How to be an Indigenous Ally

Educate Yourself

Reconciliation NSW recommends learning and understanding more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ histories, Cultures, Languages, technology and land management techniques. Educating yourself is the first step in the journey towards reconciliation.

When some Australians begin to find out about the true history of Australia, they often ask; “What can I do”. Many people are surprised that they were never told or taught about the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Some people may have to ‘unlearn’ what they might have been previously led to believe.

Top 10 positive ways non-Indigenous Australians can engage with Indigenous Issues.

Shannan Dodson is a Yawuru woman whose family comes from Rubibi (Broome). She was previously the Communications Manager for the Office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indigenous Leadership and Engagements at UTS.

Follow Shannan @ShannanJDodson

1. Read up – clue yourself up about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

2. Engage with Indigenous-led media – e.g. Indigenous X and NITV

3. Go to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander events – e.g. National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week

4. Find out about the traditional custodians in your local area

5. Encourage your workplace/school/organisation to do cultural competency

6. Volunteer or donate to Indigenous organisations or causes

7. Contract with Indigenous suppliers – Supply Nation is a national directory of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses

8. Support Reconciliation Action Plans – encourage your school or organisation to create one

9. Read Welcome to Country by Marcia Langton – basically a Lonely Planet for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia

10. Support organisations and peak bodies to fight for the rights
       of Indigenous people

*Read the full article here

Other resources

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

Read this article  More Australians want to do something to help improve reconciliation but don’t know how

Read Clare Land’s book or check out her table of things you can do. Decolonising Solidarity

Recent article in the Guardian about reading and other ways to learn by Dr Anita Heiss

More to read

Dark Emu – Bruce Pascoe

Young Dark Emu – Bruce Pascoe

Welcome to Country – Marcia Langton

Welcome to Country Youth Edition – Marcia Langton

Talking to my Country – Stan Grant


The above words are from the Sydney Language recorded by William Dawes and researched by Jakelin Troy

Be an Ally

Ngalaya  –   Ally, friend in battle

Act as a friend, stand up for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Gamarada – Friend or comrade

Reconciliation is about respect and friendship

Gumal – Friendship

How to be a good Indigenous Ally

Summer May Finlay is a Yorta Yorta woman, academic, writer and a public health consultant. Summer has worked in a number of different areas relating to Aboriginal health and social justice. Follow Summer @SummerMayFinlay

1. Preference our voices

Don’t speak on our behalf. We have a voice, and we aren’t afraid to use it. Example: This means saying no to the radio or TV interview and recommending an Aboriginal person.

2. Be ok with not always being part of the conversation

As Aboriginal people, at times yarns may be off-limits to non-Aboriginal people for many reasons. Be okay with not being included in everything and accept some decisions must be made by Aboriginal people. Don’t question the outcome of these conversations. Example: Support the Uluru Statement, not the parts you like. That tip is particularly relevant for politicians.

3. Be there for the good times *and* the bad.

A good ally will stand with us at all times, not just when it is easy. This requires taking an active interest in our issues rather than just having a NAIDOC morning tea or romanticising Aboriginal Dreaming stories. Example: Support our art industry and community programs as well as protesting the suspending of the Racial Discrimination Act which allowed the Northern Territory Intervention to occur.

4. Say something when you hear someone say inappropriate things about Aboriginal people.

If you hear someone say something racist, reinforcing stereotypes or being dismissive about Aboriginal people and culture — say something. Not saying something means condoning their attitudes, making you as bad as them. Example: You’re at a BBQ and one of your friends makes an ‘Aboriginal joke’. Pull them up on it. It’s not always easy to be confrontational, but if you’re a true ally, you will push past that uncomfortable feeling.

5. Don’t take it personally when we don’t agree with you.

Understand that a good ally can sometimes be wrong on issues affecting Aboriginal people. You need to be resilient like we are required to be. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and come back to the position of an ally. Example: If an Aboriginal person tells you that you have the wrong end of the stick on an issue affecting us. Don’t push back and tell us we are wrong. Sit with it and digest what has been said. Reflect.

6. Don’t go it alone

Don’t assume you have enough information or experience to march ahead without stopping to check with Aboriginal people that you are heading in the right direction. Example: When conducting academic or professional research, have us on the research team as one of the investigators. In the workplace, make sure that you employ Aboriginal people on Aboriginal projects.

7. Understand that Aboriginal people are *not* all the same

We do have different views, just like other Australians. Example: Appreciate and value the variety of perspectives we bring to public debate. Allow us to air our various opinions without being upset or surprised that we don’t agree.

8. Accept that your experience as a non-Indigenous person is vastly different from that of an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

9. Remember: Aboriginal people need to be the actors, directors and producers on issues affecting us with non-Aboriginal people can help by being the backstage crew.

*This is not an exhaustive list.

*Read the full article here

If you want to take the next step beyond ally to accomplice read Summer’s article

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