• June Oscar with women from the Thursday Island consultation. (Supplied: Wayne Quillam.)Source: Supplied: Wayne Quillam.
The report calls for the urgent establishment of a national action plan, an advisory body and targets for women to lead in all areas of life.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
11 Dec 2020 - 6:09 AM  UPDATED 11 Dec 2020 - 6:18 AM

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner June Oscar has heralded the launch of a new report on First Nations women and girls as a 'turning point'.

The report calls for the urgent establishment of a national action plan, an advisory body, and targets for women to lead in all areas of life.

Ms Oscar told NITV News it was important to her to make sure First Nations women and girls were heard.

"The last time women were engaged with [on this scale] was 34 years ago," she said.

"Coming into the position as the first Aboriginal woman Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner, it was important that I elevated the voices of First Nations women and girls and give them the opportunity to raise their voices on the issues that matter to them."

Ms Oscar said she heard from thousands of Indigenous women across the country in regional, remote and urban settings, which informed the basis of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women's Voices) Securing Our Rights, Securing Our Future report.

Ms Oscar said she heard during her consultations the need for systems that recognise and support their realities.

"Where women and girls draw their strength from is in their identity as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls," she said.

"Our culture and kinship systems and being on Country provide the strength and resilience for our women to continue to achieve and stride forwards for a better tomorrow."

'Seat at the table'

The report is set to be tabled in parliament next week and Ms Oscar said there is still work to be done to make sure the voices of Indigenous women and girls are heard by those in power.

"I will continue to impress upon those who are in circles of influence and power to create the space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a seat at that table to drive the change in the way that is owned by them, that will benefit them, and is designed by them," she said.

The Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt welcomed the report, saying it highlighted the role of women in our communities.

“It provides all governments a better understanding of the issues that impact the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls, and will be used to inform the government’s future policy direction to bring about improved outcomes for personal, socioeconomic and cultural wellbeing," he said.

“We know that the best outcomes are realised when Indigenous Australians are at the table – working in genuine partnership with government – with shared decision-making, shared responsibility and shared accountability."

Ms Oscar said First Nations women and girls were not alone in their struggles and challenges.

"Through the eyes of women we see everyone. We see our Elders, our ancestors, we see our families today and the future generations."

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