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A career high at the summit​

brooke odonnell kalamunda reconciliation plan straight talk

Brooke O’Donnell was looking for inspiration in her career in local government when she applied for Oxfam Australia’s Straight Talk program.

Brooke O’Donnell is a proud Palyku woman who lives in Perth, on Wadjuk Noongar land. The 36-year-old trained social worker has been a local Councillor in the City of Kalamunda for the past five years. She also works for the Department of Communities, “building systems to improve standards for our people,” she says.

Two years ago, finding herself in need of inspiration and direction, Brooke attended our National Straight Talk Summit.

Thanks to our supporters, the Straight Talk program gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women the opportunity to come together and engage with Australia’s political system.

“I was really stagnated and kind of needed that extra push, so I thought if I was successful in getting into the program, it would … remind me what I was doing and where I am going,” she explains.

“I think the biggest thing for Aboriginal women in politics is that sometimes you forget that you have such a valuable opportunity to make such a difference. And there is not many of us here in this realm so I need to be constantly thinking about that.”

During the program, Brooke gained a deeper insight into Australian politics, realising “that Federal Government is something I’m really passionate about and perhaps somewhere I’d like to keep going to”. She also felt empowered by meeting other First Nations women from Australia, Asia and the Pacific.

“It was amazing to see the amount of other Indigenous cultures. When I saw that there are far more commonalities with Aboriginal women and First Nations women from all around the world, I felt stronger and connected to women and to Aboriginal people in general.”

For Aboriginal women and girls who are thinking of leadership opportunities, Brooke says: “Just give it a go. If [people] say you can’t do it, you can definitely do it.”

The 2021 Straight Talk program will be held in Canberra. For more information, visit our Straight Talk page or email