Yuwallarai woman from northwest NSW and editor of the Koori Mail, Kirstie Parker has been elected as the female co-chairperson of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
Kirstie has succeeded former female co-chairperson Jody Broun, who was elected chair at the Congress’ first meeting in 2011. The Congress is an independent organisation which was established to create a national unifying voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“I have been a very strong supporter of the Congress since it began because I know the difference having a national voice can make to our people, and I think I have something to contribute to that,” Kirstie says.
Kirstie has over 25 years of experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs including as the editor of the Koori Mail for seven years, and has a long list of life achievements including being named as one of 100 Women of Influence in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac awards in 2012.
“I think that when Australia really knows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, they’ll realise that we’re to be valued. I think it’ll build respect for our people and I want to be a part of that,” Kirstie says.
“I feel like I’ve been blessed. I’ve had a really supportive family all of my life; I’ve had some really incredible opportunities; I’ve been lucky enough to fall into an occupation that I really love and enjoy which is first and foremost as a journalist, and also as a communicator.”
Kirstie is looking forward to her new role as co-chair of the Congress as it gives her a new opportunity to give back to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia.
“I’ve had the privileges of playing a pivotal role in some of our lead Indigenous community organisations. I feel as though I’ve had a lot of opportunity extended to me and I wanted to pay it back to our community,” she says.
While Kirstie has her own priorities, she also has priorities for the further development of the Congress, with a strong focus on getting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people involved.
“In terms of the Congress, I’d really like to grow the membership so that the organisation has a representative in our communities everywhere,” Kirstie says.
“I want to make sure that our structure and foundation is such that it’s easy for our people to engage with. I’d really like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to not just join the organisation but to be actively involved in it.”
Any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person aged 18 years or above can join the Congress for free either online at http://nationalcongress.com.au/membership/ or by calling (02) 8070 3100 or 1800 266 477 and requesting a membership form.