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Issue 4 - May 4, 2010 enews home

Oxfam forum spreads inspiration to NT

Natalie Ellis (centre) and Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin (right) with a small group from Oxfam Australia’s Straight Talk 2010 forum in Canberra. Photo courtesy Lara McKinley, Oxfam Australia

Natalie Ellis (centre) and Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin (right) with a small group from Oxfam Australia’s Straight Talk 2010 forum in Canberra. Photo courtesy Lara McKinley, Oxfam Australia

By Jason McIntosh

For Natalie Ellis, standing next to a woman who heads Indigenous matters in Australia is an inspiring experience.

The Katherine-based Charles Darwin University Indigenous Academic Support Lecturer joined 50 other delegates at a conference in Canberra recently where she had the opportunity to speak with the Federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin.

Ms Ellis took part in Straight Talk 2010, a forum organised by Oxfam Australia and designed to help Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people to gain a better understanding of the Australian political system.

Oxfam Australia is part of a movement that fights poverty and injustice globally.

The four-day conference saw Ms Ellis take part in a mock Senate inquiry, attend workshops, visit Parliament House and discuss the broad social and political issues behind Indigenous challenges in Australia.

As part of the conference, participants were allocated a minister and Ms Ellis and a small group spent time with Minister Macklin and her adviser, Rita Markwell.

Ms Ellis said both were attentive and gave her valuable advice about presenting her issues.

"Our group spoke to both of them about many issues," she said.

Ms Ellis said she was also struck by the experiences shared by the participants.

"The experiences of women who attended and the stories they told were very confronting and it helped to know the NT's problems are virtually mirrored across Australia."

She said the forum gave her tools and the confidence to be involved in future strategy planning for issues she felt passionate about.