31 March 2023

For the first time, a national summit will bring together First Nations women from across Australia to speak directly to government and institutions about the issues affecting them and their children. UniSA Alumna Kimberley Hunter is part of the team bringing Wiyi Yani U Thangani to fruition.

Kimberley Hunter under a sign for Halls Creek
June Oscar AO and Kimberley Hunter travelling through Central Australia


Kimberley Hunter

Research and Policy Advisor, Australian Human Rights Commission
Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy)

Federal Indigenous Australians Minister Lindy Burney is looking forward to the upcoming Wiyi Yani U Thangani National Summit, stating that "advancing the rights, health, safety and wellbeing of First Nations women and girls is vital to closing the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia."

Wiyi Yani U Thangani – or “women’s voices” in the Bunuba language from Western Australia’s Kimberley region – will be held over three days in May in Canberra, on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country. Presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), it is designed for First Nations women to speak on their terms to government, policymakers and service providers about addressing issues affecting First Nations women and children.

To this end, among the estimated 650 in attendance, there will be a number of sponsored delegates who will help ensure a broad representation of First Nations women from across regional, rural, remote and urban Australia.

“The Summit is the culmination of years of community consultation and engagement through the Commission’s ground-breaking Wiyi Yani U Thangani project,” says Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar AO. “I encourage First Nations women and our allies to get involved and help shape the key outcome of the project – the Wiyi Yani U Thangani National Plan for First Nations Gender Justice.”

Kimberley Hunter
Kimberley Hunter at a community consultation in Redfern. Photograph Wayne Quilliam

UniSA Alumna Kimberley Hunter has worked as a Research and Policy Advisor at the Australian Human Rights Commission within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Unit since 2018. Much of Kimberley's work at the Commission has involved coordinating the Wiyi Yani U Thangani project, which set out to capture and respond to First Nations women and girls' strengths, aspirations and challenges. The project involved a national consultation process with more than 2000 First Nations women and girls across the country, from major cities to remote communities. The result was the release of the landmark Wiyi Yani U Thangani Report in 2020 and now the Summit.

Following the Summit, the Commissioner, Kimberley and their team have plans to establish a First Nations Gender Justice Insitute which will be based at the Australian National University, with an estimated launch date of 8 March 2024, International Women's Day.

Kimberley is a Nyikina woman from the Lower Fitzroy River in Western Australia's remote West Kimberley region. She was born and raised in Adelaide, where she studied at the University of South Australia.

“I wanted to study Occupational Therapy (OT), because I appreciated the holistic approach OT’s take when working with clients. I could see the alignment of this approach with my own notions of wellness, which is deeply informed by a First Nations perspective of health and wellbeing. My studies in OT have opened doors for me to work in spaces of Occupational Justice, something I am truly passionate about,” says Kimberley.

Making the most of any opportunity presented to her, Kimberley received study grants and achievement awards through hard work and community service. Upon completing her studies, she worked in rural health on initiatives encouraging rural and remote Aboriginal peoples to pursue healthcare careers. In 2018 became Research and Policy Advisor with AHRC.

“I come from a family of staunch First Nations leaders who have made an impactful mark on the policy landscape for First Nations peoples, including my late uncle Puggy Hunter, whose memorial scholarship supports hundreds of students every year through their health studies. My Aunty Nataile Hunter founded the Northern Australia Justice Agency and continues to lead the Close Don Dale Campaign alongside my Aunty Donna Hunter. I am lucky enough to walk the path they have carved for me, following in their footsteps and creating new tracks for the ones coming behind me”.

“Coming at a pivotal time as Australia lays a pathway for Voice, Treaty and Truth, this Summit is the first time that First Nations women from right across Australia will come together in such large numbers to determine how we can take control of our future and deliver safety, justice and prosperity for our families and communities,” says June Oscar.

“This will be a monumental gathering for First Nations women and all of Australia,” says Kimberley. The last five years working on the Wiyi Yani U Thangani project has been the greatest honour and privilege, however this hasn’t come without a deep sense responsibility to give justice to the voices of women who have given so much to the project. Australia needs to respond to the calls of the First Mothers of this country – when First Nations women are invested, all of society benefits, it is a win-win situation.”


Wiyi Yani U Thangani National Summit

The Australian Human Rights Commission will deliver the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women's Voices) National Summit at the National Convention Centre in Canberra on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country from 9 to 11 May 2023, with a Youth Forum on 8 May preceding the Summit.

Find out more about the Summit


Back to story index


Other articles you may be interested in