Empowering Indigenous Voices: Katie Kiss Takes the Helm as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

Amidst the dynamic landscape of Australia’s Indigenous rights movement, a shining beacon of hope emerges with the appointment of Katie Kiss as the incoming Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

Hailed as a champion for Indigenous rights, Kiss, a proud Kaanju and Birri/Widi woman, is set to officially embark on her transformative journey on April 3, leaving behind a legacy of empowerment and advocacy in her wake.

Born and raised on the lands of the Darumbal People in Rockhampton, Central Queensland, Kiss’s roots run deep in the soil of her ancestral heritage.

Her journey from these humble beginnings to the forefront of Indigenous rights activism is a testament to her unwavering commitment and dedication to the cause.

Katie Kiss is a proud Kaanju and Birri/Widi woman from regional Queensland. Credit: supplied.
Katie Kiss is a proud Kaanju and Birri/Widi woman from regional Queensland. Credit: supplied.

Commission President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM commended Kiss.

“This is a wonderful appointment. On behalf of Commissioners and staff, I warmly welcome Katie Kiss to the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,” she said.

“At the heart of Ms Kiss’s impressive career is an unwavering commitment to promote and protect the rights of First Nations Peoples.”

Kiss’s illustrious career path is marked by significant milestones, each contributing to her wealth of experience and expertise.

Prior to her appointment, she served as the Executive Director of the Interim Truth and Treaty Body supporting Queensland’s Path to Treaty, spearheading initiatives aimed at fostering reconciliation and acknowledgment of Indigenous sovereignty.

Her tenure in senior positions within the Queensland Government, including Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor roles, underscore her multifaceted approach to effecting change at both grassroots and policy levels.

Additionally, her invaluable contributions during her time at the Australian Human Rights Commission, where she directed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Team, further solidify her credentials as a trailblaser in the field.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Kiss’s advocacy extends to the international stage, where she has represented Indigenous communities at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Her involvement in various organisations, including the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and Ngroo Education Inc., highlights her holistic approach to community development and empowerment.

In the wake of the disappointments and challenges faced by Indigenous communities, including the setback of last year’s Voice referendum, Kiss’s appointment heralds a new era of resilience and determination.

As President Croucher emphasises, “The depth of knowledge and expertise the Commissioner brings cannot be overstated… It has become even more imperative for Australia to heal and find solutions to support and empower its First Nations communities.”

As Commissioner Kiss assumes her role, she stands poised to build upon the foundations laid by her predecessor, June Oscar AO, while charting a bold new course towards genuine reconciliation and empowerment. Her integrity, experience, and unwavering commitment serve as guiding lights in the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights.

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