healing and intergenerational wellbeing: economic justice and empowerment; protecting language, land, water and cultural rights; building change-making alliances; utilising traditional knowledges and practices; and the impact the proposed Voice to Parliament will have for advancing the interests and aspirations of First Nations women and girls.

Building on previous work undertaken by the Commission and its partners under the broader Wiyi Yani U Thangani Project, the key outcome of the Summit will be the development of a landmark National Framework for Action and an Institute for First Nations Gender Justice and Equality.

The Summit includes a diverse array of speakers from across all sectors and local leaders from communities right across the nation. Many of Australia’s most high-profile First Nations women will be attending the event including: Federal Indigenous Australians’ Minister Linda Burney; academics/activists Prof. Marcia Langton, Prof. Hannah McGlade and Prof. Jackie Huggins; filmmaker and producer Rachel Perkins; former Senator and Olympian Nova Peris; and family and domestic violence advocate Antoinette Braybrook.

Commissioner Oscar: “First Nations women know what is needed to nurture and protect our families and communities. We have the knowledge, we have the skills, we have the networks and, most importantly, we have the determination. We are ready, and have always been ready to transform our cultural power, knowledges and lived experiences into effective policy and program outcomes. This is what the Summit and Wiyi Yani U Thangani as a national initiative is all about.

“I thank all participants for bringing their wisdom and their truth to this historic gathering and for working with the Commission to help create a future where First Nations women and girls are driving economic and social change and can form the structures to guarantee we have the best possible lives for us, our families and our communities.”

Media Contact: Media are invited and encouraged to cover the Summit which promises to provide many leads for compelling stories and articles. REGISTER NOW