As pillars of our society, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played – and continue to play – active and significant roles at the community, local, state and national levels.
As leaders, trailblazers, politicians, activists and social change advocates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women fought and continue to fight, for justice, equal rights, our rights to country, for law and justice, access to education, employment and to maintain and celebrate our culture, language, music and art.
They continue to influence as doctors, lawyers, teachers, electricians, chefs, nurses, architects, rangers, emergency and defence personnel, writers, volunteers, chief executive officers, actors, singers, songwriters, journalists, entrepreneurs, media personalities, board members, accountants, academics, sporting icons and Olympians, the list goes on.
They are our mothers, our elders, our grandmothers, our aunties, our sisters and our daughters.
To celebrate NAIDOC Week 2018, three inspiring women who are Indigenous Churchill Fellows share what they would like to celebrate to mark this special occasion and how their Fellowship findings are having a positive impact on our Indigenous communities!
I will be celebrating the strength and achievements of those women that have come before us – and those that will be the future – the untapped potential. Women are the backbones of our family and community. I’ve had very strong women in my family line; it’s what keeps your family together and it’s where you go for cultural advice. I am very grateful to have such strong role models and I want to thank them. My little niece is turning 4 this month and I want to be a good role model for her and to make sure she has even better opportunities than me. As an Indigenous woman, that is your role – to help and support the next generation.
I definitely encourage all Indigenous women thinking about furthering their knowledge and experience to look for opportunities to expand. Your journey and insights are so valued and needed in today’s dialogue. It’s just about refining what you what to do – and making a plan!
Donisha traveled to New Zealand, the USA and Canada on a Churchill Fellowship in 2016 to investigate chronic kidney disease programs for Aboriginal First Nations people.
I want to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s perseverance and resilience in the past so that today’s women can face the challenges of today and in the future. Our Ancestors and Elders faced disadvantages, but they did not lose hope. They were invisible to society, but we stand on their shoulders, making our people visible.
As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, we have so much to offer society with our ways of knowing, being and doing. There are projects that we can do that others cannot do because of who we are and what our ancestors have been through. We need to explore so that our youth can be inspired to go forwards. There are people to help guide us in whatever inspiration we have. We just need to ask.
Doseena traveled to Finland, the UK, Canada, USA and New Zealand on a Churchill Fellowship in 2017 to network, share, and exchange knowledge with other Elders from Indigenous Nations around the world.
As an Aboriginal woman I have been inspired by strong females in my life. Particularly my Nana and I would like to celebrate this year’s theme by telling stories about her which I have planned to do with the local Aboriginal radio station as part of an initiative they are doing for NAIDOC week.
There is always a strong female leader in every family and I am happy I took the time to listen to her stories growing up so that I can share these with my children and so on. My family now see me as their strong female and are also inspired by what I have achieved. I just hope that by being a role model, this will have a positive impact on future generations.
We need to continue on the path for reconciliation so that our future generations don’t experience the struggle that our past and present generations have, and to work and live as one. It is up to us to teach our young. The theme of NAIDOC is truly fitting as we need to reflect on our past strong women leaders and be inspired by them, so we can all move forward.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for more indigenous people to apply for a Fellowship. We need to own our learnings instead of professionals and academics learning from us. The reason I applied was that all too often non-indigenous people research topics that may benefit them when working for us. Take ownership and learn from other countries to bring back and implement these learnings where it makes a difference. Talking about your Fellowship, whether it be in your workplace or socially will allow you to reflect on your journey and what a difference you have made, big or small. It matters.
Eileen traveled to New Zealand, USA and Canada on a Churchill Fellowship in 2017 to analyse communication and cultural barriers within health services where English is a second or third language.