Gamilaroi and Dunghutti women, Marlee and Keely Silva, launched the Instagram page Tiddas 4 Tiddas just over a year ago followed by a podcast to share the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to help empower others.
Now their efforts have landed them as finalists for this year’s Young People’s Human Rights Medal at the 2019 Human Rights Awards in December. Marlee Silva told NITV News it was a nomination she was in “utter shock” over.
“I honestly hadn’t even known the Human Rights Awards were something that was coming up… but when I got a phone call saying ‘congratulations, someone’s nominated you and now you and your sister are finalists’ I could barely believe it,” the 24-year-old said.
“We don’t do what we do for a recognition but it is so humbling and reaffirming that what you’re doing is good… it’s just so special to be recognised in this way.”
Tiddas 4 Tiddas - Tidda is an Indigenous slang word for sister used mostly up and down the East coast - launched to help First Nations women “know their worth” and to bring to the wider population the stories of courage and strength that Indigenous women embody every day.
“It started as an Instagram page and was set up to help tell the stories of our women and girls and to celebrate them and champion them,” Marlee Silva told NITV News.
“It’s [popularity] exploded unexpectedly in many ways but I guess it's just reflective that there is a real hunger for more people to hear more of our stories.”
Ms Silva said that in communities we, unfortunately, see “a denial of our human rights” and that through her award she hopes to address these concerns.
“If us advocating and making the broader population aware of those things is as impacting as it seems with this finalist nomination than that’s pretty special,” she said.
“It means a lot to us because that’s what’s most important to us, that we are having an impact on our community.”
The Human Rights Awards is the pinnacle of human rights recognition in Australia which celebrates and honours the contribution and efforts of individuals and organisations.
Bruce Pascoe has also been listed as a finalist to receive the prestigious Human Rights Medal for his ongoing research into Aboriginal agriculture and his book Dark Emu that relied on diary recordings as evidence to challenge the belief that Aboriginal people were historically hunter-gathers.
The book proves that historically, Aboriginal people used irrigation systems, domesticated plants, sowing and harvesting to get by as opposed to just living off the land. These are all behaviours that go against the hunter-gatherer understanding.
The Human Rights Awards ceremony will be held on 13 December at the Fullerton Hotel Sydney.