Public Sector Perspectives podcast: International Women’s Day Gala Dinner 2023 First Nations speakers answer audience questions

26 May 2023

The latest episode of the Public Sector Perspectives podcast series features a very special conversation between Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, Chair Eleanor Bourke AM and host Angela Singh who explore the audience questions following from IPAA Victoria’s International Women’s Day Gala Dinner on 8 March 2023.

Following the reflective and powerful International Women’s Day Gala Dinner on 8 March 2023, IPAA Victoria recorded a very special conversation between Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, elected Co-Chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and Chair Eleanor Bourke AM, Chair of the Yoorrook Justice Commission. Together, they responded to the unanswered questions the audience had on the night and explore themes of treaty, truth-telling and self-determination.

In front of an audience of 1,300 guests, IPAA Victoria’s International Women’s Day Gala Dinner was a unique opportunity for public sector leaders and professionals to listen to exceptional First Nations women who have challenged and triumphed against prevailing societal and political structures to pave a path ahead for future generations.

IPAA Victoria would sincerely like to thank Aunty Geraldine Atkinson and Chair Eleanor Bourke AM for generously giving their time to share personal stories, thoughtful reflections and advice. IPAA Victoria would also like to thank podcast host Angela Singh, IPAA Victoria Board Member and Chair of the Aboriginal Advisory Committee and Regional Director – North Western Victoria Region, Schools and Regional Service, Department of Education.

As hard as it is sometimes to hear some of the stories about the trauma that started generations back, it’s still important that those things go on the public record so that the rest of Victoria ... and other Victorians can learn why it is that we are calling for treaties.
— Chair Eleanor Bourke AM, Chair of the Yoorrook Justice Commission
We need to really make sure that we amplify our voices as women and make sure that we let people know that we are women of strength and that we’re strong. And we’re going to continue to fight for what we want.
— Aunty Geraldine Atkinson, Elected Co-Chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria

International Women’s Day Gala Dinner audience questions

Please click any of the links below to listen to the specific response to the question.

How do you find the personal strength to stay involved in discussions and hear stories that are incredibly important but that must often also be deeply traumatic?

What does treaty mean to you and how will it change the work you do? How does Treaty and truth-telling impact you every day?

How do you advocate for inclusive cultural change?

What advice can you give to non-First Nations colleagues on how to best support First Nations colleagues?

What are some barriers you all face, as a woman, and as a First Nations person? How did you overcome them?

I am interested in the panels’ views on the Voice To Parliament and the challenge to make sure the conversation about the Voice is not divisive across the country.

As First Nations female leaders, what is one piece of leadership advice that you received that made a difference for you that you would like to share?

Who has inspired you in your leadership journey? And why?

What is the panels advice for young women, looking to make their substantive mark in public or public service life or in the community?

Content Warning

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this podcast may contain mentions of deceased persons.

Podcast speakers

Aunty Geraldine Atkinson Elected Co-Chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria

Geraldine Atkinson is a proud Bangerang/Wiradjuri woman and Co-Chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria. She was elected to the Assembly in November 2019 as a candidate from the North East Region. For over 40 years, Geraldine has been instrumental in driving government and policy reform in Aboriginal education. From starting in the field as an Aboriginal teacher’s aide in 1976, Geraldine moved forward to become the President of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI), a role she has held since 1999. In that role she represents the organisation on Koorie education matters across all education sectors: early childhood, school education, and post compulsory education and training.

Chair Eleanor Bourke AM Chair of the Yoorrook Justice Commission

Professor Eleanor Bourke AM is a Wergaia/Wamba Wamba Elder and is Chair of the Yoorrook Justice Commission. Professor Bourke has held executive positions in community, state and federal government agencies. She was a Co-Chair of Reconciliation Victoria for three years, Board Member for the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council for twelve years and a Board Member of Native Title Services Victoria. In 2005, Professor Bourke's Wergaia family was recognised in Victoria’s first positive native title determination now known as the the Wotjobaluk case. This native title included five First Peoples: Wotjobaluk Wergaia, Jardwa, Jardwajarli and Japagulk peoples. Professor Bourke has had an extensive career in academia. She was a Professor of Aboriginal and Islander Studies and Director of Aboriginal Programs at Monash University. She was also previously an Associate Professor and Director of the Aboriginal Research Institute in the University of South Australia. She was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll for Women in 2010 and the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll in 2019. Professor Bourke chaired the Working Group to the former Victorian Treaty Advancement Commission, led by Commissioner, Jill Gallagher AO, in supporting the establishment of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria. She presided over the election of the Board of the First Peoples Assembly on 1 December 11, 2019. In 2022, Professor Bourke was awarded Member of the Order of

Angela Singh (host) IPAA Victoria Board Member and Chair, Aboriginal Advisory Committee

Angela is a proud Yorta Yorta woman and the Regional Director of the North West Victorian Region at the Department of Education. Angela has a wealth of experience in Aboriginal affairs with more than 25 years working in the state and Commonwealth public sector to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Angela is currently a Board Member, member of IPAA Victoria’s Awards Advisory Committee, and Chair of IPAA Victoria’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee (AAC). The AAC plays a critical role within the organisation, advising and supporting IPAA on all aspects of IPAA’s Aboriginal engagement initiatives including its Reconciliation Action Plan and this year’s International Women’s Day Gala Dinner.

Public Sector Perspectives is a podcast produced by IPAA Victoria, the professional association for people who work in and with the public purpose sector in Victoria.