CHANGEMAKERS SERIES | MARLEE & KEELEY SILVA

The spirit of our NEW DAWN Collection embodies change, evolution + collaboration. These fine qualities are the very essence of the 7 women we have featured in this series of inspiring changemakers.

Creating exacting change in many areas, from the environment to art and health and nutrition, these women bring our collection alive with their passion, power + persuasion.

Marlee and Keely Silva are Gamilaroi and Dunghutti sisters who co-founded Tiddas 4 Tiddas (Tidda means sister), a popular podcast that showcases stories of excellence from women from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We talk to Marlee and Keeley about their determination to showcase the strength and brilliance found in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

How did your Tiddas 4 Tiddas platform come into being? 

Tiddas 4 Tiddas was inspired by the 2018 NAIDOC theme ‘Because of her we can!’ That year we saw our women’s voices at the centre of our community’s discussions and celebrations in a way like never before. We’ve grown up knowing that there’s not much better to be in this world, than to be Aboriginal women, but we didn’t often see ourselves and the women we looked up to in our family or around us in our everyday life, reflected in mainstream media. The combination of this and the power of that NAIDOC theme showed us there was a gap that needed to be filled and gave us the confidence to take a leap of faith and do it ourselves. 

 Why do you think it’s so important to have a platform like Tiddas 4 Tiddas?

Often, in the few instances Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are highlighted in mainstream media, they are spoken of with a language of deficit. We are often characterised as victims or statistics, which limits our agency and suffocates the truth-telling around our experience. Tiddas 4 Tiddas is a place where women and girls from all walks of life are able to tell their stories in their words. They shatter stereotypes, feel empowered with each other’s love and support and show the next generation the true possibilities of their futures. 

Your account was the first on Instagram to create a community of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women… What are some of the story highlights you have showcased on your platform? 

This is the impossible question! We love every story we’ve been privileged to share. From a town in WA that had 5 Aboriginal women graduate as doctors in the same year, to the little girl who’s become the first Indigenous captain of her primary school and the plethora of small business owners, of mum’s juggling work and parenting - all of it is incredible and inspiring for Indigenous people and others. 

What has stood out in terms of the response to Tiddas 4 Tiddas?

We didn’t anticipate becoming a place so widely celebrated by non-Indigenous people - the ways in which white women share with us their own vulnerability and acknowledgement of their past ignorance and how our stories made them want to change themselves. That’s a pretty incredible, unintentional bi-product of it all. We truly believe a brighter future for all lies in the non-Indigenous 97% of the population coming to meet us half-way, listening to us and our desires and acting as dedicated allies. 

What changes do you hope to see in Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women?

We want more of our women in positions of power across all industries. We want the whole nation to stop underestimating us or narrowing the concept of Indigenous success to male Aboriginal athletes. We’re emerging everywhere and the structural barriers that still hold us back will be brought down by our excellence and power to continue paving the way for those who will follow us. 

What do you want to share with the world?

Kindness and the power of positivity are at the core of our purpose. We believe they’re the most powerful tools to making change and changing people.