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Tjanara Goreng Goreng is a Wakka Wakka Wulli Wuilli Traditional Custodian from Central Queensland Australia, a PhD candidate and the Founder and National Convener of the Foundation for Indigenous Recovery and Development, Australia. An Adjunct Assistant Professor for UC, Tjanara has had extensive teaching and government experience.

Tjanara spoke about gender, politics and public policy to address gender and intersectional concerns in policy for the Australian Federal Parliament and provide recommendations for the participants to include in their report. Some insights from her included:

Women in the world

  • Gender is never about sex. It varies by dimensions of life. Basic condition of life, safety health education and work, access to markets and space and people’s own free expression identified by alignment to a gender or group.
  • Individual Bodies can be typed in many ways but social practices of gender appear unproblematic in some social contexts and therefore impossible to solve. In some contexts gender dictates power, professional structures, social norms, familial hierarchies and personal relationships among many others.
  • We live in a diverse world where power resides with the male western patriarchy for the most part. There are some countries and cultures where women hold social positions of power.
  • But fear of the capacity of women and what they can do has diminished women’s role in society. Women can bear and give birth and with the advent of technology may not even need men soon to procreate and continue society
  • Roman society instituted the stereotyped norms practiced today to disadvantage women. For example women used to live with catholic priests and more often than not inherited his property when he passed. To keep this wealth, the Roman Catholic Church forbade priests to marry. Property dictates much of the power struggles of the western world
  • Prior to Napoleon, many powerful women held salons where politics was shaped in discussions of philosophy, politics and public policy in the exciting context of the revolution. This happened to a lesser extent in Britain and the US.
  • There has been a significant increase in women entering public office in recent decades which has consequences for public office and the general public. Women differ not only in those two categories but within themselves. Who they are, their backgrounds, their ethnic ambitions and objectives
  • Women like Margaret Thatcher control their power much like men so what’s the point of them breaking the glass ceiling?
  • Women in local councils are more active in gender discussions and take policy positions in a wider range of issues than men. They are more likely to take leadership issues to translate feminist policy attitudes into change and make programs or initiatives around them
  • Men exhibit a more instrumental and women a more contextual attitude to policy orientation. Women’s approaches are broader and interconnected to facilitate interactions rather than control and direct debates.
  • Women public officials do have an impact on gendered public policy or bring gender into policy discussions. Women are making a difference and as they achieve more positions of seniority and influence they influence private sector as well as the public space
  • New institutions may not fulfil the objectives of their creation because they are trapped by gendered norms which they try to dispel
  • Women need to address:
    • How are formal and non-formal rules gendered?
    • How can we institutionalise change to stop gendered inequality?

The indigenous story

  • Women are equal to men because of their responsibilities of the sacred business (Chukapah), the rearing of children and the physiological wellbeing of the whole clan. This is still practiced by the Kata Tujia people of Uluru
  • Believe that all beings are sacred and born with the same innate qualities. You are spirit before you are human and you become human to interact with others.
  • First and foremost you need to accept your spiritual self and purpose of being which imbues a sense of respect for self and respect for others and their spiritual being
  • Purpose of life is to interact with people on the basis of their spiritual being rather than physical being (features) and respect and honour Nunjanatia (the land)
  • The aboriginal law of Kanini is the harmony and unconditional love of all things
  • Aboriginal culture has an express way of managing the biological differences of men and women including laws regulating violence, crimes and misconduct.
  • Women rear all children to teach them how to be friends and co-exist. As they grow older, the men teach the boys how to have sexual relationships with girls and women teach girls how to evolve into their roles and responsibilities
  • When you go to indigenous communities now, don’t go to the men. Go to the female elders who run the community and can tell you about the spiritual chukapah and structure of leadership (sacred leaders) in order to manage conflict, think of the whole and bring about relations between people.
  • Women keep certain information (childbirth) in the realm of mystery enabling men to respect women.
  • Systems of power, race, gender and class cannot be understood independent of each other. They mutual construct each other and reinforce our attitudes to them.
  • Considerable power in class structures is residual from British colonialism and will not change if we do not address them
  • It is the responsibility of future generations to use the wealth of knowledge available and advancements in technology to create change by addressing gender and racial inequality
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Day 2 began with Barbara Bickie using HDBI to “Discover your leadership style”.  She is an educator, at Charles Sturt University, a published author, PhD candidate, specialist in juvenile justice, child protection and the President of the National Council of Women Australia.

The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) is a system to measure and describe thinking preferences in people, developed by William Herrmann while leading management education at General Electric’s Crotonville facility. It is a type of cognitive style measurement and model which looks something like this.

 whole-brain-model-2016

The activity was to pick up cards that you most identify with, these were mine.

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Read more about HDBI here.

Next we had Tjanara Goreng Goreng speak to us about gender, politics and public policy. A fascinating session that requires it’s own post which you can read here.

Our team activity output:

CaptureThe next speaker after lunch was Virginia Haussenger.  Virginia is the BroadAgenda 50/50 Chief Editor and the Director of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation. She is also an award-winning television journalist, writer and commentator, with a career spanning 25 years. Virginia facilitated a workshop on political communication, preparing us for media interviews and engaging with politicians. Insights from the session include:

  • Watch a documentary on Zelda D’Aprano who chained herself to the Commonwealth Building in Spring Street, Melbourne, to protest pay inequality, until she was cut free by the Commonwealth Police. The event drew enormous attention to the Equal Pay campaign. She tipped off the media that she would do this protest because she knew they would be interested in the drama of the situation.

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  • Australia’s first female Liberal Premier for NSW, Gladys Berejiklian was asked less than an hour into her role, if she was fit for her role as an unmarried woman with no babies – by a female reporter. In the ensuing cacaphony, she went off to the side and sat with her head in her hands till it died down.
  • The optics matter, COAG in 2011 had 4 women out of 11 and now we are back to 1/11.
  • The leadership model in Australia remains very male since they were designed by and for men. Over time we have tried to fit women into the model rather than redesign the structures and how we view leadership
  • Women in power quietly but fiercely own their own optics. Quentin Bryce wears colourful outfits, Hillary has her pantsuits and Christine Lagarde has made her dangly earrings and coloured scarf her trademark.
  • The debasement of the office of Parliament was alarmingly evident during Gillard’s tenure. Suddenly the rules changed for media across Australia
  • Progress is not inevitable and the hardest won gains remain the most vulnerable to being swept away.
  • Damned if you smile and damned if you don’t. – Me.
  • Women discussing their gender are not ‘playing the gender card’, they are discussing who they are. Facts.
  • When you have a strong sense of your purpose and values, they will allow you to deliver a consistent message. You can’t control the media, but you can control your message.
  • Leadership is more than dark suits. When women in leadership wear colour, they show diversity of leadership and in doing so affect change
  • When delivering a politcal message, focus on syntax and cadence to avoid muddying your message with extranneous words. Design your message for your audience. A great example of this is Emma Watson’s speech at the HeForShe Campaign 2014 to the UN.

And finally I want to leave you with something my mentor Sarah Elphick once said to me, ‘A woman trying to act like a man is a waste of a good woman.’

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