Andrea Mason asks: What if we replaced the word ‘power’ with ‘authority’?

Andrea Mason asks: What if we replaced the word ‘power’ with ‘authority’?

Andrea is a policy maker, social reformer, a negotiator, an advocate and an inspirational leader.

BY Business Chicks, 5 min READ

Andrea is the CEO of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council, an Aboriginal women’s member-led organisation that exists to help women and families increase their capacity to lead safe and healthy lives through service delivery, advocacy, education and employment. On a day-to-day basis Andrea transitions from being a policy maker, to a social reformer, a negotiator, an advocate and an inspirational leader.

Andrea is also a Telstra Business Woman of the Year award winner, here’s some of the highlights from her acceptance speech:

‘I’ve been thinking about two words over the last few weeks – power and authority. In 2015, our Australian of the Year Rosie Batty brought the need to address domestic and family violence to Australia’s consciousness. She shined a light on women who needed more support … but also started to speak up about those who do commit violence against women and children. She was suggesting ideas and strategies around not only holding people to account, but also trying to reach out to a new generation to really change behaviour and to call out that behaviour.

‘We heard a lot about power and control. And in that regard, power in that way is very destructive.

‘Recently in a women’s magazine I saw a list of Australia’s most powerful women. I read all of their stories and I thought ‘what an incredible group of 25 Australian women’. What I also recognised is that their power came through their position to influence society on an incredible level. There were lots of politicians, and people from the arts and business sectors. And I thought to myself, ‘In the Aboriginal community, we don’t talk about power a lot, but we talk about authority.

‘I thought, ‘What if the word was changed from ‘women in power’ to ‘women of authority?’

‘In Australia if you take the long view, for as long as people have been living in this great nation, it has been authority and not power that has been the glue for society.

‘I have seen authority used to great advantage and to create incredible change, particularly in my time in central Australia. It has been life transforming and it has been life-altering for many people. For the desert women of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, they’ve used their authority as women to start an incredible amount of services … All of those services have continued for over 20 years through the incredible and inuring support of women’s authority.

‘It’s time to not only reach out to women to support these services, but it’s also now important for men to start to change the profile of our region so that families are safer and that families are healthier. And I believe that there is a synergy that we can all tap into as business leaders and into the incredible authority that’s already in this place; authority that’s grounded in knowledge to come up with distinct Australian solutions to issues that we all share in common.

‘It’s all about relationships. It’s about me getting to know you, it’s about you getting to know me and making our world smaller. And I believe that if we all do this together, that Australia has the potential to do much good across all sectors in our community.” 

Business Chicks is a proud partner of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards. We love celebrating women doing extraordinary things and that’s exactly what the Telstra Business Women’s Awards are all about. If you want to be part of the action, nominations for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards can be made all year round, head here to nominate a trailblazer you know.

First published in Latte magazine. 

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