Broome researcher wins international award

Dr Anne Poelina

16 October 2017

University of Notre Dame Australia PhD researcher, Dr Anne Poelina, has won a top international award from the Geneva-based Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF) marking United Nations’ International Day of Rural Women on Sunday (15 October).

Dr Poelina was the only Australian – and the first since 1998 – to be recognised for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life which acknowledges rural women leaders and groups for their initiatives and ongoing work to end poverty, marginalisation and violence in rural communities across the world.

Currently undertaking research on environmental sustainability, Dr Poelina’s work focuses on building culture and conservation economies on the national heritage listed Fitzroy River in the West Kimberley region of WA.

The WWSF is a not-for-profit organisation that works alongside the United Nations to enhance women’s and children’s rights to equality and peace.

An Indigenous woman from the Mardoowarra region, commonly known as the Fitzroy Valley, Dr Poelina has played a leading role in Indigenous health, education, language maintenance, publishing, empowerment, clinical practice and cultural development for the past 40 years.

She has also been a strong advocate for the environmental protection of the Kimberley region – working to prevent the establishment of the gas-processing hub at James Price Point and thwart plans to mine coal in the floodplains of the Fitzroy River.

In addition to her ongoing research pursuits through Notre Dame’s Nulungu Research Institute, Dr Poelina is in the process of establishing the Mardoowarra College – a residential Indigenous community college for 13-25-year-olds in the Kimberley.

“This region has suffered some of the worst examples of conquest, colonisation, dispossession and continued subjection of the Traditional Owners in human colonial history,” Dr Poelina said.

“These individuals continue to experience the worst youth outcomes in the world, statistically speaking, particularly in regards to suicide, incarceration rates, drug and alcohol misuse, homelessness, unemployment and extreme poverty.

“I’m grateful and delighted at receiving this international recognition by the WWSF, and I am confident that we can all achieve positive outcomes for Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley and across Australia.”

Dr Poelina was honoured alongside laureates from nations including Sweden, Columbia, India and Mongolia.

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;