A dedicated community advocate and proud Yawuru and Nimanburru woman, Divina D’Anna, has put her hand up for the State seat of Kimberley to replace outgoing member Josie Farrer.

With more than 20 years of work with peak Aboriginal organisations under her belt, Ms D’Anna was preselected last month to stand for WA Labor following the retirement of Ms Farrer.

Having spent her whole life in the Kimberley, she has built and maintained strong connections throughout the region.

Ms D’Anna’s family live across the Dampier Peninsula and Broome, while her husband’s family have connections across the West and East Kimberley from Derby to Wyndham, and Kununurra along the Gibb River Road.

Her entire professional life has been devoted to advocating and empowering Kimberley communities, with a focus on native title, self-empowerment and suicide prevention.

Ms D’Anna said working with diverse communities, government agencies and advocacy groups across the Kimberley, an area twice the size of Victoria, has “required the diplomacy and patience that comes from being the eldest of eight kids as well as the eldest grandchild on both sides”.

She believes the role Kimberley people play in their own future is critical.

“Kimberley people must have a leadership role in determining the future of our region,” she told the National Indigenous Times.

Ms D’Anna hopes to take her advocacy and knowledge to the next level by representing her community in State Parliament.

“I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again, failure to try is failure in itself, and I’m going to work my guts out to make sure we have the strong representative voice in Parliament advocating for all Kimberley people,” she said.

In 2017, the Jawun Emerging Leaders program, a program supporting the development of up-and-coming Indigenous leaders, took Ms D’Anna to Canberra.

The trip broadened her insights into how she could work regionally and nationally to influence policies and make positive changes for the Kimberley.

Ms D’Anna believes an important avenue for positive change must come through the creation of jobs and training opportunities which empower the community.

This is something she experienced firsthand during her time at business foundation and Native Title service provider KRED Enterprises and Kimberley regional body Aarnja Limited.

While advocating for her present community is Ms D’Anna’s priority, the future is her main motivator.

“I think I’m driven most by wanting my children, grandchildren and others’ children to be safe, supported and have the opportunities that they deserve,” she said.

By Hannah Cross