As leaders, trailblazers and social change advocates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have fought and continue to fight for justice, equal rights and the maintenance of Aboriginal culture.
Student Cody Tooth, a proud Torres Strait Islander, opened the assembly with the Acknowledgment of Country and spoke of the true meaning of the word ‘country’.
“The term country is often misunderstood. Country for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is something very special,” said Cody.
“For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Australians, we might mean homeland or tribal or clean area - and we mean more than just a place on a map … it describes the entirety of our ancestral domains.”
Cody paid respect to the elder, past, present and future of the Awabakal people and acknowledged all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today
Official guest speaker of the day was Leah Armstrong, Director of Wollatuka Institute at Newcastle University. She holds several board positions including Directory of Supply Nation, Director of the Jobs Australia Foundation and Chairperson for the Indigenous Business Policy Advisory Group.
Leah is a Torres Strait Islander who has been working with Aboriginal communities for over 20 years to help give them economic independence.
Sharing her story, Leah spoke of the achievements of Indigenous women and the importance of equal access to education in ensuring access to a fuller economic life which ‘raises the fortunes of their families, communities and the nation’.
“We can unlock this potential through initiatives which inspire women and girls to imagine a future for themselves beyond their socio economic constraints – imagine a future as a much-loved mother, a valued employee, a successful small business owner, a respected corporate executive, an admired university chancellor, a popular Governor General and a respected Prime Minister,” said Leah.
“My hope from this NAIDOC theme is to not only to recognise the strength and resilience of Indigenous women but through highlighting their success, that young Indigenous women will believe ‘if you see it, you can be it’.”