“We are Strong Indigenous Women of the Northern Territory. We stand united as one strong voice. We commit to a network that gives us equal power to the rights of all our women. Strong women means healthy country.”
This is the vision of the Northern Territory’s Strong Women for Healthy Country Network (SWHCN) – a collective of dedicated women caring for country across different organisations and communities in the Northern Territory.
Since 2019 the network has held Strong Women for Healthy Country Forums – the first at Bawurrbarnda in Central Arnhem Land, then at Banatjarl on Jawoyn Country in 2021, and most recently in September 2022 at Ross River on Eastern Arrernte Country. The 2022 forum saw over 200 women gather to develop a strategy to achieve their goals and to support each other to stand united as a network. Kylie Burn, Conservation Management’s Northern Territory Regional Coordinator, joined the forum and helped facilitate a number of workshops.https://www.mimal.org.au/Strong-Women-Healthy-Country.
Strategic planning, collaborating, achieving and measuring impact are all more enjoyable and effective if done collectively. There’s lots of academic literature about ‘collective process’ and ‘collective impact’, using all manner of buzzwords; but real-life and relatable examples of getting from an idea to getting things done and having an impact together are rare in the public domain. The glossy stories often diminish the effort required to get everyone working together, past the drudgery and set-backs of the actual organising, and to the first home-run. Such stories also often don’t help us understand the softer things that hold these collective processes together.
The effort required by everyone to get the 2022 forum to take shape and actually happen was huge, making the softer things that kept everyone together even more exceptional. On top of hard work, there was patience (to understand new ways, new things, new people and to help neighbours, peers and supporters understand); encouragement (to allow others to have their say and to take the lead); confidence (to speak up and to make and learn from mistakes); and acceptance (of different backgrounds, experiences, contributions, and perspectives). It was truly remarkable to witness so many people, representing such diverse communities and ranger groups, work collectively. We feel privileged and excited to be able to support this amazing network of strong women.
The Strong Women for Healthy Country Network's Forum Report is both humble and inspiring. It is essential reading for anyone wondering how to tackle big challenges, work better in partnership with others, or brush up on their leadership skills on any day of the year, but especially today. Happy International Women’s Day 2023!
The Strong Women for Healthy Country Network are generously hosted by Mimal Land Management. To donate or support, follow the link on the Strong Women web page at Mimal; follow them on Facebook for regular updates, or; get in touch with Kate van Wezel at [email protected] or 0455 241 916 to join.
Photo by Marley Morgan Photography