The 2020 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award National Winner, entrepreneur and First Nations advocate Cara Peek, is a formidable agent for change.

Story Amanda Burdon  Photos Stephanie Coombes

The Broome arena that hours earlier had been filled with rambunctious, smiling faces was near-deserted when the dusty cowboy sidled up to Cara Peek. The popular rodeo and music festival she coordinates – Rhythm and Ride – was over for another year but he had hung around to help clean up. “And we just got yarning,” Cara recalls. “He told me that he was having a hard time, but that our event is one of the few spaces where he feels he is treated equally. He thanked me for putting on the weekend and said that it gave him hope.

“I’ve also had grown men who rarely say ‘boo’ shake my hand and say, ‘I can’t believe we are doing this’. They take ownership of the fact it is First Nations people, from top to bottom, running it, competing in it and judging it. They see people who look like them achieving great things.”

The list of great things the 41-year-old Yawuru/Bunuba woman has achieved herself is long. Native title lawyer, mining community relations specialist, business strategist and social entrepreneur, Cara has been active from the local to the international level. And she makes no bones about her ambitions – to break down stereotypes, and build the capacity, employment opportunities and leadership of First Nations people. “More than just being heard, I want to elevate the voices of First Nations people so that we are truly listened to; to support First Nations-led and controlled organisations that improve the social, emotional and economic wellbeing of our people,” Cara says. “This will move us forward as a solutions-driven nation.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #142

Outback Magazine: April/May 2022