09 July 2018


DANIEL BROWNING PRESENTER ABC AWAYE PROGRAM: This year the NAIDOC theme is Because of Her, We can and here on Awaye in the lead up to NAIDOC week we are celebrating the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women throughout history and today. We are putting the focus on them as keepers of culture and guardians of family as strong role models and highly successful people. Our guests will be talking about the women who have inspired them and led the way from La Perouse in Sydney to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Today a Labor Senator, a former ABC Journalist and television newsreader and Yanyuwa woman who has influenced quite a few people herself.

SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, SENATOR FOR THE NORTHERN TERRITORY: Hello Im Malarndirri McCarthy, Senator for the Northern Territory a Yanyuwa Garawa woman from Borroloola in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

So many incredible women, you look at the women in your life from your mothers, grandmothers and aunties and I just feel enormously blessed when I look at these women who have inspired me and continue to do so today. And even the younger generation today, I look at my nieces and they inspire me still. I would say it was probably two in particular and they are women in my family, my mother and on my paternal side my grandmother and I think that really comes down to the balance with my mother in understanding the Yanuwa and Garawa stories and history of our families and on my paternal side my grandmother teaching me about the struggles for non-Indigenous women and you know she inspired me in her journey of trying to understand about first nations people because she had a first nations granddaughter.

I think the memory because my mum passed away quite a long time ago now, the memory that does stay with me a lot is the talks we would have around the fire, you know late at night when you are sitting out bush and you just sit down and talk. There is something quite beautiful about sitting around a campfire and looking up at the stars and the Southern Cross and hearing the stories and that is a memory that is replayed many times in particular when I need to take stock and go back to that place and that space. The senses are all about smoke and the cold and the fire and the warmth and there is something quite symbolic in all of that as well. A sense of togetherness and also sharing the flame, you know, keeping the fire burning.

Interestingly enough whenever I am around a fire those images come up constantly because the fire does have a place for all of us. It is about warmth, cooking, it is also about something very spiritual keep the fires burning.

I think we knew, you use the theme Because of her, we can I think that resonates with every woman and I think it is an incredibly beautiful thing, not just in our country, not just as first nations women as women around the globe we need to support one another and stand up, step out. There are so many women in this world who dont have, still, the access to education the ability to even drive in their own country, the choice of who they wish to marry or not marry or live with. There is still an incredible struggle for all women and I love the fact that it has to be NAIDOC, the First Nations Women of this country who say lets think about women. And I do. I think about the women that are important to me and my grandmother on my paternal side she struggled, she came through the depression, she raised her children, she never worked and always lamented the fact that she couldnt and had to raise her brothers and sisters and wanted to be a nurse and couldnt but she invested so much in me and others and I am forever grateful for that love. When I was standing for politics one of the strong themes that comes through consistently is when women support women, women succeed and I think that really encapsulates and it doesnt have to be about any particular party but it is a theme that can be very general in whatever area of work women are in, or if they choose to be in a domestic situation when they are trying to achieve getting their kids to school and the support that we require to do that. When women support women, we succeed. A safe home, and environment for our children for ourselves and our families it should never be taken for granted and I think the ability for choice whether we remain in the family home or we choose to be out in the workforce or if we balance the two with part-time or casual work. All of that is wonderful because we benefit from those that went before us in the struggle for womens rights.

I want to wish each and every one of you a wonderful NAIDOC week.

Stay strong, love your families and look out for each

Baju Baja

BROWNING: Northern Territory Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy for our NAIDOC series, Because of Her.


Follow this link to listen to the interview