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NAIDOC Week shines a light on contribution of Indigenous women

Panellists share tears, laughter as they reflect on their role models, personal journeys

The immense contribution of Indigenous women to Australia’s culture, campus, and history was in the spotlight during this week’s annual NAIDOC Week celebrations, held at the University of Wollongong on Monday 9 July.

The national event this year focuses on the theme Because Of Her, We Can!, which recognises the significant role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played, and continue to play, across all levels of society.

On Monday, a panel of academics and professional staff from UOW explored the theme and shared their experiences in a fascinating and far-reaching panel discussion, which illustrated the contributions Indigenous women make to the community, to families, and to the nation as a whole.

The panellists each revealed their personal journeys with the audience, and told of the women who have had an impact on their own lives.

It was an emotional discussion, with the panellists sharing the at times traumatic experiences of their own lives, the role models who have inspired them, and what needs to be done to ensure a positive future for Indigenous men and women.

NAIDOC Week July 2018 Collage

Among the panellists were Ms Vanessa Cavanagh, a proud Bundajalung and Wonnarua woman who is undertaking her PhD, which focuses on Aboriginal women’s engagement in the management of Country using cultural burning practices.

Ms Nyssa Murray, a proud Dunghutti woman, who is part of a research project looking at higher education in early childhood, while also studying her PhD in increasing Aboriginal employment outcomes.

Ms Marlene Longbottom, from the Yuin Nation on the NSW South Coast, an internationally renowned researcher who aims to ensure Aboriginal communities are active participants in research, not passive objects of study.

Marlene is undertaking a PhD with her research seeking to understand Aboriginal women’s experiences of interpersonal violence and the support mechanisms in place in the Shoalhaven.

The panel also featured UOW Management Cadet Samantha Peace, Mindal Rolet from Woolyugah Indigenous Centre at UOW, and Dr Anthony McKnight, a researcher from the School of Education.

NAIDOC Week runs from 8 July to 15 July.