First Nations women from across Australia are preparing to gather in Canberra for a summit in May that is being touted as the most significant of its kind ever to be held in the capital.
Registrations have opened this week for the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) National Summit, with applications being encouraged for willing participants to have their attendance sponsored to ensure a broad range of women can join the event.
The summit will bring together Indigenous women for three days of policy discussion to inform new approaches for advancing First Nations women and girls’ rights, health, safety, wellbeing and economic opportunities.
Delivered by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the summit will be held at the National Convention Centre on Ngunnawal and Ngambri country between 9 and 11 May, with a youth forum preceding the summit on 8 May.
Wiyi Yani U Thangani means ‘women’s voices’ in the Bunuba language from Western Australia’s Kimberley region.
A statement issued by the AHRC this week said the national summit was designed for First Nations women to speak to the Federal Government, policymakers and service providers on their own terms.
They will be seeking to address issues affecting First Nations women and children.
“With over 650 delegates expected to attend from across the continent, the summit will showcase innovative approaches and initiatives led by First Nations women and will feature three days of engaging discussion, workshops and presentations across a variety of topics,” the statement said.
“Key thematic areas include self-determination, societal healing, intergenerational wellbeing, economic justice and empowerment.”
There will also be a range of networking events and activities.
Several sponsored delegates will be supported with registration and travel to attend the event.
“The purpose of sponsoring delegates is to ensure a broad range of First Nations women from across regional, rural, remote and urban Australia can participate in the summit and have their voices heard,” the AHRC said.
Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar said the summit will be the culmination of years of community consultation and engagement through the commission’s ground-breaking Wiyi Yani U Thangani project.
“Coming at a pivotal time as Australia lays a pathway for Voice, Treaty and Truth, this summit is the first time that First Nations women from right across Australia will come together in such large numbers to determine how we can take control of our future and deliver safety, justice and prosperity for our families and communities,” she said.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney will address the summit and said advancing the rights, health, safety and wellbeing of First Nations women and girls is vital to closing the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.
“The Wiyi Yani U Thangani project is making a substantial contribution to this aim and I’m looking forward to participating in the Summit,” Ms Burney said
Author and historian Jackie Huggins said: “First Nations women hold the key to helping our children thrive, to keeping our communities cohesive, and to constructing cultures of care, safety and wellbeing.
“The opportunity for hundreds of First Nations women to gather, connect and have their voices heard is vital to achieving effective, authentic and lasting solutions to a range of issues affecting First Nations communities.”