The team at AATIS would like to acknowledge and pay respect to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of this land, the waterways and the skies across Australia. We thank you for sharing and for caring for the land on which we are able to live and learn. We pay our respects to elders past and present, and we share our friendship and our kindness. We recognise and support the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
As the new year commences, a new leaf turns, and the start of another chapter begins. As Australians, it is important we take a step back and acknowledge the traditional owners on the land we live, grow and learn on.
An ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ is an opportunity to show respect, admiration and acknowledgement to First Nations Peoples. It can be performed by an Indigenous or non-Indigenous person and is often presented at the beginning of an event, ceremony, meeting or formal gathering.
It is important that we take time to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land as “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders continue to experience exclusion, discrimination and oppression, and have since the invasion of this country.” Georgia Mae Capocchi-Hunter.
There are a lot of ways we can support Aboriginal culture, and it is important we do. A few ways include:
Be aware and raise awareness
The first step to acknowledging our First Nations People is to be aware of the culture struggles they have faced since colonisation. Here are some key statistics to get you started on your awareness journey:
- The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander go back to at least 50,000 years. Some argue that it is longer than that and closer to 65,000 years making it the oldest living culture.
- Between one in three and one in 10 indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities between 1910 and 1970. The impact of the stolen generation is still felt today, educate yourself on the stolen generation here.
- The precise number of Australian Indigenous languages is unknown, but according to the National Indigenous Languages Survey, it was thought that when colonists arrived, there were over 250 languages. In recent times, 100 of those languages became unspoken, and the rest are highly endangered. [More info]
- Dream time refers to the Indigenous understanding of the world's creation. It is a continuing story that never ends. Unlike other religions, Aboriginal people do not put humans on a level higher than nature. They believe that some of their ancestors changed into nature, where they live spiritually. [More info]
There are so many more fascinating, and devastating, facts about Australia’s First People. We could link you to hundreds of pages and stories, however a search of google will provide you with many resources.
Donate when possible
Although it may not seem like much, just $5 or $10 dollars can make a massive difference for others. Do some research into Indigenous foundations, and make sure you support them where you can. Here are some examples of charities doing awesome work for the Aboriginal community:
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Alliance (NATSIWA)
- Reconciliation Australia
- The Kathy Freeman Foundation (Education Changes Lives
There are SO many foundations, just look around!
Read authentic Aboriginal books & educate yourself!
By reading Aboriginal literature we can educate ourselves on stories, traditions and all aspects of Indigenous life. It also gives us a chance to support Indigenous authors.
It is important that Australians educate themselves around First Nations culture, so that we can speak without offence and understand the actions of others. It is also incredibly important to share what you have learnt with those around you, the more people educated and aware, the better!
Attend & Promote Aboriginal Events
By attending and supporting Aboriginal events (when appropriate), you are able to respectfully immerse yourself into their culture and learn stories and practices from First Nation Peoples themselves. Events can be found online or in newsletters/papers. Throughout NAIDOC week is a great time to attend events either online or in person, and event information can easily be found on their website. https://www.naidoc.org.au/
We all have power right in our hands these days, by promoting an event on social media, sending someone a text, or even just passing on a message through word of mouth, we are able to grow Indigenous support.
Buy from Indigenous Brands
This is an awesome way to give back to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and give funds to Indigenous workers, artists and designers. Some of my personal favourite brands include:
There are many ways to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, have a look at https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/ultimate-list-of-things-to-do-to-support-aboriginal-culture for more.
Let’s make 2021 a year of support, growth and change. A year to educate ourselves on Indigenous culture and why it is so important to the Australian land, waterways and skies. Let us build a friendship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and let them know how thankful we are to live on their land.
“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.”
– Australian Aboriginal Proverb