Background to the report
The Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women's Voices) project is a multi-year initiative led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO. The aim of the project is to recognise the rights and lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls, and to elevate their voices to the spaces of decision-making. Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women's Voices) also promotes the importance of strengths-based, community-driven approaches that address the inequalities experienced by First Nations people.
Throughout 2018, the Commissioner and her team travelled to 50 locations in urban, regional and remote areas across every state and territory. They conducted 106 engagements and met with 2,294 women of all ages, including senior elders, girls from 12 to 17 years of age, women in prison and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Sistergirl and Brotherboy (LGBTQIA+SB). Over 100 submissions and 300 survey responses were also received.
Informed by the findings from engagements and submissions, the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices): Securing our Rights, Securing our Future report was prepared, and published in December 2020. The report is an extensive whole-of-life report that captures what women and girls consider to be their key strengths and concerns, what principles they think ought to be enshrined in the design of policies, programs and services, and what measure they recommend out to be taken to effectively promote the enjoyment of their human rights in the future.
HUMAN RIGHTS BASED APPROACH
Wiyi Yani U Thangani has been guided by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the following foundational principles.
First Nations women and girls have the right to:
- Self-determination: to shape their own lives, including their economic, social, cultural and political futures.
- Participation in decision-making: in matters that affect their rights and through representatives they choose.
- Respect for and protection of culture: to maintain, protect and practise their cultural traditions and cultural heritage. This includes protecting their integrity as distinct cultural peoples, their cultural values, intellectual property and Indigenous languages.
- Equality and non-discrimination: to enjoy their human rights without discrimination from individuals, governments and/or external stakeholders.
Wiyi Yani U Thangani has taken an intersectional approach that recognises that Indigenous women and girls experience their human rights, including violations of their rights, in ways that are very different to Indigenous men and boys. A specific and gendered human rights-based approach must therefore form the basis of how governments respond to this report, and how they seek to address the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls into the future.