General News

16 May, 2023

Indigenous plan their way ahead

Yarrabah women seek hope for their future

By Nick Dalton

Sallyanne Atkinson and Cheryl Buchanan at Yarrabah.
Sallyanne Atkinson and Cheryl Buchanan at Yarrabah.

MORE than 150 women have gathered at Yarrabah seeking hope for their future and especially their young Indigenous people. 

The women convened for their annual Women’s Gathering, a time to reflect, grow and empower at the same time as Queensland Parliament debated the Path to Treaty Bill in Cairns. 

Guest speakers were cochairwomen of Interim Truth and Treaty Body, Cheryl Buchanan and Sallyanne Atkinson. 

“This is a time when we need hope,” Ms Buchanan said. 

“We can make a difference and make a change, and we all have a very important part to play. 

“We have a chance today to make a change, strengthening our culture, maintaining our law, and building our young people’s understanding of culture and strengthening their appreciation of culture and laws. 

“It’s about making sure our young people have those values and principles, because they are the future.” 

The Yarrabah Women’s Gathering is an annual ‘conference’ for the community’s women, coordinated and run by Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation. 

With Indigenous affairs featuring prominently at both state and national level, having both co-chairwomen for the Path to Treaty in community proved popular with the Yarrabah women.

Sister Muriel Stanley was originally from Yarrabah.
Sister Muriel Stanley was originally from Yarrabah.

“It’s been long overdue and we are all feeling positive and excited by what the future holds for all Indigenous Australians,” said corporation chief executive officer Suzanne Andrews. 

“The message of hope today really empowers and encourages our women,” she said. 

“We need to accept and own our history and move forward in a true spirit of reconciliation, and we are thrilled to have both Sallyanne Atkinson and Cheryl Buchannan here in community with our women’s gathering. 

“Today is also about bringing our women together, to reflect upon what we are all experiencing, the highs and the lows and working as a community to support each other and build the strength and resilience within our community.” 

The gathering also paid tribute to nursing sister Muriel Stanley, a pioneering role model to all Indigenous women throughout Australia. 

In 1942 Sister Muriel completed her studies to become one of Australia’s first Indigenous nurses. 

A Yarrabah local, Sister Muriel captured the hearts of women through Australia as well as the UK through her studies and health practices. She died in 1979.


Most Popular