In publishing this article, WSCF pays respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. WSCF would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land on which we work, the Darug people. WSCF pays respects to the elders both past, present and future.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers please note that this article may contain names of deceased persons, which may cause sadness or distress.

The 2018 NAIDOC week theme focuses on the essential role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women play as leaders and change makers – in families, communities, across industries – and the way this continues to define and inform Australian history and culture. The experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia is unique: striving against social, systemic barriers and marginalisation, surviving effects of intergenerational trauma, whilst achieving a powerful sense of identity as well as distinctive, far-reaching impacts on local and global politics, planning and culture.

As part of its NAIDOC week program, Western Sydney University highlights some of these voices and achievements, presenting brief profiles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Western Sydney women who embody this year’s theme. ‘Because of Her, We can!’ resonates powerfully and reveals some of the far-reaching influence exerted by these proud Western Sydney women. Our region is home to over sixty per cent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People living in Greater Sydney, as shown in the recently released Communities of Change report.

Featured in the Western Sydney University article, Western Sydney resident and descendant of the Yuin and Kamilaroi people Aunty Mae Robinson is recognised as an Aboriginal education consultant whose valuable work has helped to shape Aboriginal education policy. Aunty Mae Robinson is quoted as saying, “I’m not only an Aboriginal person, I’m a female Aboriginal person who has been an agent of change, because I believe we need to realise all those potentials in people.”

The innate strength shown by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, stemming from community, culture and lived experience, has frequently defied and prevailed amidst a strong social current. These women, whose endeavours and achievements are showcased this week, give insight into a tradition of strength, pride and resilience – to powerfully inform our national narrative.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have and continue to challenge systemic barriers and shatter glass ceilings; however we must ask why do these barriers and ceilings still exist? ‘Because of Her, We Can!’ Dismantle these forms of oppression for good.”

This NAIDOC Week, we propose that these stories not be confined to a single week, but that we continue to explore the work of the people who define and align with this year’s theme throughout every other week in the year. We recognise and honour all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the past and present who are paving the way for future generations and the rights of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.