Djirra: ending violence against Aboriginal Women

11 November 2022

Share your support to end violence against Aboriginal women alongside Kuku Yalanji woman Antoinette Braybrook, this year’s outstanding Melburnian of the Year. 

Antoinette leads an organisation called Djirra, which provides practical support in a culturally safe space for Aboriginal people who experience family violence. 

‘I’ve been the CEO of Djirra for 20 years. It’s been my life and I’ve grown with Djirra as Djirra has grown,’ Antoinette said. 

‘As an Aboriginal woman the work is deeply personal. I want to change the narrative for our future generations.’ 

With deep wisdom and strong leadership, Djirra advocates for the key factors of change needed to create better outcomes for Aboriginal people. 

‘A critical part of our work is to identify systemic issues from our frontline experience. Women sharing their experiences allows us to advocate and influence change,’ Antoinette said. 

‘Governments must end racist and punitive responses that see our children removed and women locked up at the highest rates in the country.  

‘We will only see change when government invests in Aboriginal-led, self-determined solutions.’ 

Reflecting on her journey with Djirra, some moments stand out to Antoinette as particularly important. 

‘The Royal Commission into Family Violence recognised Djirra’s Sisters Day Out and Dilly Bag Programs as best practice,’ Antoinette said. 

‘This led to an unprecedented investment from the Victorian Government into our frontline and early intervention and prevention work for Aboriginal women. 

‘Another stand-out moment was our 15-year celebration where we changed our name to ‘Djirra’, a Woi-wurrung word, and the organisation was gifted to Aboriginal women.’ 

Looking to the future, Antoinette and her team have a clear vision for gender justice and family violence prevention. 

‘Djirra’s long-standing vision has been to establish an Aboriginal Women’s Centre that is fully invested in to provide holistic services and programs,’ Antoinette said. 

‘A centre that Aboriginal women from every corner of the state can access. Where Aboriginal women’s culture and identity is validated, respected and acknowledged. One that sees Aboriginal people leading the way, making their own decisions about their own lives.’ 

Antoinette is the first Aboriginal person to be named Melburnian of the Year. 

She credits her ongoing success to the strength of the women around her. 

‘So many people have contributed to Djirra’s journey. I have a solid group of amazing women around me that I can rely on,’ Antoinette said. 

‘The strength, resilience and courage of Aboriginal women inspires me every day. 

‘This award is recognition of the strength and courage of every Aboriginal woman who has put her trust in Djirra, so to each of you I dedicate this award.’   

Antoinette encourages anyone seeking to better understand or support change to reach out to Djirra

‘You can donate to Djirra to become part of our story and help us realise our vision to end violence against Aboriginal women,’ she said. 

We’re honoured to announce that Antoinette will deliver an oration at Town Hall to launch National Reconciliation Week, which runs from 27 May to 3 June. View our full program of National Reconciliation Week events.

About the Melbourne Awards 

The Melburnian of the Year is an inspirational role model who has made an outstanding contribution to the city in their chosen field, as well as a significant contribution to the Melbourne community.   

The award is part of the Melbourne Awards, the City of Melbourne’s highest accolades, through which we celebrate inspirational Melburnians who do amazing things to make this city a word leader. 

A group of people at an awards night
Lord Mayor Sally Capp with Ky-ya Nicholson-Ward, Mandy Nicholson and Dharna Nicholson-Bux from Djirri Djirri Cultural Services

This year’s winners are:

  • Djirri Djirri Cultural Services – a Wurundjeri female-led dance group, also mentoring young Aboriginal girls in ceremony, language, dance and leadership, creating a firm cultural grounding. 
    Category: Aboriginal Melbourne – ganbu guljin
  • PHOTO 2022 International Festival of Photography – Australia’s largest photography event showcasing talent from artists across the globe.  
    Category: Arts and Events
  • Kensington Neighbourhood House – place for people of all abilities, backgrounds and ages to connect, learn, and create.  
    Category: Community
  • Supernormal – a lively, modern Australian restaurant with a contemporary Japanese aesthetic.  
    Category: Hospitality
  • The Conversation: a truly global newsroom – a leading publisher of research-based news and analysis, headquartered in Melbourne.  
    Category: Knowledge and Innovation
  •  Transfamily – providing peer support for family, partners, friends and loved ones as they journey alongside transgender and gender diverse people.  
    Category: LGBTIQ+
  • Reground – a social enterprise helping to create a circular economy through waste collection and waste minimisation projects, such as coffee grounds for compost.  
    Category: Sustainability
  • Queen & Collins by Kerstin Thompson Architects and BVN – an integration of three neo-gothic heritage buildings championing a vision for a future workplace. 
    Category: Urban Design

The City of Melbourne would like to acknowledge and thank principal partner Epicure and event partners 3AW, Channel 9, Ernst & Young, Naomi Milgrom Foundation, The Everleigh Bottling Co, Victorian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and WAIVPAY.

For more information, visit Melbourne Awards.

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