Historically speaking, Australia was born out of some pretty ugly events. The people who “discovered” Australia, stole it from it’s rightful owners and endeavoured to turn it into a place where the Traditional Owners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, weren’t welcomed.
Now that we’re finally starting to talk about the injustice and bitter racism that has occurred in the evolution of Australia, it can be challenging to comes to terms with, and confront, that we live in a country that is born off such ugliness.
But to be a true ally means to push past the uncomfortable feelings and educate ourselves, show up for marginalised communities, and do what’s right. Here are just a few ways you can be an ally to the Indigenous community in Australia.
Educate yourself on who the Traditional Owners and Elders are of the land that you’re on and pay respect to them, both out loud and in daily life. Educating yourself on the owners of the land also helps with implementing Welcome to Country, which is a really simple and important way to recognise the significance of the traditional land owners. Find out the name of the land in which you live and work on, and show a Sign of Respect in your home as a way of acknowledging First Nations people.
By familiarising yourself with the land’s cultural significance, you are acknowledging that it didn’t originally belong to us, and the history runs deeper than what we’ve been taught. It’s a great way to begin to understand what really makes Australia the country it is, and its Indigenous roots.
Attend Indigenous events
NAIDOC week is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in Indigenous culture and meet inspiring Indigenous Australians, so we recommend attending some of the cultural NAIDOC week events that are on offer all across Australia. Going to events like these is a great way to educate yourself and immerse yourself in many different facets of Indigenous culture.
Purchase Indigenous-made and owned products
There are some pretty amazing Indigenous-owned products on the market today, and buying from the artists and makers is a great way to show your support financially. Supply Aus, an Indigenous-owned supplier, is a leader in this space, and have recently created the first Indigenous-owned coffee to be found on the shelves at Woolworths. They also sell office supplies, PPE, workwear, tools and many other great products, with a portion of all proceeds going towards the education of Indigenous youths. By supporting organisations and products like that of Supply Aus, you’re giving back to the community.
Allow Indigenous voices to be heard
It’s certainly important to shed a light on the injustices faced by First Nations people by presenting educational resources surrounding Indigenous culture, however we haven’t lived their experience and we can’t begin to understand it. Support the Indigenous community and work with it, but allow Indigenous Australians to speak on the subjects that affect their lives. Give them the platform and keep your ears open.
When you hear something offensive, it’s really important to speak up. It can be intimidating and difficult, however not saying anything means that you’re condoning those same attitudes, and it’s really just as bad as verbalising them yourself. This doesn’t mean you have to get in a full physical confrontation, or even call someone out in person, but you can be vocal via social media, through online literature and even through conversations had on an online forum. Just don’t let it slip by.
Volunteer or donate to Indigenous causes and organisations
Here are some fantastic organisations that you can get involved in, or donate to:
Healing Foundation: The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to address the ongoing trauma caused by actions including the forced removal of children from their families. Donate here.
The Indigenous Literacy Foundation: The Indigenous Literacy Foundation strives to make a difference to the lives of Indigenous families by gifting thousands of new culturally appropriate books — with a focus on early literacy and first language — and by running programs to inspire the communities to tell and publish their own stories. Donate here.
Yalari: Yalari identifies children who are doing well at primary school and gives them the opportunity to be educated at some of the best boarding schools throughout Australia. Yalari aims to provide young Indigenous people with the ideas and skills to help them pursue their goals and dreams. Donate here.
Indigenous Crisis Response & Recovery: The Indigenous Crisis Response & Recovery Aboriginal Corporation (ICRARAC) responds to the crisis needs of Indigenous people throughout Australia. This organisation has been established by Indigenous people for Indigenous people to respond to the bushfire crisis on the south east coast of Australia. Donate here.