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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 31 July 2018) . . Page.. 2436 ..


NAIDOC week a number of community and other events highlighted the significant contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to our community, particularly the contributions of women. The beauty of NAIDOC week is that not only is it celebrated by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community but it is also an opportunity for non-Indigenous Australians and others from all walks of life to participate in a range of activities that celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and contributions.

As we look around the ACT, women feature significantly and prominently. By far and away the majority of them are Ngunnawal. They have been mentioned by Ms Cody and Mr Milligan, and I will be repeating some of the names previous speakers talked about because they are part of the community we live in ere.

Elders welcoming to country are often women—women like Aunty Agnes Shea, Aunty Violet Sheridan, Aunty Roslyn Brown, Aunty Janette Philips and the emerging leader Serena Williams. These women are sustaining and continuing traditions that originate from the world’s oldest continuous living culture. They share their stories and their culture so that we all can learn and benefit.

Of course, I must also acknowledge the contributions of Aboriginal women on the elected body, which is ably chaired by Katrina Fanning. She is assisted by three other women: Jo Chivers, Caroline Hughes and Paula McGrady. The voice of Aboriginal women is well and truly heard and represented by those four women, out of a membership of seven. Like us, there is a female majority.

All of these women are strong and they play an essential role in our community. Not only are they mothers, aunties, daughters, sisters and partners but they are leaders and role models. They are outspoken about issues such as justice, equal rights, over-incarceration and over-representation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the out of home care system, highlighting challenges that are faced on a daily basis by members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Many of them are caring for kin well over and above what we non-Aboriginals define as family. I have always thought we have much to learn from Aboriginal women in their generosity and their love for their extended family. Their roles as aunty and mother are much wider reaching than our white nuclear family ways of thinking about family relationships and obligations. It is because of this that their culture is sustained. It is because of this that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have a pivotal and very important role in their community. They are the backbone of family, and family is central to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

As we look to the winners of the ACT NAIDOC awards this year we see a significant over-representation of women as award winners. Julie Tongs from Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services was awarded the NAIDOC person of the year. Julie has achieved so much for local community. From its humble beginnings many years ago as a small Aboriginal-controlled health service, she has grown the health service into a large community organisation with expanded remit servicing not only the needs of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders but also the needs of non-Aboriginal people who access the service. This, of course, includes


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