IWD21: It’s a challenge for all Australians

In the lead up to the International Women’s Day 2021 event, I sat down with our four inspirational panellists to discuss what this year’s theme “Choose to Challenge” really means to them.

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At age 14, Waanyi/Kalkadoon woman Sandra Creamer was asked to leave her boarding school for no apparent reason.

She became a mother at 21 and CEO of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Women’s Alliance (NATSIWA) at 38. At 59 years old, she was admitted as a lawyer, her barrister son moving her admission.

When asked the biggest professional challenge she’s faced, her answer is direct and disappointing – ‘Racism.’

As a single mother of four, working part-time, studying externally and advocating worldwide for Indigenous women’s rights, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride.

But she remains firmly committed to fighting for the rights of Indigenous people and encouraging and supporting Indigenous women to follow their dreams.

For IWD21, she’s choosing to challenge the legal profession and the approach to Indigenous peoples and their rights.

“We are missing the cultural aspects of many things,” Sandra says.

“We need to recruit a lot more Indigenous lawyers and people of different cultures and experiences, so they can bring unique perspectives to the profession.’

Sandra wants to bring visibility to the importance of educating women in Indigenous communities and ensuring they’re treated equally and have access to basic human rights – like water.

“The lack of access to water for these communities is a shame to this country,” she says.

Working alongside the United Nations, Sandra says the UN Declaration for Indigenous Peoples needs to be taken seriously and followed properly, not just in tokenism.

 “We need to ensure women understand the Declaration and the principals within, so they can get help, be educated and treated equally.” 

“These tools are so important for our knowledge and for empowering and helping Indigenous women better themselves and their community.”

As for legal practitioners, Sandra believes it’s their job to pave the way for change.

“Members of the legal profession have an obligation to ensure everyone has good legal advice and are treated fairly and equally. As legal practitioners, it’s our responsibility to challenge a system that no longer reflects the values and priorities of society.” 

Join Sandra Creamer along with Ashleigh DoRozario, Zinta Harris and Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM, at our special International Women’s Day 2021 event, in partnership with the Bar Association Queensland and Women’s Lawyers Association of Queensland. Our panellists will lead open and raw conversations about their own personal and professional challenges they’ve faced and overcome. This event is now sold out, but you can purchase the recording of the evening here

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