Mob Pod - Sandra Creamer from NATSIWA
Sandra Creamer is a Waanyi/Kalkadoon Indigenous woman from Australia. Sandra is the CEO of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance, Lawyer and Adjunct Professor in Public Health at the University of Queensland. Sandra was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) award on the Queen's Birthday 2019 by the Attorney General of Australia for her work with Indigenous women and peoples. Sandra talks about the work of NATSIWA in the community and why good money management is crucial in running a successful organisation. Sandra also shares her thoughts on NAIDOC Week and what the week means to her.
LG: Hello everybody and welcome. We’re very lucky today to be speaking with Sandra Creamer, CEO of the National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance. Welcome Sandra.
LG: My Name is Lisa Gissing from Westpac’s Davidson Institute and before we begin, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we meet and pay my respects to elders both past and present. I also acknowledge and pay respects to those here today who identify as being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and recognise the diversity of Indigenous peoples, countries, and cultures in Australia.
LG: As Australia’s first bank, we acknowledge our role in supporting an inclusive and diverse nation where all of our cultural backgrounds are recognised and respected. Sandra, first of all tell us a little bit more about yourself and NATSIWA.
SC: Thank you Lisa for the introduction. I would just like to acknowledge the land that I’m on at the moment. I’m actually a Waanyi/Kalkadoon but I’m on Darumbal land at present. That’s where I live, and I’d also like to acknowledge all our elders past and present.
SC: So, yeah, the name of my organisation as you know is NATSIWA, the National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance organisation. And what we are is an organisation for indigenous women in particular. I’m the CEO of the National Aboriginal organisation. I’ve been here for nearly 4 years in the role.
SC: We’ve got nearly over 5,000 followers on our Facebook page. We have nearly 1200 indigenous women members and we’re growing. And we have 10 organisation members. So, it’s a really good organisation. We work widely, nationally, with all indigenous women. And through our board of directors we’re able to reach out to many women in each state and territory.
LG: So how does NATSIWA support the women in the community?
SC: You’ll actually see on our webpage we have a section where we’ve, where we have publications and newsletters. So, we do support them by writing submissions into when there is changes in legislations. One of the things we actually done with Fair Agenda and a couple of other, we were the only indigenous organisation doing it. We petitioned to have the tax exemption for our hygiene products removed. So that was a really good bonus for us. Especially for women out in remote areas.
SC: So that tax exemption really applied out to them. So, they’re the sort of things that we do. We’ve also written submissions regarding superannuation and when it comes to domestic violence and victims of crime being able to get access for superannuation. When it comes to being paid any sort of reparation. We also do work with our women on the ground. We went out, as you know we’ve partnered with Westpac, which has been excellent.
SC: And we’ve done for the past 3 years we did workshops out there in Alice Springs. Working with indigenous women in supporting them with businesses. And how to be able to look at starting their own businesses. What they actually needed to do. So, we’re working doing many different partnerships which has been really an excellent thing. We’re here to try and support our women in many different ways.
It’s sort of a wide area but it’s about the health and wellbeing of our women that’s most important.
LG: Sounds great. And I guess for women that are on the line listening today - How can people become involved or join your organisation?
SC: Well they can go to our website on the NATSIWA webpage and we’ve got a section there where they’ve got membership, and they can sign on online memberships. And then we actually, every board meeting we have, which is every 6 weeks generally, we then approve those members.
LG: What are some of your tips for some of the other organisations that might be listening today? How important is money management in running an organisation like NATSIWA?
SC: I think it’s very important. I think one of the most important things is that, with the national board, we do look for grass root women, but who do work within the community. That’s one of the main things. But as well, have a good understanding of governance.
SC: I think that’s one of the most important things is that by having a good understanding of governance, the directors know what the roles, and what their duty of care is to the organisation. They understand their roles in fiduciary duties and also what their liabilities are. That’s really important when it comes to our funding.
SC: And one of the most important things is that to run a successful organisation is governance as well as having a good bookkeeper. I think, you know, people go to accountants but you’ve also got to have a good bookkeeper who really knows how to be able to do all the financial reports and we’ve got a very good bookkeeper who does that.
SC: You also need to have a treasurer who has a good understanding of reading financial reports as well as the main thing is there’s a good partnership between myself, the treasurer, and the bookkeeper. And how to, you know, when it comes to money management.
SC: And also, I’ve also got a good project officer. She has a very good understanding and background. So, between the 4 of us we really have very good communications. It’s just really knowing how to handle money. To know how to keep all of your receipts.
SC: But at the same time, it’s about teamwork and working in the best interests of the organisation. And I think by doing that you can run a successful organisation. Money is very important because without it we’re not able to do the things that we can do.
LG: What are a couple of things that I guess we could all do to help build the financial confidence for women out there at the moment?
SC: I think one of the main things that we can all do to help build financial confidence in women is - I’ve come across a lot of people who have been in situations where they’re not financially independent. But I think it’s about education like what we’ve done with you with running workshops.
SC: Where we get grass root women along and we talk about finances, understanding what finance is about. Bank accounts. Understanding different transactions that happen. And giving them the idea that money is always about business, whether you’re in the household or whether you’re running a business.
SC: You’ve got to have an understanding of budget. Get an understanding of your spending and what you’re putting out and what is coming in. The income that is coming in and the income that is going out. But if you’re not sure, there is a lot of information out there especially if you went to Davidson Institute.
SC: They’ve got some very good packages which we showed our women. If you don’t understand, go to your bank. There’s always somebody at the bank you can talk to about your financial budgeting or if you’re not quite sure they can actually give you that direction.
LG: Yeah great. And again, some great tips and advice there. And finally, NAIDOC week is coming up very shortly. What does NAIDOC week mean to you?
SC: Oh, it really means a lot to me Lisa. This year the theme is Always was, always will be. And I think that’s an important theme because for indigenous people one of the most important thing is our connection to our land and our connection to culture. And that’s why this theme to me is very important this year because it’s through our land and our knowledge of our culture and everything that we’re able to still keep our language going.
Still keep our traditional values going and still have that identity as indigenous peoples in this country and around the world.
SC: It’s really important that we celebrate together NAIDOC week. It’s also a time for people to acknowledge that we’re actually part of a huge movement of indigenous people. There’s over 500 million indigenous peoples in the world. And we all have a culture. We all have a language and it’s a time for sharing and for people to understand what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and how rich our culture can be.
SC: And how we still have that connection to our land. How we still have that connection to culture. But it’s also a showcase for us to showcase … yes, we have all of this so enjoy us as one of the oldest cultures in the world, here, living in Australia and in your backyard. And see what the beauty that we have in our rich culture that we can share. And the knowledge that we can bring. Because when you listen to our elders talk about our Dreamtime stores there’s a lot of value in that.
SC: It speaks about values. It brings a human face to kindness. To about respect and all of those things. So, it’s important that we learn together and to walk together about culture especially about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, indigenous around the world. Because now the world is changing, there’s a lot of diverse happening. And we have to understand that there is a culture here in Australia. People do speak the language.
SC: As you know Lisa out in Alice Springs a lot of the people don’t even speak English. Which is really important for people to understand. And that’s what NAIDOC is about, it’s about showing who we are and our culture and sharing that knowledge of what we do have.
LG: Sandra thank you very much for your time and your wisdom and your hints and tips and advice today. I have thoroughly enjoyed speaking and listening with you today. So, on behalf of the Davidson Institute at Westpac let me thank you Sandra, CEO of NATSIWA, National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance. Thank you, Sandra.
SC: Thank you very much Lisa, thank you.