New ANU institute to advance First Nations gender equality

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A new institute at The Australian National University (ANU) will advance the voices of First Nations women and girls and help improve the policies and structures shaping the lives of First Nations people.

The Wiyi Yani U Thangani First Nations Gender Justice Institute will be chaired by ANU Honorary Professor and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Dr June Oscar AO.

The new institute - a first for Australia - will build on and continue the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) Project led by the Australian Human Rights Commission for the last seven years.

The project has engaged with over 2,000 women and girls and shows that First Nations women are key to holding society together, healing, reducing harms and violence, and guaranteeing cohesion and healthy environments for everyone.

The Wiyi Yani U Thangani First Nations Gender Justice Institute at ANU will work alongside First Nations women, girls, gender-diverse people, researchers, practitioners and non-Indigenous collaborators to reform systems and structures, and achieve sustained meaningful change for communities everywhere.

ANU Chancellor Julie Bishop said the University was launching the new institute because "First Nations women and girls have been underrepresented in decision-making spaces for far too long".

"In the wake of the Voice to Parliament referendum, it is urgent that we listen to First Nations women and work with them to address inequalities, and help design the path towards a better, brighter and more inclusive future," Ms Bishop said.

"Not only is the institute a dedicated space for First Nations women and girls and the gender diverse, but it is also a continuation of the longest-running First Nations women and girls project ever undertaken in Australia.

"The institute will ensure that this movement continues to grow and gain momentum, putting Australia at the forefront of developing the level of First Nations-led research, policy and practice needed to achieve First Nations gender equality.

"Our ANU community is committed to listening and elevating the expertise of First Nations women; women who have the lived experience, knowledge and ideas to drive transformative agendas and create inclusive and sustainable systems that benefit us all.

"The establishment of the institute is an important step on Australia’s journey to being a just and equitable nation."

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Dr June Oscar AO said the institute is the first of its kind in Australia.

"No other dedicated space like this exists for First Nations women and girls and gender diverse mob, where they determine the collaborations and the research approaches, on their own terms," Dr Oscar said.

"The institute is the vehicle for governments to act on the findings of the multi-year systemic change Wiyi Yani U Thangani project. It will work to overcome disadvantage in First Nations communities through developing holistic partnership processes."

"Wiyi Yani U Thangani shows that women are the backbone of our communities, with lived experiences and knowledges which are vital to resolving deeply entrenched socio-economic issues and structural discriminations for generations to come.

"Our women are the custodians of vital wisdom in sustaining life, and are the cornerstone of our communities; nurturing children, families, kin, and Country.

"I give my deepest thanks to the Hon Julie Bishop, Chancellor of ANU and Professor Genevieve Bell, Vice-Chancellor and President of ANU, for their incredible support of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani Institute for First Nations gender justice."