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Proud Bundjalung Widubul-Wiabul Woman, Advocate for Human and Children's Rights & Reform


Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts is a proud Bundjalung Widubul-Wiabul Woman who is a Human Rights advocate, author, writer and has acquired a Law and Social work degree whilst completing her First-class honour thesis at the University of New South Wales.

In 2023 Vanessa was appointed as the ACT’s inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People Commissioner. In this role, she will work to protect and promote the rights, interests and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the ACT, both individually and at a systemic level.

Vanessa is also a recipient of the Australian Human Rights Medal, awarded by the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, in 2019 where her acceptance speech gained global recognition and response. She has also been named as one of 10 Changemakers standing and showing up for a better future by Women’s Agenda and selected in the Power Generation: emerging Indigenous leaders on overcoming adversity.

Current Work

Vanessa is an activist, lawyer, writer and a researcher at the University of Technology dedicating her work to decolonisation and empowering Indigenous self-determination and Justice for First Nations people and children both in Australia and globally. She is also currently writing her first book Long Yarn Shot which tells her story, and identifies the history of Australia, whilst inviting the people to come and learn together.

Vanessa regularly leads protests, and ensures the messaging and voices of Black Lives Matter are amplified. She continues to commit her work to end discrimination and, ensure the rights of Indigenous people are heard. Vanessa actively shares the power of intersectionality and recognises the importance of gender and diversity, Indigenous People, and Human Rights. Vanessa has represented Australia on the international scale, where she was asked to attend Lebanon for the global convention and human rights.

Vanessa has spoken at a variety of events, including After-Hours hosted by the NSW Art Gallery, All About Women at the Sydney Opera House, The Sydney Writers Festival, Ngalu Warrawi (We Stand Strong) Australian Museum and others. In these presentations , Vanessa invites audiences to engage with truth-telling as she demonstrates her love for humanity, how we come together, how we can show up and re-imagine a better world with practice.

Vanessa has written for the Guardian, Indigenous X, Junkie, and Victoria’s Women Trust. She is a regular media contributor and advisor to different political parties regarding issues affecting Indigenous people and Children.

Vanessa is a survivor of Out of Home Care and uses her experience and truth to share with people the importance of human rights, children’s rights and creating a better world. Vanessa was forcibly removed at the age of 10.5 by the department and uses her survival experiences and truth to navigate change. Vanessa’s critical thinking allows for a new perspective of inspiration and action.

Vanessa has had numerous experiences throughout the fields of children and young people and has dedicated most of her life towards the movement and freedom for justice, empowering First Nations self-determination and ensuring Children’s voices are heard and represented.

Talking Points

Reimaging a Better World

It is even possible? In this presentation Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts, a proud Bundjalung Widubul-Wiabul woman, invites audiences to learn how to do this, and how to show up. Vanessa stresses thatthe onus is on us to demand change and that we have a responsibility and must not choose silence’. Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts is known, for bringing the people together, where she brings thousands in numbers for protest, influences a whole room when she speaks, and continues to demonstrate what leadership really means, and how do we create a better world.

Key Takeaways:
- You will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to identify ways to support the rights and wellbeing of First Nations people
- The audience will walk away with resilience, strength and inspiration, listening and learning with a survivor who has done all she can to be in this very position.
- Recognisee your contribution, and understand ways in which your organisation, company and community can gain greater knowledge and insight into re-imaging a better world that places values, ethics and justice at the frontline for change.
- Have the opportunity to listen and share with an individual who has both lived and professional experience and qualifications.
- The rights and wellbeing of children’s rights, Indigenous rights and human rights.
- Motivated to create and practice a better world in your everyday life. Understanding that our skill sets are all unique, but together play a crucial role to demanding justice.

Who this is for:
- Educators
- Organisations / companies with social and corporate responsibility ethics and those wanting to identify ways to improve their workplace with ethical values and standards
- Human Rights Events and Organisation
- Organisations looking to centre Indigenous / First Nations Voices and perspectives on the History of Australia, the impact of history and understanding truth-telling.
- Future women and intersectional events
- Organisations looking for intersectional perspectives on Diversity and Inclusion, Cultural Competency and building safe spaces for First Nations, LGBTQIA+ and other underrepresented groups.
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