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blak matriarchies

Paola Balla, Amelia & Rosalie Kunoth-Monks & Kirli Saunders 

For more than 65,000 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, grandmothers and aunties have been pillars of the community. Don't miss these panellists talk about the survival of matriarchal society.

All About Women venues are located within the Sydney Opera House.


“I'm grateful I was raised by an angry black mother, and grandmother and Aunties...They taught me to stand up and fight”

Paola Balla

word to the mothers

Many believe feminism rolls in waves - but Blak Matriarchy has existed across time. Australia's First Nation peoples have lived for at least 65,000 years in matriarchal systems, sharing stories, knowledge and songlines. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, grandmothers and aunties are leaders, trailblazers, politicians. Respected elders continue to teach love, justice, how to raise children, how to work, how to survive - and how to resist. 

This will be a brilliant conversation disrupting the roots of racism within mainstream feminism, and honouring the wisdom of powerful Blak women. Join this incredible lineup of women from across generations as they pay tribute to the strong women who raised them and the ongoing knowledge passed down the matrilineal line.

More about...

Paola Balla

A Wemba-Wemba and Gunditjmara woman, Paola Balla is an artist, curator, and writer who is based at the Moondani Balluk Indigenous Academic Centre at Victoria University. She is a PhD researcher on Aboriginal women’s art and practices of resistance, matriarchy, healing and protection/activism, and is the inaugural Lisa Bellear Indigenous Research Scholar.  In 2015 Paola curated Executed in Franklin Street at City Gallery for the City of Melbourne. Her work has appeared in Etchings Indigenous, The Lifted Brow, Peril Magazine, and the Victorian Writer. 

Amelia Kunoth-Monks

Amelia Kunoth-Monks is an Eastern Islander and Amatjerre woman from the community of Utopia, 250 kilometres North East of Alice Springs. She has spent a lot of time talking about the injustice of the Northern Territory intervention, stronger futures and basics cards in forums right across the country. She's done this with her much admired and immensely respected grandmother, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks. 

Kirli Saunders

Kirli Saunders is a proud Gunai woman, with ties to the Yuin, Gundungurra, Gadigal and Biripi people. An award-winning, international children’s author, poet, emerging playwright and artist, she manages Poetry in First Languages and Poetic Learning at Red Room Poetry. Her poetry collection, Kindred, was Highly Commended in Black&Write 2018. Kirli was the inaugural winner of the WA 2019 Premier's Literary Awards – Daisy Utemmorah Award. She is currently working on her verse novel, Mother Speaks, and is co-writing her first play.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks is an Arrernte Anmatjere woman from the Northern Territory. Born on Utopia Station, Rosalie moved to Alice Springs. At 16 she played the lead role in the film, Jedda. The film was the first to feature an Aboriginal person in a lead role. After 10 years in a Melbourne convent, Rosalie settled in Alice and started a career of over 50 years in human rights and politics. Rosalie is passionate about Aboriginal people having access to their land, language and culture. Her contribution at local and national levels is vast, including Advisor on Aboriginal Affairs in the NT, to Trailblazer for the Oxfam Straight Talk program. Rosalie has received countless awards, including an Order of Australia Medal, Northern Territorian of the year, NAIDOC person of the year and finalist for Australian of the Year.

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