9th World Indigenous Women and Wellness Conference
|Event:||9th World Indigenous Women and Wellness Conference|
|Destination:||Darwin, Northern Territory|
|Duration:||22-25 August 2010|
In 2010, the bi-annual World Indigenous Women and Wellness Conference came to Australia for the first time. The previous two conferences were held in Canada, and the one prior to that was held in New Zealand.
According to Ilana Eldridge, the Chief Executive Officer of the Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation, which hosted the event in Darwin, the competition to secure the event was fierce. Canada and New Zealand again were again vying to be the hosts.
“The paper we presented was eloquent and well received, and Australia was perceived as an attractive destination,” she said. “The Northern Territory was seen as home to a large percentage of Aboriginal people, the most ancient culture in the world.”
Around 500 delegates attended the 2008 conference in Calgary. Despite fears that Australia might not match this figure, Darwin turned out to be an even more popular destination.
“We were very happy with the numbers who attended and almost everyone traveled a substantial distance, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island women from all over Australia,” Ms Eldridge said.
The Darwin conference concentrated on five interconnecting themes, which each had many components. The themes focused on similar issues facing indigenous people around the world, such as health, family, traditional healing, law and justice, and education and training.
The main outcome was the production of a 10-point Call to Action. Among its many points, it called for governments around the world to recognise Indigenous peoples as the original sovereign peoples of the land. It also called for proper access to housing, water, food, employment, education, essential services and resources.
“We did some surveys at the end and the most dominant comment was that the conference was the best people had ever attended. All the themes were covered by excellent speakers,” Ms Eldridge said.
The conference was important for networking and raising the profile of the Northern Territory,” she said. “A lot of women were first time conference-goers and the world opened up for them, especially women from remote areas in Arnhem Land.”
As for the overseas delegates: “There was a lot of exposure to local Aboriginal culture that people found fascinating,” she said.
The Conference Gala Dinner was well attended but it was ‘jam packed’ with entertainment and wasn’t really an opportunity for networking. “There was a lot of networking going on in the corridors and on the fringes of the event,” she said.
The conference had some funding from the Federal Government and the Northern Territory Government - and plenty of community support.
The benefit to the local economy was estimated at around $1,102,000. Leading on from the successful Darwin event - the next conference will be held in Western Australia in 2012.
We were very happy with the numbers who attended and almost everyone travelled a substantial distance, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island women from all over Australia.
- Ilana Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer, Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation