Aboriginal women Landmark report 'Wiyi Yani U Thangani' released into challenges and goals of First Nations women and girls
A landmark report into the challenges and aspirations of Indigenous women and girls in Australia has recommended an urgent focus on healing from intergenerational trauma, and a national plan of action to advance wellbeing.
The Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women's Voices) report, by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO, is the first engagement project of its kind since 1986 and aims to inform policy and legislation.
In 2018, Ms Oscar and her team visited 50 locations in urban and remote areas across every state and territory and spoke to thousands of Indigenous women and girls.
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) report, launched today in Perth by Ms Oscar, made five major findings and seven recommendations.
They include the implementation of a national action plan on advancing the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls, and a national summit with the establishment of a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and Girls advisory body.
Other recommendations include national action to eradicate racism, and an urgent focus on healing from intergenerational trauma.
The report found Indigenous women report higher rates of anxiety and depression than their male counterparts, and that 32.8 per cent of First Nations people report high or very high rates of psychological distress.
The rate is 13 per cent for other Australians.
It also found discrimination and social, economic and political marginalisation has trapped generations in cycles of poverty and trauma, and it highlighted that Indigenous women are Australia's fastest-growing prison population, being 21 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous women.
"And we have a right to ensure that others understand and work with us to achieve the changes that we so desire.
"Those issues of challenge are real for me, because I live those challenges daily in my own community, in my own family.
"That is not dissimilar to other women across this country, there are common experiences, shared experiences that we understand collectively.
'We can't do this by ourselves'
For Dunghutti woman Jo-Anne Kelly, the retention of culture and formation of identity is a priority for Indigenous woman.
She said with a lot of men in her community dying young, it meant it was up to the women to maintain cultural traditions.
"The sad reality is I lost my dad when I was 13," she said.
Ms Kelly said she hoped the report would prompt more programs and services for Indigenous women and girls to reconnect to culture.
"Culture is the basis of our being if we can get programs happening, getting girls sitting around yarning in circles, learning our language, learning the traditional side," she said.
"We know we'll never get it back one hundred per cent, but we have to figure out how we can survive in a contemporary environment.
"There's a lot of support that we need … we can't do this by ourselves."
Findings and recommendations
The report found:
- First Nations women and girls have diverse strengths that support all aspects of life
- Investing in First Nations women and girls is an investment in society
- It is structural forces, not individual behaviours alone, which overwhelmingly determine our life outcomes
- First Nations women and girls want systems and services to be preventative, place-based, culturally safe, healing-oriented and trauma-informed
- We need to support First Nations women and girls' leadership and participation in all decisions that impact their lives
The report recommended:
- A National Action Plan on advancing the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls
- Conduct a National Summit and establish a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and Girls Advisory Body
- Empowering women's leadership on the ground
- Protecting, supporting and reviving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practices and knowledge systems
- An urgent focus on healing from intergenerational trauma
- National action to eradicate racism
Local and regional focused engagement