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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 31 July 2018) . . Page.. 2434 ..


During these festivities it was clear that family plays a central role for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and, within family, respect for the valued role of women is so important. These women are the mothers, the daughters, the sisters, the aunties and the elders of the Indigenous community. They may have played a vital but perhaps undervalued role in the past in terms of the way they taught and treasured Indigenous stories, songs and language, teaching their children and carrying forward the cultural heritage.

Today, more than ever, and perhaps because of the focus that NAIDOC Week now brings, society understands more and more just how vital Indigenous women are to looking after the Indigenous community. From my experience as shadow minister for Indigenous affairs, I believe it is the women within the Indigenous community that will play the strongest role in helping us to close the gap and empower future generations to reach their full potential. The influential women in the community provide excellent leadership and mentoring to future generations of leaders, showing young people the way to respect culture and each other. It is with this optimism, this hope, that I want to recognise several special local female Indigenous leaders that I have had the privilege to meet and learn from over recent years.

I believe it was very fitting that the ACT NAIDOC awards acknowledged Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services CEO Julie Tongs. Julie was awarded person of the year for her work in the Canberra region. Julie has been working in Indigenous affairs for over 30 years and has been with Winnunga for over 20. Her work and reputation in the community are very much valued. I would like to thank her for her passion and commitment to Canberra’s Indigenous community.

Because of Julie, and the many women she leads and inspires, local Indigenous Canberrans have access to quality health care that is culturally aware and targeted to their needs. Julie is also a passionate advocate for the Indigenous community on a range of issues, including child protection, the treatment of detainees at AMC, and restoring Boomanulla Oval to its original position as a culturally important site for Indigenous Canberrans. It is because of the hard work of women like Julie that Indigenous Canberrans have a place to go, a community service, even beyond health issues, that understands their needs. Julie’s passion and drive is a source of inspiration, and I sincerely appreciate all the advice and learning she has shared with me over the years.

Another special and extremely hardworking female leader of the Indigenous community is Kim Davison, the executive director of Gugan Gulwan Aboriginal Youth Service. Gugan Gulwan means “younger brother, younger sister” and that is what the service is all about—supporting local Indigenous youth and their families. They do this by providing a range of services and programs, including youth programs, drug and alcohol support, young mums programs, education support and a range of family services, including the recent announcement of the partnership with OzChild to deliver functional family therapy.

Throughout the establishment and growth of Gugan Gulwan, Kim has been at the heart of it all. Her dedication to her community is amazing. You can tell that she sees


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