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Centring First Nations women and girls

As one of the world's oldest continuing living cultures, the strength and leadership of First Nations women in Australia is undeniable. Rooted in connection to culture, land, water and community, First Nations women have faced adversity with resilience, and have driven hard-fought victories. First Nations women are not a homogenous group – across First Nations communities, there are a multitude of nations, each with unique languages, cultural connections and deep connections to lands, skies and waterways.Note 9

Despite struggle and determination, the experiences and voices of First Nations women and girls have been excluded from historical efforts to advance gender equality. For First Nations women, gender inequality intersects with the impact of racism and ongoing injustice. The prejudice and systemic disadvantage that First Nations women face stem from the specific combination of gendered and racist assumptions. This is reflected in First Nations women experiencing alarming rates of violence, having unequal access to safe and culturally appropriate health care and education, being over-represented in the justice system and their children being over-represented in child protection and out-of-home-care, and facing socio-economic disparities.

The Government is committed to listening to and working with First Nations women to achieve change. This Strategy builds on the Australian Government's investment in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner's work to develop Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women's Voices). This work aims to elevate First Nations women and girls' voices, leadership, determination and human rights in recognition of the intergenerational exclusion of their voices and experiences across the policy landscape. It is underpinned by the principles outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of self-determination, participation in decision-making, respect for and protection of culture, and equality and non-discrimination. It builds on the first ever national consultation with First Nations women commissioned by the then Office for the Status of Women in 1986. The Women's BusinessNote 10 report led to the recognition by Government that specific investment was needed to address the systemic disadvantage experienced by First Nations women.

First Nations women are leading a significant body of work to address their unique experiences in relation to racism and gender inequality. This includes through the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women's Voices): Securing Our Rights, Securing Our Future Report and its Implementation Framework and Change Agenda, and the dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan 2023–2025 under the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022–2032. The Government has also committed to developing a standalone First Nations national plan to end violence against women and children, and established a First Nations National Plan Steering Committee. This Strategy integrates and complements these existing efforts across each of its priority areas and seeks to be a Strategy that responds to the needs of First Nations women and girls, while working alongside actions and frameworks for First Nations gender justice.

Gender equality in Australia cannot be achieved without reconciliation and equality for First Nations women and girls.