Elena Wangurra is leading the way for First Nations and women of colour with QueenMode Collective (QMC), a community she founded to inspire, empower and enfranchise women through connection and collaboration.
Ms Wangurra is a Warramiri and Triestina woman from North-east Arnhem Land and the founder of QMC.
She was inspired after travelling the country for about 10 years in the performing arts, witnessing the lack of support for First Nations women in both regional communities and urban centres.
After her experience touring overseas, Ms Wangurra felt that Indigenous women in Australia needed access to a community to help them catch up with the rest of the world.
“I realised there were people overseas and women of colour overseas who were having the same issues that we were having here in Australia, but they were kind of further along in their colonial processes,” Ms Wangurra said.
“Where we are now [in Australia], we’re just seeing the first of a lot of lawyers, doctors, First Nations people in their fields in a lot of ways.”
Wangurra founded QMC in 2017 as a way of creating connections and a sisterhood, including access to tools and resources to help young Indigenous women reach their potential.
QMC runs arts-based workshop programs, meetups to highlight women in the community who are doing impressive things in their field and facilitates peer-to-peer mentoring.
The Collective also provide access to QMC ambassadors, First Nations women thriving in a variety of careers who other members of the QMC can ask for advice, direction and support.
QMC has also recently moved much of their resources online to give access to their community throughout Australia where there may not be any physical programs or workshops running.
Ms Wangurra said one of the objectives of QMC is to give a voice and platform to First Nations women to change the mainstream narrative of their story.
“We get to be in control and change the narrative around how people perceive stories about and for women of colour,” Ms Wangurra said.
“You don’t just have to be a maid or a slave, you can be the doctor, you can be the lawyer, you can be the next Jessica Mauboy, you can be at the top of your game and being a person of colour isn’t the thing that should hold you back.”
Ms Wangurra wants young women of colour to realise the strength they have by embracing their background, culture and stories.
“Being a woman of colour, even in Australia, is not actually something that is detrimental, it’s something that is our strength,” she said.
“If we can all understand that and really believe that, then we are able to achieve all these amazing things that we want to achieve.”
Ms Wangurra said the QMC community supports First Nations women to feel that sense of empowerment by encouraging them to share their own stories and connect with each other.
“We believe that women are the change makers and that we’re coming into a time now where women of colour voices are really important and our stories are really important,” Ms Wangurra said.
“We hope that through this platform and through empowering each other and sharing these stories that we are able to shift some of the disparity that we see and create positive social change for our experience and our children and grandchildren.”
To learn more about the QMC head to their website at www.queenmodecollective.com.
By Sarah Mozley