Black Lives Matter. Aboriginal Lives Matter.

Women’s Health West (WHW) stands in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and people of colour in Australia and across the world to end racism, racial inequity and injustice.

We recognise the strength, courage and resilience of First Nations peoples and people of colour, who are leading the movements to end systemic racism and other systems of oppression.

Like many individuals and organisations around the world, WHW has been devastated by the horrific scenes and reports in the US in relation to the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, as well as the consequential protests and displays of institutional brutality.

We know that these events are also relevant to this country – a country with a 200-year history of dispossession and trauma that continues today. 

Since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, 437 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have lost their lives. Yet, racial inequality is ingrained in our society in a much deeper and more malign way than statistics alone can demonstrate.

We support the Black Lives Matter movement — organisationally, given WHW is dedicated to fighting for equity and justice in the west, and individually, as we are each committed to fighting these injustices.

Racism is a health issue. Race discrimination and racial inequalities have a toxic effect on people’s health and wellbeing.

If we want to secure equality and justice in the west, they have to be for everyone, including First Nations peoples and people of colour.

The only way to fight racism is to be actively anti-racist. We are committed to being actively anti-racist, and ensuring that we are providing a safe, accessible and culturally competent service.

We know inaction is not an option, and to be silent on this issue is to be complicit.

We are based in the west of Melbourne, one of the most culturally diverse regions of Victoria. Many of our staff live here too. And yet we know that, as an organisation, our senior leadership is predominately white. We also know that we operate within a colonial framework that is predicated on oppression and discrimination.

We are working to change that. For example, we are just about to finalise our second Reconciliation Action Plan, our strategic planning process has been developed with a strong commitment to meaningful intersectionality, and we are completing client, staff and community profile work to better understand whether our workforce profile matches our community and clients. We are also developing an anti-oppressive framework to ensure our staff and client’s safety.

We recognise that we have work to do. While we are committed to immediate and long-term action, we are clear that we are at the start of this journey.

Part of this journey will involve real conversations, difficult conversations. But we are committed to holding uncomfortable conversations, educating ourselves, and amplifying the voices of First Nations peoples and people of colour in order to enact change.

We stand in solidarity with First Nations peoples and people of colour. We stand with you and will work together to reform and rebuild unjust and harmful systems.