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Karrina

Karrina Nolan

Year of Award: 2015 Award State: Victoria Community > Social Change
Social Welfare > Indigenous
To enhance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women's leadership capacity and engagement in community and civic life - Canada, USA
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Embarking on a trip like this felt ambitious, not just because of the geographical distance, but the enormous scope of issues people were working to address and the deep ambition I have to build a better life for all of us through the critical contributions of women in our communities. Trying to distill the richness of people’s experiences and attempts to achieve justice has felt challenging. However in amongst all the hard work being done, stories shared and lessons learnt there are some clear messages for us.

Social movements are based on the premise that people power can shift the course of history. We know that building the power of peoples and communities contributes to making change not just more possible but probable. This trip was invaluable for consolidating my thinking about how we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people need to do more of that.

People I met reminded me that we need strong leaders with integrity to drive good decisions for our communities. We need to invest in and add capacity to our women who are leading and strengthening the power of our people. When peoples’ individual agency is stronger then so to is their capacity to do work at the community level.

Initiatives that connect local to national issues; implementing at a grassroots level, advocating nationally seemed to be having an impact. This was particularly obvious in relation to the fossil fuel industry and communities directly challenging certain projects. It was also clear that having a national infrastructure empowers communities to be better resourced to explore alternatives on their own terms.

Experiencing the comparatively well organised and resourced networks in the U.S and Canada highlighted the gaps in resources here. We could strengthen our national campaigning capacity, particularly in relation to climate change. Seeing the level of engagement on this issue from all parts of the Indigenous community revealed the lack of engagement by our leaders on this in Australia. Nothing short of a coherent national movement of and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will bring us climate justice.

Finally it is about being guided by our old people but with our younger ones in sight to be organised, persistent and build the more just world that is so possible.

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