Nyungar woman Dr Hannah McGlade has been awarded the prestigious Churchill Fellowship to research the Indigenous Sámi Parliament model.

The Churchill Fellowship is awarded to the changemakers of society, providing opportunities to gain and exchange knowledge with global leaders.

For Dr McGlade, this opportunity will mean meeting with the Sámi Parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland later next year.

The Sámi people are Indigenous Finno-Ugric peoples from the regions of Norway, Sweden and Finland.

Dr McGlade has previously called for Indigenous representation in political affairs, and this pivotal research is expected to do just that.

With regards to Australia adopting a similar mechanism, Dr McGlade said Australia is “looking at a model already” — the much-awaited Voice to Parliament.

Dr McGlade took to LinkedIn to celebrate the announcement of the research fellowship.

“Indigenous representation and political voice is a key human rights issue, as the Productivity Commission report shows, shared decision making is essential to overcoming inequality,” she wrote.

In the meantime, Dr McGlade continues to advocate for justice reform for Aboriginal peoples; recently coordinating a Human Rights Forum on Aboriginal imprisonment at Curtin Law School.

“We wanted to commemorate the significance of Human Rights Day and to focus on the particularly pressing issue of humans rights in our state [Western Australia], and that is the incarceration of Aboriginal people,” Dr McGlade said.

“There are practices happening in prisons that are abusive, inhumane, and breach our international human rights world standards — in particular solitary confinement.”

Dr McGlade said an immediate solution for Western Australia would be to re-establish the Aboriginal Justice Committee and begin work on an Aboriginal Justice Agreement.

She is also pushing for an end to mandatory detention laws, an increase in the age of criminal responsibility from ten to 14-years-old and the abolition of Justices of the Peace in sentencing prisoners for prison offences.

For community members looking to act in solidarity, Dr McGlade strongly encouraged engagement with Reconciliation Australia.

Dr McGlade is set to undertake her research of Sámi Parliaments in 2021, pending COVID-19 travel restrictions.

By Rachel Stringfellow