Be an ally to Indigenous Australians
For advice on how to be a good ally to Indigenous Australians, we sought input from Summer May Finlay. She’s a Yorta Yorta woman, a writer, academic and public health practitioner. Here’s what she had to say:
- If you witness racism, say something
It’s essential to call out racism, whether it’s racist jokes, stereotypes or negative attitudes. If someone says something inappropriate, speak up. Silence condones racism.
Example: Challenge racist social media post via comments.
- Don’t expect Indigenous people to educate you
Allies know Indigenous history through self-education. Indigenous people are only about 3% of the population, and have different levels of knowledge about culture history. Therefore, it’s not reasonable to expect Indigenous people to educate you.
Example: learn about the impact of the stolen generations by watching Healing Foundation videos.
- Appreciate the diversity among Indigenous people
Indigenous people are not all the same. Differences may be based on age, gender, connection to culture, geography and nation. And remember, differences don’t make people more or less Indigenous.
Example: appreciate that Indigenous people may have different views on the same topic.
- Please stick with us even when things are tough
Championing Indigenous equity isn’t always easy. An ally stands with us at all times, not just when it is easy or fun.
Example: Add your name to Indigenous-led campaigns and share them on social media.
- Promote Indigenous voices
Allies allow Indigenous people to speak for themselves. Centring Indigenous people on issues impacting them means making sure that their voices are heard.
Example: on social media, promote articles, infographics and videos by Indigenous people or their organisations.
- Be prepared to not be part of decision making
Indigenous people live their culture, they experience the world as an Indigenous person and know their communities best. Therefore, a good ally appreciates Indigenous need to make the decisions impacting them.
Example: Ask Indigenous people their views on matters relating to them rather than making decisions yourself.
- Don’t go it alone
Indigenous people should be leading events or issues involving Indigenous people. This means non-Indigenous people need to support Indigenous people to take the leadership role.
Example: If a NAIDOC school event is being organised, make sure you ask the Indigenous person who is leading what you can do to help.