international womens day

Meet Michelle: My sisters and aunts have been my courage makers

International Women's Day 2022

In the lead up to International Women’s Day 2022, we are honoured to share the stories and words of Indigenous women at BHP. 

My name is Michelle Adams, I’m a mother, sister, aunt and grandmother, and the Superintendent of an innovative trainee program that engages Banjima Traditional Owners in the mining industry, through site rehabilitation activities. 

Growing up, my biggest influence was my non-Indigenous mother. She instilled in me the need for compassion, justice and fairness.  

Through sharing their passion, my sisters and aunts (family and culturally) have been my courage makers. They have shown me courage and given me courage to speak up, to push the boundaries and to not accept the norm. 
Through their support, my sisters and aunts have also been power makers; they have given me strength to acknowledge the validity of my lived experiences, to live with integrity and to accept my role as an influencer within my family and to every other person I come into contact with.

What does the IWD theme #BreakTheBias mean to me? Bias to me is about limitations – real or perceived – internal or external. #BreakTheBias is taking direct and sustained action to remove those limitations.

It’s not just about acknowledging that discrimination, poor social and economic outcomes, or inter-generational trauma from historical policies exist and still impact people today.  Nor is it just about setting up strategy directions and discussion frameworks through focused recruitment campaigns or equity quotas. These alone do not #BreakTheBias.  

My experiences are real. The experiences of other Indigenous Australians, women and other diverse groups are real.  Ours is a lived experience with the trauma of living with bias - all the time, across all aspects of life.  We need real engagement and commitment to work through the limitations imposed on us and those we impose on ourselves.

So, to me, this year’s theme is asking people to get informed on the plight and asks of Indigenous Australians and to have the courage and strength to challenge or “break” those limitations that prevent us from effectively engaging others and from realising people’s full value, especially those who may be different from us. 

We all have a responsibility to help #BreakTheBias.  We all have the potential to influence change and we need to find the courage to do so. As an American writer, Audre Lorde once said, “When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid.  So it is better to speak.”  

Indigenous women bring invaluable knowledge, perspectives and skills to all parts of society. This year for IWD22, BHP is celebrating the Indigenous women we work and partner with and having a conversation about what more we all need to do to ensure Indigenous voices are included, valued and importantly, heard. 

#IWD2022 #BreakTheBias