Photography by Paul Wiles
A Ngaanyatjarra and Karonie Australian woman from Western Australia, Andrea Mason OAM has built a reputation and career grounded in deep respect for the voice and collective determination of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. She is driven to shine a light on the challenges that communities face and to elevate solutions from within these places. Andrea speaks to Gman on 3KND about her role as one of seven commissioners on The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation. During her renowned career, Ms Mason has worked in Indigenous Affairs in both the public and community sector, working in a variety of roles from executive through to support. Her biggest career highlight so far has been working with the women of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) region in central Australia, as CEO of NPY Women's Council.
As CEO from 2009-2019, she saw first-hand a service, support, advocacy and influencer model designed by those living with disability, as well as supporting their family members. She saw family members and people with disability using their voice to ensure services met their needs, as well as how advocacy can be used by members to raise issues, keep systems accountable and navigate governments and institutions. Ms Mason feels strongly that the principle of truth telling, made known through the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017, can offer other Australians who are seeking to be heard a way to harness change. Bringing stories from the fringe to the centre, is one way the nation can be held to account and to inspire change.
During her life, Ms Mason has experienced discrimination, racism, affirmation action, special measures and positive discrimination. She has also experienced the ordinary rights of being an Australian Citizen. It is through these experiences that she has seen the enabling power of listening with an intent and how to see a world beyond ambivalence and inaction. Ms Mason is a visionary leader with many accolades to her name including 2016 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year, 2017 Northern Territory Australian of the Year and in the same year, Alice Springs Centralian Citizen of the Year.
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation will hold meetings in Victoria being online with representatives from a range of First Nations organisations in Victoria.
The meeting hosted by the Aboriginal Executive Council (AEC) will include representatives from:
• Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA)
• Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO)
• Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS)
• Aboriginal Housing Victoria
• Koori Youth Council
• Djirra - Culture support program
• Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association (VACSAL)
• Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI)
• Federation of Traditional Owners
• Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS)
Commissioner Andrea Mason OAM said today’s meeting will provide an opportunity to share information about the Royal Commission and to hear about the central issues for First Nations people with disability living in Victoria. ‘It is critical that we hear first-hand from people with disability about their experiences. ‘Before COVID-19 we travelled to a range of communities, including Palm Island, Cherbourg, Logan and Ipswich in Queensland and Darwin, Alice Springs and Papunya in the Northern Territory. ‘When it’s safe to do so, we’ll continue our schedule of community visits, so that we can get the information we need to make recommendations for change to prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability,’ said Commissioner Mason.
Photography by Paul Wiles