We know that this is a topic that is being explored and written about everywhere currently, however this is because being a genuine ally to First Nations people is hugely important now and always. It is amazing the volume of support and solidarity being expressed online at the moment, yet it is important that we all take a moment to consider how we can also be supporting Indigenous communities through our actions. Genuine support is supporting all Indigenous people and the issues they face in a selfless way. Being an Ally should never be about making yourself look or feel good. We really have to try and take our feelings of guilt out of the equation. First Nations people only make up 3% of the Australian population which makes the role of allies in raising the profile of Indigenous issues incredibly important.
Image by Alex Paganelli
Here’s a few tips on how to show true support and be a genuine ally:
Always support Indigenous voices. Because the Indigenous population is so small, non-Indigenous support is absolutely needed. However, it is always important to be mindful of not dominating conversations and media. Take a step back and allow the powerful Indigenous voices to shine through.
Be ok with not always being a part of the conversation. At times there are conversations that are off-limits for non-Indigenous people. It’s important to acknowledge that these are issues that relate to Indigenous people and not you. As such, be supportive of the decisions that are made.
Know the historical and cultural context. In order to fully understand the challenges that First Nations peoples face it is incredibly important to have a strong understanding of the history of our country and Indigenous culture.
Always seek consent and permission. Seeking consent and permission is something that needs to be done continuously, whether you’re holding an event on country or using resources, you must seek permission each and every time.
Be there in good times and bad. Remember that an ally is a friend in battle. Genuine allyship is being there all of the time, not just when it is easy for you personally.
Speak out if you hear someone say inappropriate things about Indigenous people. We know how scary it can be, but speaking out when you hear someone say something racist is a hugely important way of changing society. It’s important not to condone these actions.
Take time to listen and learn. Most important of all, don’t rush into action. We must all take time to listen to Indigenous communities and learn about what change they need and how they want it to happen.
There are also many ways that you can engage and learn about Indigenous communities. Following Indigenous lead media such as Indigenous X or NITV is a great way of staying up to date on real Indigenous news. We also encourage you to find out about the traditional custodians of your area and attend any relevant events so you can learn more. Supporting organisations and other groups that fight for Indigenous rights through donations or volunteering is a meaningful way engaging. Lastly, wearing Indigenous fashion is a significant way of showing solidarity and support for First Nations people. Wearing Indigenous fashion shows awareness, respect and appreciation for this unique culture.
The critical part to all of this is that we acknowledge the power and privilege that many of us come from and continue to work hard to create a new system which is equal. We hope this gave everyone some helpful pointers and that we can all strive to be genuine allies to these strong Indigenous communities.