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Mid West Aboriginal Women’s Conference at Gunnado Farm, Walkaway a chance to collect voices, bring change

Jessica MoroneyGeraldton Guardian
Raylene Councillor, Shirley McMahon, Annette Anderson and Marion Baumgarten.
Camera IconRaylene Councillor, Shirley McMahon, Annette Anderson and Marion Baumgarten. Credit: Jessica Moroney/Geraldton Guardian

More than 170 Aboriginal women gathered in Walkaway this week for a two-day forum aimed to collect the voices of women in the community to understand the issues affecting families in the region.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Gunnado Farm hosted the inaugural Aboriginal Women’s Conference for all Indigenous women to join the conversation and represent the needs Aboriginal people.

The Mid West Aboriginal Women’s Working Group was started in a bid to connect and better understand the needs of the community. The group aims to empower and combine the voices of Aboriginal women to drive change.

Delys Ring said formation of the group was a long time coming and the two-day forum was a way to collect individual voices of the community.

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“We want the community to tell us what they need and hold the decision-makers responsible for those to listen to our voices,” she said.

Community-based social advocate Jackie Oakley, Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner June Oscar and Senator Sue Lines gave speeches on Tuesday.

Ms Oakley said the matriarchs of the past broke down the barriers that enabled Aboriginal people to be where they were today.

“We now as elders have an obligation to leave the same legacy for the next generation that they left for us,” she said.

Ms Oakley said lack of participation and representation affected the process of change that was needed to sustain Indigenous culture.

“I hope there’s some sort of continuation of the working group arrangement and it becomes more of a formal process that facilitates the regular involvement and participation of women as a collective,” she said.

“Being here, talking, sharing, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Just the real joy you see on the women’s faces as they’re all interacting, it’s such a happy, healing environment for us. I hope it happens on a regular basis.”

The Aboriginal Women’s Working Group hopes to become a formalised group and hold fortnightly meetings in the future.

ELDERS’ DINNERREPORT PAGE 22

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