Being Better Indigenous Allies: A Food For Thought Event Report

By Luke Stickels October 18, 2017

Being Better Indigenous Allies - Food For Thought Melbourne

It’s fair to say this photo depicts a) the awesome presence of kids muckin’ about (Food for Thought is a family-friendly program!), mixed with b) the release of some fraught self-consciousness as we made our way together through so many legitimate dilemmas regarding how to start a journey towards being better Indigenous allies.

A big part of the night was recognising the intractable nature of the problem: that sovereignty was never ceded, that Australia was never Terra Nullius, there’s no consensus for how to address Colonial violence, and that we are inextricably part of the problem when well-meaning non-First Nations people decide to “help”. Local issues, acknowledgment of difference and diversity, forging ahead in respectful, compassionate ignorance.

We were determined that this would be a starting recognition, not a reason to bail out, leave to another group, another generation, and otherwise contribute to cultural paralysis where no one feels able to take restitutive, practical action. A desire to see Greens branches and offices do more in this space was a consensus opinion. We discussed mixed views about 2-edged swords like, “Let’s wait for First Nations communities to lead on this.”

Both in our West Footscray Melbourne meeting, and a parallel meeting in O’Connor, ACT, I have to thank our hosts and attendees for being sincere, humble, self-aware and prepared to confront and share tough experiences and feelings. That said, we agreed a single conversation is absolutely inadequate.

So: we’re starting a book club to help address our collective cultural ignorance (fb.com/groups/decolonizingsolidaritybookclub — who’s joining us? Where are you located?).

We’re finding out about the state of various Reconciliation Plans in the Greens and other organisations we’re part of.

We’re committing to local relationships and activities through our branches, pledging to be persistent and consistent.

There are so many great First Nations-led organisations we can connect with, just in Melbourne: the Koori Trust, Reconciliation Australia, and university Indigenous engagement units.

We sourced some ideas for some kind of “Allies Charter”, offering some principles to follow for being a respectful and productive ally. We’re looking forward to asking the Vic Black Greens to help us get on track.

Let’s have your suggestions! Be part of an important conversation, and let’s put some good ideas into practice together.

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