Antoinette Braybrook is the CEO of Djirra. Djirra is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation that provides holistic and culturally safe spaces for Aboriginal women to get the legal and non-legal support that they need and want.
We talked with Antoinette about Djirra what drives her and the organisation every day. Recently Antoinette was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women, just one of Antoinette’s many accolades. It is very clear to me, that whilst these awards are recognition of Antoinette’s work, it’s not what drives her. Antoinette fights daily with passion and fire in her belly. Antoinette is a true inspiration to many. I am thankful that Antoinette has agreed to share her journey and be a part of our CEO Pippa Hallas’s ‘Bold Women Series’.
Working alongside Board members and on a very small budget, we originally set up Djirra as a legal service at the Queen Victoria Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. Since then, we have worked around the clock ensuring that Aboriginal women and their children have a voice and are safe and free from violence. We are now a state wide organisation delivering a range of holistic services and programs across metropolitan and regional Victoria. I am very proud of what we have achieved, and we will continue this important work.
“I am inspired by my mother to live boldly and courageously. She has fought hard for equality and to have our voices heard; I honour and carry on that legacy. As Aboriginal women we are strong and we never give up.”
“I want my family and my community to succeed and thrive. I hold this as a personal responsibility. This has always been my driving force, and it remains the same today.”
It’s always been important for me to surround myself with the right people; people with the right skills and a shared passion for our work. Trust is crucial, and the stakes are high. I have worked hard to build and maintain strong relationships within our community - to be visible and accessible to Aboriginal women. I started ‘Djirra Keepers’ which is an ongoing community of women, including Aboriginal elders. These women ensure that we remain strong, focused and guided.
I never apologise for the stand I take because there is no compromise when it comes to supporting and protecting Aboriginal women and children that are being impacted by a flawed and racist system. While I have never seen myself as an expert, I do see myself as an Aboriginal women with a voice. It’s my responsibility to use voice and amplify the voices of Aboriginal women who are made invisible. I have put in the hard yards and have made some sacrifices along the way. Djirra for me, is not a job, it’s my life, and it’s deeply personal.
My message to all Aboriginal women:
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you no; keep on fighting for what you want and need – let this be your driving force.”
Djirra is a place where culture is shared and celebrated, where practical support is available to Aboriginal women. We believe in what we do, we support and enable women to create their own story.
“Djirra is the Woiwurrung word for the reed used by Wurundjeri women for basket weaving. Traditionally, when women gathered to weave, important talks took place and problems were solved. Djirra symbolises Aboriginal women today - still coming together to share stories, support each other and find solutions.
To find out more and support Djirra’s great work visit https://djirra.org.au/who-we-are/