Meet Yawuru woman, Shannan Dodson: Communications & Digital Specialist who has worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs for over 12 years

Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru (Broome area) woman who was born in Katherine in the Northern Territory and currently lives in Sydney.

She’s worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs for over 12 years and is a Communications and Digital specialist. She was the Digital Director of the Recognise campaign for 5 years– the movement to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our Constitution and deal with the racial discrimination in it.

She is a board member of ANTaR – a national advocacy organisation dedicated specifically to the rights – and overcoming the disadvantage – of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. She is also a Community Ambassador for R U OK?. She is also a member of the National NAIDOC Committee.
Shannan is a strong advocate for human rights and passionate about promoting the importance of understanding mental health issues.

1. Where are you from?

I am a proud Yawuru (Broome area) woman who was born in Katherine in the Northern Territory and currently lives in Sydney.

2. What do you do?

I am a Communications Advisor at the Healing Foundation that partners with communities to address the ongoing trauma caused by actions like the forced removal of children from their families. We work with communities to create a place of safety, providing an environment for Stolen Generations members and their families to speak for themselves, tell their own stories and be in charge of their own healing.

3. What is one of the best decisions you have made?

The best decision I’ve made is to not worry about what other people think so much!

4. What is one of the worst decisions you have made?

I think we all make decisions we may regret, but every decision we make is a lesson or a progression. I try to look at each decision I make with the lens of how it’s brought me to where I am today and how can I use that to make positive change.

5. What are some of the barriers to female leadership?

There are so many incredible female leaders in our community that I look up to and encourage me to keep fighting the good fight. While these women continue to thrive through adversity, the barriers are due to deeply embedded gender inequity, and us women have to come together to not drag each other down but smash down those barriers.

6. This year’s NAIDOC theme is “Because of Her, We Can” – what do you think about this theme? And what women have inspired you?

I am so proud to be on the National NAIDOC Committee that chose this theme. It was a unanimous decision as so often our women are not properly acknowledged or honoured for their ongoing contribution and that they have held our communities together. As leaders, trailblazers, politicians, activists and social change advocates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have fought for justice, equal rights, our rights to country, law and justice, access to education, employment and to maintain and celebrate our culture, language, and art. My Mum is my biggest inspiration she has taught me to always stay true to myself.

7. What advice would you give to empower the next generation of women?

Know your worth and value and never let anyone undermine that. You will be constantly told in society that you don’t deserve things but stick to your guns. Work hard, stay true to yourself, always be respectful and stand up for what you believe in.

8. What do you think about this year’s theme of #PressForProgress?

We all have to come together – men and women – for gender parity. Challenge stereotypes, call out inequality and encourage the voices of women.

9. What exciting project do you have coming up?

I’ve just been invited to join Media Diversity Australia which is a nation-wide not-for-profit organisation that seeks to promote balanced representation in Australian media that reflects the community it serves. I am an Indigenous Affairs Officer working on exciting projects to get more representation of our mob in the media and pushing for media-wide protocols and reporting expectations when talking about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures. Watch this space! https://www.mediadiversityaustralia.org/what-we-do/

10. Do you have a website or any social media platforms you would like us to include?

Come follow me at @shannanjdodson on Twitter and also check out this article I wrote last year on lateral violence in our communities https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/09/too-white-too-black-or-not-black-enough-this-is-not-a-question-for-others-to-decide