Date: 
Friday 1 December 2017

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO has officially launched the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project. 

The project is being led by the Australian Human Rights Commission in partnership with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. It will include a series of community visits and conversations with Indigenous women and girls around the country from early next year.

The Wiyi Yani U Thangani project will build on the legacy of the Women’s Business report of 1986, which was the first and last time national consultations were held with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Commissioner Oscar paid tribute to women involved in that process and said the Wiyi Yani U Thangani project will continue their work.

“It is remarkable to me, that this report represents the first time that the views of Indigenous women were sought by government. Three decades later, Wiyi Yani U Thangani is a continuation of that journey.

"It is clear to me that much more needs to be done to elevate the needs and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls in the national policy landscape.

“From our remote communities to our urban centres, I hope to highlight the diversity that exists among us, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls.

“There are significant opportunities to grasp here, to ensure that our needs and aspirations and our voices are at the forefront of the government’s agenda – beyond the narrow frame of victimhood and dysfunction.

“The experiences of our women everywhere, but particularly in the justice space, and in the stories of people like the late Ms Dhu and Rosie Fulton and of our girls in care and juvenile detention are crying out for greater visibility, for greater coordinated effort and greater weight within the halls, laws and policy of government.

“This process will not be easy. As women, we know this statement to be true in life. This process will not shy away from the hard truths, but equally it will seek to highlight the enormous strength that exists amongst us,” Commissioner Oscar said.

Wiyi Yani U Thangani means Women’s Voices in Commissioner Oscar’s Bunuba language.

“Together we will raise our voices as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls and together, we will deliver a message to government that demands to be heard,” Commissioner Oscar said.

Speaking at the launch, the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion acknowledged the critical role women girls play in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and said he looks forward to the report.

To find more information about the project vist https://wiyiyaniuthangani.humanrights.gov.au/

Photo: Commissioner June Oscar and dancers from the Redfern Dance Company

Video by project ambassador Magnolia Maymuru