How to Be An Indigenous Ally This NAIDOC Week

It’s NAIDOC Week 2023, and at The Latch, we’re reflecting on what it means to be an Indigenous ally.

Historically speaking, Australia was born out of some pretty ugly events. The white Europeans who “discovered” Australia stole it from the traditional custodians of the land who had, until that point, lived in harmony with it for tens of thousands of years.

Since then, that same land has become a place where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been made to feel less than welcome — to put it mildly.

Over the past decade, conversations have increasingly shifted towards discussing the injustice and bitter racism that has occurred in the evolution of Australia. It can be challenging to come to terms with and confront that we live in a country that is born of 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

First and foremost, education is a personal responsibility. Do not expect or demand Indigenous people do the work of becoming aware for you.

Start by educating yourself on who the traditional custodians 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 is crucial for performing an Acknowledgment of Country. This is a simple and important way to recognise the significance of the traditional landowners at the start of gatherings. 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. They are the brand behind the first Indigenous-owned coffee to be found on the shelves at Woolworths. They also sell office supplies, 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 light on the injustices faced by First Nations people by presenting educational resources surrounding Indigenous culture. While allies can empathise with the struggle of Indigenous people, as well as the joy and the celebration of culture, we can’t have lived experience of 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.

Speak Up

Recognise that you, as a non-Indigenous person, are able to move far more freely in circles and situations where Indigenous people may face hostility. This puts the responsibility of speaking up when you hear something offensive on you.

It can be intimidating and difficult; however, not saying anything means that you’re condoning those same attitudes, which is almost as bad as verbalising them yourself. This doesn’t mean you have to get in a full physical confrontation but start by questioning the beliefs or attitudes of those around you when something inappropriate is said.

You can also be vocal via social media and other online communications. 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 was established by Indigenous people for Indigenous people to respond to the bushfire crisis of 2020/2021 on the south-east coast of Australia. Their work is still ongoing. Donate here.

Related: Read, Learn and Buy: How to Show Up for Elders This NAIDOC Week

Related: How to Actively Show Up for BIPOC

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