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Resources to be an ally for First Nations justice

The theme of National Reconciliation Week 2022 is “Be Brave. Make Change.”

Non-First Nations settlers who make up the majority of the Australian population need to support Indigenous struggles and act in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

There is no justice without First Nations justice. To heal Country and move towards justice, truth and equality, we must stand up and speak out in support of First Nations calls. We must listen, learn, and take action.

One of the best ways to be a better ally to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is to read, watch and learn from First Nations voices.

There are so many excellent resources out there to help you educate yourself and celebrate First Nations culture, stories and history.

Here are some good places to get started:

IndigenousX

IndigenousX is a 100% Indigenous-owned and operated media, consultancy, and training organisation. It showcases and celebrates Indigenous diversity and upholds Indigenous knowledge, voices and ways of being. A different First Nations person or organisation takes over IndigenousX Twitter every week — follow it to listen and learn.

NITV

NITV is a free-to-air channel, radio and news site made by, for, and about Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people. It champions the stories and experiences of First Nations people. Don’t miss the nightly NITV news, drama night, movie night, natural history documentaries and Bamay birds eye view of some incredible landscapes.

Learn about your local Indigenous community

Being a better ally means understanding and learning about the Traditional Custodians of the land you are on or visiting. Reach out to your local council or visit the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association (for Victoria), or the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc (for NSW).

Working with us, not for us: strategies for being a better ally to First Nations people

This Conversation article outlines some important strategies for being a good ally with First Nations Peoples and communities — written by Kelly Menzel, a First Nations woman living on Kombumerri Country, and Richard Matthews, a Canadian white male settler living on the lands of the Minjungbal people of the Bundjalung Nation.

AIATSIS’ Map of Indigenous Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia is made up of so many different and distinct groups, each with their own culture, customs, language and laws. Keep this map of Indigenous Australia handy to know whose Country you are on and to learn more about the language, social and nation groups of Aboriginal Australia.

20 actions for reconciliation

Reconciliation Australia have compiled 20 actions to move from safe to brave. Actions include:

  • Calling out racism
  • Buying from First Nations businesses
  • Caring for Country
  • Defending Land Rights and Native Title
  • Challenging our leaders to take action on justice

 

Seven resources on being a good ally to First Nations struggles

How to be a good Indigenous ally by Yorta Yorta woman, academic, writer and public health consultant, Dr. Summer May Finlay. 

Top 10 positive ways non-Indigenous Australians can engage with Indigenous Issues by Yawuru woman Shannan Dodson.

Where do you fit? Tokenistic, ally or accomplice? by Yorta Yorta woman, Dr. Summer May Finlay.

Share our Pride will give you a glimpse if how life looks from and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective.

More Australians want to do something to help improve reconciliation but don’t know how on what reconciliation means – by ABC News.

Decolonising Solidarity: Dilemmas and Directions for Supporters of Indigenous Struggles by Clare Land.

The surge in sales of Indigenous books is heartening but education takes many forms, by Anita Heiss in the Guardian.

 

Films are another great way to learn more about First Nations stories

A personal documentary and an essential portrait of Australian youth. Follow Dujuan, an inquisitive young Arrernte/Garrwa boy who speaks three languages, understands his Aboriginal culture and loves his country. Dujuan has an obvious spark and intelligence, and seems to have a happy future in Alice Springs, but despite all of this he is ‘failing’ at school. As he faces increasing scrutiny from welfare and police, Dujuan’s family fight to keep him safe and battle to give him a strong Arrernte education alongside his western schooling.

Watch In my blood it runs

Did you know the removal of Indigenous children from their families has increased at an exponential rate since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered the apology to the ‘stolen generations’ in 2008? After the Apology follows four grandmothers who begin a national movement to tackle the removal of children and the rising number of Indigenous children in out-of-home care by involving their extended families.

Watch After the apology

Australia was founded by the British with one clear purpose – to create a prison colony. We’ve continued to be one ever since. Incarceration Nation is a story of strength and resistance in the face of racism and oppression. The film lays bare the story of the continued systemic injustice and oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on their own land, told by Indigenous Australians.

Watch Incarceration Nation

The Southern Cross is the most famous constellation in the southern hemisphere. Ever since colonisation it’s been claimed, appropriated and hotly-contested for ownership by a radical range of Australian groups. But for Aboriginal people the meaning of this heavenly body is deeply spiritual. And just about completely unknown. For a start, the Southern Cross isn’t even a cross – it’s a totem that’s deeply woven into the spiritual and practical lives of Aboriginal people.

Watch We don’t need a map

 

Some more recommended reading

Tony Birch, Ghost River (University of Queensland Press, 2015

Chelsea Watego, Another Day in the Colony (University of Queensland Press, 2021)

Irene Watson Aboriginal Peoples, Colonialism and International Law: Raw Law (Routledge, 2016)

Kevin Gilbert, Because a White Man’ll Never Do It (Angus and Robertson, 1973)

Sean Brennan et al, Treaty (Federation Press, 2005)

Langton et al, Settling with Indigenous People: Modern Treaty and Agreement-Making (Federation Press, 2006)

Prof Megan Davis, ‘Listening but not hearing’ (2015) Griffith Law Review

Australian Earth Laws Alliance, ‘Future Dreaming’ 

Anne Poelina, ‘Wake up the snake! Collective wisdom brings nature back to balanceTedX, Perth, 29 January 2021

Indigenous leaders like me are coming with a gift of wisdom… We need to build an ethics of care of love and nature. Indigenous wisdom is the wisdom and knowledge that’s needed at this time of our climate crisis.”

– Dr Anne Poelina

These resources are by no means a complete list, and we encourage you to do your own learning and research.

Good allies are constantly learning, growing, reading and improving.

At EJA we strive to learn, improve and do more to be better allies to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

Some of the steps we are currently taking towards reconciliation include:

  • Working with paid First Nations consultants on how we can better use our work to support Aboriginal communities.
  • Cultural awareness, cultural safety and anti-racism training for all staff
  • Delivering our Reconciliation Action Plan
  • Choosing First Nations businesses as suppliers.
  • Supporting Seed through workplace giving and as a partner.
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