WORD PODCAST: Women on Racism and Discrimination
Auntie Bernice Hookey: Empowering Indigenous Communities and Addressing Systemic Racism
In this edition of WORD – Women On Racism and Discrimination, Auntie Bernice Hookey, a proud Waanyi woman from the Gulf of Carpentaria and the founder and CEO of MZB Empowerment, shares her insights into systemic racism and its impact on First Nations people.
She emphasises the importance of cultural inclusion, leadership responsibility, and the need for allies to listen with intent. Auntie Bernice’s resilience, passion, and commitment to creating a more equitable and inclusive society is a guiding light to the community – especially those striving for social justice.
Jailing is Failing
Auntie Bernice’s words carry the weight of her lived experiences as she vividly explains how systemic injustices reverberate through the lives of Indigenous individuals. She highlights the constant battle to secure positions and opportunities, often denied due to biases and institutional barriers. Auntie’s concern with the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in the criminal justice system reflects the emotional toll on both the individuals themselves and their extended families – something she is witnessing first-hand.
Being a hope for others
Acknowledging the challenges of finding hope amid personal hardships, Auntie Bernice emphasises the power of listening and finding strength in shared stories. She encourages us to reach out to one another, seeking solace and understanding in similar circumstances.
Listening to respond or listening to care
When asked for advice for younger allies and those who need help, Auntie Bernice urges them to question whether they are truly listening to understand or merely responding or reacting to conversations. She emphasises self-care, encouraging us to vent, cry, and express our emotions while not internalising unnecessary trauma.
Vulnerability, according to Auntie Bernice, is a strength that allows people to support one another and work towards a better future.
About Auntie Bernice Hookey
Bernice is a proud Waanyi Jibardi and Muruwarri Mukatinj woman, connected to and descending from her ancestors’ lineage in the Lower Gulf of Carpentaria and Northern NSW. She is a fierce mother to two amazing sons and a devoted fur mum.
As a cycle-breaker and passionate advocate for generational equity, Bernice has received multiple awards in Indigenous Leadership Excellence, both nationally and globally. Her achievements highlight her commitment to achieving leading capabilities and driving systemic change and leadership responsibility for First People.
Bernice’s work focuses on strengthening the empowerment of individuals through unique and tailored program delivery in a culturally safe environment. She is dedicated to w