Commissioner’s Introduction to the Implementation Framework
In December 2017, I launched the multiyear Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project. The occasion was marked, and the project officially given life, through the dance of a group of First Nations girls and young women from Redfern.
The young dancers reignited our powerful matriarchal lineage within their movements, across their painted skin, and in the confidence and excitement they showed in expressing our culture. They reminded us that it is our young ones who are the next holders of our knowledges, and that when they are invested in, they can dance and sing a vibrant and healthy future into being. We all carry the visions of our ancestors and the dreams of our children. We all have a responsibility to act today and make real a healthier, more just, inclusive and equitable nation.
This group of young dancers continues to represent, for me, the purpose of Wiyi Yani U Thangani—to elevate the voices, strengths and knowledges of First Nations women and girls, knowing that we hold the solutions to drive transformative positive change.
The landmark Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices): Securing Our Rights, Securing Our Future Report (the Report), released in December 2020, documents this truth. It conclusively shows how—despite our women’s absences from the arenas of decision-making due to ongoing structural marginalisation and discrimination—they are present across all of life. Capturing over 2,000 women and girls’ voices from right across Australia, the Report brings a well overdue First Nations gender-lens to issues from housing to education and economic participation. It describes how First Nations women carry knowledge about sustaining existence, are doing the backbone work of society—caring for children, family and Country—and are at the forefront of driving economic and social change.
The Report with its blueprint for structural change comes right when it is needed. Australia and many nations are reckoning with systemic racism and sexism and the far-ranging gender inequalities that perpetuate harm against women and children. This is abuse that First Nations women and girls have been the most impacted by for centuries. There is growing recognition that First Nations women and girls hold the solutions to overcome this abuse, and advance societal health and wellbeing. Momentum is building as people add their voices and take action in pursing First Nations gender justice and equality in Australia, for the benefit of everyone.
This Implementation Framework is designed to channel the momentum that has been built. It provides guidance for translating the substantial findings of the Report into meaningful action and provides examples of innovative First Nations women and girl-led initiatives across a wide range of sectors. This includes, climate justice, developing collective leadership, establishing Birthing on Country centres, forming mission orientated financial institutions for women to save and invest in projects with social impact, and prevention approaches to end violence against women and children.
I hope this Implementation Framework will inspire, provoke thought, and encourage discussions and collaborations for thinking, working and living our lives differently. Throughout its pages, images of young dancers, reflecting the Redfern group, weave this framework together and connect all the generations of our women in collective leadership. Their images remind us that we all have a part to play in forming the future our women and girls envision today. The Wiyi Yani U Thangani project sets the tone for a new way ahead—how that way ahead is actualised is up to us all.
Background—why and how this Implementation Framework was developed
Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s voices) is a multiyear systemic change project delivered in partnership by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).
The project consists of three stages. The first stage involved national engagements with First Nations women and girls throughout 2018, resulting in the Wiyi Yani U Thangani Report.[i]
Stage Two of the project has focused on socialising the findings of the Report with communities, peak bodies, First Nations and non-Indigenous organisations, as well as the Commonwealth and state and territory governments.[ii] Several tools have been developed as a part of Stage Two to help community groups and other stakeholders to engage with the Report and project, and to effectively pursue the implementation of the Report. The third stage of the project will culminate in a national First Nations women and girls Summit. From the Summit a National Framework for Action will be developed to advance First Nations gender justice and equality in Australia.
This Implementation Framework is the major outcome of Stage Two. It is a living document to be used and refined in preparation for dialogues at the Summit, and to form the basis for the National Framework for Action. It introduces a First Nations gender-responsive systems practice approach. This is in response to the Report’s major finding that systemic change is required, as a process and as an outcome, to meet the needs and rights of First Nations women and girls.
This Implementation Framework draws on the substantial findings of the Report. It has been further developed through a series of dialogue papers, workbooks and roundtables.[iii] In particular, two thought leader roundtables were held, alongside workshops with Waminda Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation in New South Wales, Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre in Western Australia, the Kimberley Aboriginal Women’s Roundtable, a session at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) 2021 conference, and many online presentations to community groups.
The Implementation Framework has also been informed by several theoretical methods. To design the Implementation Framework, Mariana Mazzucato’s mission maps were used to help link diverse but interconnected projects that work toward large-scale social, ecological and economic goals.[iv] Other influential systems change resources used include the School of Systems Change,[v] the Systems Change Observatory (SCO) at the Skoll Centre of Social Entrepreneurship, Saïd Business School[vi] and Oxfam’s Conceptual Framework on Women’s Economic Empowerment.[vii]
Many specialist voices have also contributed to the Implementation Framework. Special thanks to Karabena Consulting[viii] in mapping out a vision for First Nations gender justice and equality. Ingrid Burkett, Co-Director of the Yunus Social Business Centre[ix] and Cathy Hunt, the Executive Director of Women of the World Australia,[x] provided support in developing networks for action. The visionary work of Danjoo Koorliny’s large-scale Aboriginal systems change project in Western Australia, looking to 2029 and beyond,[xi] has been of inspiration in pursuing a First Nations women’s-led approach to systems change. Katie Stubley from the Centre for Social Impact[xii] has provided invaluable advice for how to see systems, as well as the 101 on systems practices.
Lastly, this Implementation Framework reflects the UN Women’s multigenerational campaign: ’Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future’.[xiii] The campaign has formed action coalitions within thematic spaces to drive systemic change. This Implementation Framework is the beginning of a similar approach for First Nations women and girls in Australia—it lays the groundwork for a First Nations women’s agenda to unite multiple stakeholders to achieve gender equality.
Navigating this Implementation Framework
This Implementation Framework is set out in two parts.
The first part considers how to progress the implementation of Wiyi Yani U Thangani through a system thinking and practice approach. It is divided into the following sections:
- defining a vision for First Nations gender justice and equality;
- outlining system change practices; and
- presenting a set of ‘ways of working’.
This first part is bookended by big and necessary ideas for shifting systems. It begins with outlining a vision for First Nations gender justice and equality to see beyond current structures, and to consider what the path ahead needs to look like in order to enact change. It finishes with a series of ‘ways of working’ to guide the types of work practices required to enact change.
The second part of this framework presents a series of priorities and interconnected actions set out within four thematic areas, which have been informed by the findings and overarching recommendations of the Report. They are: women and girls’ ‘leadership for self-determination’, ‘Law, language, land and cultural rights’, ‘societal healing’ and ‘economic justice and empowerment’. Dialogue Paper One (accessed here) provides a detailed overview of these four thematic areas through which systemic change can be focused.
[i] The Australian Human Rights Commission, Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Securing Our Rights, Securing Our Future, Report (2020) <https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-social-justice/publications/wiyi-yani-u-thangani>.
[ii] Wiyi Yani U Thangani Stage Two, Implementation (Webpage, 1 December 2021) <https://wiyiyaniuthangani.humanrights.gov.au/report/implementation>.
[iii] The Australian Human Rights Commission, Pursuing Implementation of Wiyi Yani U Thangani: Dialogue Paper One, Discussion Paper (2021) <https://wiyiyaniuthangani.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/WiyiYaniUThangani-DialoguePaperOne.pdf>.
[iv] Mariana Mazzucato, Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism (Penguin Books, 2021); Miedzinski, M, Mazzucato, M and Ekins, P, A framework for mission-oriented innovation policy roadmapping for the SDGs: The case of plastic-free oceans (2019) Working Paper Series (IIPP WP 2019-03), UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose <https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/publicpurpose/wp2019-03>.
[v] School of System Change (Web page, 1 April 2021) <https://www.forumforthefuture.org/school-of-system-change>.
[vi] Skoll Centre of Social Entrepreneurship, The Systems Change Observatory (Web page, 1 April 2021) <https://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/research/centres-and-initiatives/skoll-centre-social-entrepreneurship/systems-change-observatory>.
[vii] Oxfam Policy and Practice, Oxfam’s conceptual Framework on Women’s Economic Empowerment (Web page, May 2021) <https://policy-practice.oxfam.org/resources/oxfams-conceptual-framework-on-womens-economic-empowerment-620269/>.
[viii] Karabena Consulting, About (Webpage, February 2021) <https://www.karabenaconsulting.com/team>.
[ix] Griffith University, The Yunus Centre (Web page, March 2021) <https://www.griffith.edu.au/griffith-business-school/yunus-centre>.
[x] WOW, Women of the World Festival Australia (Webpage, March 2021) <https://www.wowaustralia.com.au/>.
[xi] Danjoo Koorliny, Walking Together (Webpage, April 2021) <https://www.danjookoorliny.com/>.
[xii] Centre for Social Impact (Webpage, May 2021) <https://www.csi.edu.au/>.
[xiii] Un Women, Generation Equality, (Web page, June 2021) <https://www.unwomen.org/en/get-involved/beijing-plus-25/about>.