Empowering women in Indigenous communities, Natasha Short is influencing social change in the Kimberleys

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After witnessing decades of socio-economic disadvantage in Indigenous communities across the Kimberley, Natasha Short was passionate about positive social change and redressing injustices from a young age.

With the encouragement of a friend in 2018, the Jaru woman established Kimberley Jiyigas, a business advisory service for indigenous women that has grown into a movement of Kimberley indigenous women passionate about influencing social change.

Ms Short said she was quick to involve other Indigenous women across the Kimberley after setting up her consultancy business.

“I thought well, I’m not going to do it alone,” Ms Short said.

“I will do this with other indigenous women in the Kimberley who I believe are positive role models and people in the communities who are seen as active and highly regarded people.”

Ms Short said her decision was based on a perspective of how indigenous women in Kimberley contribute to their communities.

“I really felt that in our Kimberley community, women are our leaders, but they’re informal leaders or they’re in the background and they just don’t get noticed.”

“I thought these are the backbone of our community and these are the community leaders and the people who manage their families are doing all kinds of amazing things with very limited resources.”

Ms. Short drew on her 25 years of experience in the community development sector to found Kimberley Jiyigas. Image: provided.

“I thought they were an untapped resource for the betterment of our community.”

In less than four years, Ms Short has transformed Kimberley Jiyigas into a vast network of indigenous women across the Kimberley who use their range of skills and expertise to provide business services, products to solve social problems and opportunities employment and training for Aboriginal communities. .

Ms Short said Kimberley Jiyigas’ business advisory support was often used as a starting point for indigenous women in Kimberley to enter the business world.

“What we’re doing is planting the seeds of the business in their minds,” she said.

“If we can empower women with the capital, resources and support they need, then we can transform our communities.

“I’ve seen the huge benefit of it in a short time and how positive it is.”

Offering services such as cultural and community education, event and program management, leadership and mentoring, and business development coaching and support, Kimberley Jiyigas has caught the attention of many individuals and organizations who joined the movement for common causes.

A recent collaboration took place with the non-profit Young Change Agents on Lighting the Spark, a program that encourages young indigenous women in Kimberley to solve social problems through business ventures.

“We spoke to young women in our community between the ages of 14 and 24 about how they could solve a problem in our community but with a business,” Ms Short said.

Ms. Short is creating social change where women can influence for the better across the Kimberley. Image: Kimberly Jiyigas.

“We asked them what business could you start in response to a problem you see and how you would go about solving that problem.”

Kimberley Jiyigas has also collaborated with the Menzies Foundation and the non-profit organization Good Return on the Maganda Makers Initiative, a grassroots initiative led by Kimberley Indigenous women designed to nurture, advocate and support Kimberley Indigenous women in the business.

The initiative has been well received by indigenous women interested in business entrepreneurship, with business mentors spread across Kimberley to support them in their various business ventures.

“So far, we have 130 indigenous Kimberley women aspiring, emerging or thriving in business,” Ms Short said.

“To cater to these 130 women, we have eight business creation navigators who are indigenous women positioned all around the Kimberley.

“Our female ambassadors are strategically positioned throughout so we can have a lot of conversation with different women and just cheer them on.

“It’s an online business community where women can step away from other people’s lateral violence, criticize them for trying to get into business, and enter a space where they’ll just find women who will support them.”

Ms Short is attending this month’s Global Social Enterprise Forum to discuss business enterprise in the Kimberley and the challenges associated with the region’s business environment.

The forum will be held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Center from September 28-29.

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