These 5 Indigenous women are trailblazers. Here's what they want you to know.

When women are given equal opportunities to earn, learn and lead, entire communities thrive. The same goes when our Indigenous communities, particularly their fabulous female leaders and trailblazers, are upheld and celebrated. 

Watch: the Kimberley's strong women. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

So this International Women's Day, Mamamia is platforming five incredible women and speaking to them about their achievements and aspirations for the future of Indigenous excellence.

Leah Purcell.

An actor, writer, producer and director — Leah Purcell is one of the greats of Australia's entertainment industry.

With over 33 years in the business and countless film and television projects to her name, the proud Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka Murri woman tells Mamamishe likely needs to "stop and smell the roses a bit more".

"It's a lot of pressure to get it right. I think I have to stop and celebrate the success a bit more and how far I've come," she notes. 

"I don't know what I'd be doing if it wasn't this. To have found a job that I love and I'm passionate about, I feel really blessed. Also to especially tell stories with Indigenous content in it and bring understanding and shine a light on otherwise political subject matters with heart and soul."


She also has a new show coming out on BINGE called High Country, an eight-part mystery thriller which premieres on March 19. It was filmed on the lands of the Taungurung and Wurundjeri Peoples, the series inspired by the cultures and identities specific to the region.

Leah Purcell. Image: Supplied. 


"You get to lay the mystery out and that's really cool. Everyone on set is part of the story creation, and getting to have those few hats on myself is a lot of fun, being the actor but also an Executive Producer and the Cultural Consultant," she says.

Purcell is the first, First Nations woman and person to be the star and have a show commissioned around them by a streaming service/PayTV platform. The fact she is also an Executive Producer on the series who was across scripts, casting and creative hires and the Cultural Consultant through her production company Oombarra Productions is also a first.

"I think we're going along at a good pace when it comes to Indigenous representation. It's come a long way from when I first started with the opportunities available, and I think as long as we keep striving for excellence, the industry will be great. And that stands for giving people options both in front of the camera but also behind it at all levels."

As Purcell notes, everyone wants to see themselves represented on screen in some way.

"The more we can get the audience to connect personally with our stories, and also have cast and crew from diverse backgrounds and be advocates for those stories — things will only get bigger and better."

Liandra Gaykamangu.

Liandra Gaykamangu is the Founding-CEO of Liandra and a Yolngu woman from East Arnhem Land. 

Liandra is a luxury lifestyle brand known for classic reversible swim styles, resort wear, size inclusivity and signature prints which are inspired by Aboriginal culture. 


She has also just launched her Fruits of the Sea collection, the beautiful campaign featuring Jesinta Franklin. Liandra will also be showing in her first standalone Australian Fashion Week show this year.

LiandraGaykamangu. Image: Supplied

She says the culmination of chipping away at her vision and dream consistently for the past six years gives her a lot of joy. Gaykamangu has travelled the world with her brand, from being invited to a private keynote by Mexico Vogue's Editor-in-Chief, to meeting Bottega Veneta's Creative Director and even being within feet of Salma Hayek backstage in Milan.

"The Liandra brand creates and supports opportunities in my community, for my family and region in East Arnhem Land, and that always keeps me motivated. I feel there is still a way to go for the Australian Fashion industry to understand the multi-faceted elements of First Nations fashion and to see us as not all the same, but rather celebrated for the different ways we work in and are a part of the fashion industry," she tells Mamamia.


"From a personal standpoint, I love that I get to meet and work with so many different people, from around the world, whilst also creating opportunities for remote Indigenous Australia. When I think about the experiences I have personally had and the people I have come into contact with — sometimes I have to pinch myself."

Liz Kupsch.

Elizabeth (Liz) Kupsch is the inaugural Director of First Nations Education at EREA Flexible Schools, her appointment marking a significant milestone in prioritising Indigenous perspectives and voices in the education sector.

She has brought invaluable expertise from her esteemed roles at Reconciliation Australia, Brisbane Catholic Education, Stronger Smarter Institute, CSIRO, and Education Queensland.

Liz Kupsch. Image: Supplied.


"The common feature throughout my career that I've loved the most is when I get the feeling that I've broken through. A lot of my work is talking to people and giving them an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders histories and cultures," Kupsch notes.

"When people go to me, 'Oh I've never thought about it like that', and their eyes are opened if you will, it's so special. That's absolutely what I believe my purpose is — to open up new spaces for deep learning."

Kupsch says she's seen significant progress in the last 10 years compared to the previous two decades before that, when it comes to Indigenous education opportunities. 

She gives the example of years ago when it was "such a huge fight with school communities to put the Aboriginal flags in schools".

But whether we're nationally seeing this progress lead to improved outcomes — that still needs improvement. In the meantime, though, Kupsch says her role is one that gives her a lot of purpose. 


"I found my strengths early, being the only girl in a family of seven. This job gives me so much purpose, I've had kids come up to me years later saying, 'Thank you for being my primary school teacher, I learned a lot from you.' I'm only one person, but sometimes that's all it takes to make a tangible difference."

Dr Hannah McGlade. 

Dr Hannah McGlade is a Nyungar human rights lawyer and academic. Specifically, she's an Associate Professor at Curtin University's Law School and an expert member of the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues. Throughout her career she's had a focus on justice, race discrimination law and practice, Aboriginal women and children, family violence and sexual assault.

Dr Hannah McGlade. Image: KIKEI [DOT] NET Photography/Supplied.


"I studied international human rights law and was inspired by the fight of Aboriginal people and Indigenous peoples worldwide for the development of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Being appointed a member of the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues was a very proud moment," she tells Mamamia.

"There's a strong principle in human rights law known as 'Leave No One Behind' and I think that resonates with my Noongar culture which is based in reciprocity and respect for people and all beings. I live in my community and I know that we have not overcome what was a genocidal history. Systemic racism is alive and well and impacting the lives of even children today. People are really hurting and we must do better as a nation. Sadly, the referendum last year showed us we have a way to go."

In 2016 when working in Switzerland for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr McGlade noted that a separate national action plan for Indigenous women to address the violence they face was crucial. Now it's official government policy, likely to bring enormous change to many lives.

"Every one of us and can be the change we want to see in the world. I didn't come from a privileged background — racism, institutionalisation, poverty, homelessness, sexual assault and violence as a child in care blighted my life. Education provided so much possibility, I'm living a life I couldn't even dream of as a child," she says


"So much is thrown in our way, as Aboriginal women, but we are strong and a force to be reckoned with. I wouldn't be anything without amazing Indigenous women in my life."

Bek Lasky.

At just 22 years old, proud Wakaya woman Bek Lasky is the CEO of Ngarrimili. It's a First Nations governed and managed charity working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs, creatives, and organisations to drive economic prosperities.

Bek Lasky. Image: Supplied.


Recently they opened an Indigenous retail, arts, and business hub in the centre of Geelong called Murran.

Lasky tells Mamamia that being asked to take over as CEO of Ngarrimili was her proudest moment to date.

"In my role, I see the amount of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals wanting to enter into business and entrepreneurship pathways. It's important that moving forward we continue to build on the good and positive outcomes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities are continuing to show the world — especially in business and entrepreneurship," she explains.

"It's important that the industry stops using deficit language (focusing on the negatives) and amplifies Blak businesses, their voices and positive stories."

Plus, working mostly with amazing women and young people is a joy too.

"The world can sometimes be a scary place, but trust yourself, trust your intuition and believe in yourself and your abilities. It's really empowering to see Blak people chase their dreams."

Feature Image: Supplied.