Aboriginal women from across the Kimberley have shared their knowledge, inspirations and challenges at the region’s first Straight Talk event held in Broome.
The regional event, delivered jointly by Kimberley Aboriginal membership organisation Aarnja and Oxfam Australia, involved about 40 women from areas including Broome, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls Creek, Kununurra, Derby, Wyndham, Dampier Peninsula and Beagle Bay.
Former Senator, Olympic gold medallist and Straight Talk ambassador Nova Peris, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples co-chair Jackie Huggins and Kimberley MP Josie Farrer were among the respected and well-known Indigenous women who took part in the event from October 9-11.
The Straight Talk program, which has brought together more than 600 women at national and regional summits since Oxfam started the event eight years ago, helps participants gain skills to become advocates for their communities and tackle the issues that matter to them.
Straight Talk facilitator Michelle Deshong, who is also a member of Oxfam’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander board advisory committee, said the Kimberley event had been one of the biggest regional workshops and a great success.
“The women have really embraced the opportunity to have this space and to talk about some of the issues they are facing in their communities – and recognise how they can draw strength from each other,” Ms Deshong said.
Aarnja Chief Executive Officer Janine Dureau said the regional event had been a great opportunity for Aboriginal women from across the Kimberley to share their stories, struggles and aspirations.
“It has been an inspiration to observe the level of engagement and willingness from the women to learn new strategies to be effective influential change makers,” Mrs Dureau said.
Participant Bev Walley, from Kununurra, said the event had provided an interesting opportunity to come together with women from different communities in the region and learn about their backgrounds.
Other participants described the event as thought-provoking and inspirational.
“They’ve got us thinking about the challenges we face in our different age groups and what we can bring to the table,” said Broome resident Kelly Francis.
“I find it very inspirational being around other inspirational Indigenous women, just to sort of feed off their knowledge and build our knowledge and to pass it onto our next generation,” said Mieleen Chan, also of Broome.
The first regional gathering came after lobbying by Kimberley women who have participated in previous national Straight Talk summits.