How to be an ally this NAIDOC Week, according to a First Nations Australian


“Virtue signalling, kind words and empty promises are not enough, and sustained change requires genuine action.”

Each year for First Nations communities across the country, the first week of July is one to rejoice. Since becoming a nationally recognised week of observance in 1975, NAIDOC Week has marked a time of celebration and recognition of the rich culture, history and achievements of First Nations peoples across the nation.

The week is an opportunity for all Australians, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to come together to acknowledge and celebrate the voices and stories of the oldest continuous living culture in the world. From as early as the Frontier Wars, to the famous 1946 Pilbara strike in Western Australia, Indigenous Australians have a proud history of standing up and fighting for justice.

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This year’s NAIDOC Week theme, Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!, is all about continuing our drive towards tangible change, and is both a celebration of the brave historic resistance of mob and Elders that have come before us and an acknowledgement of how far we still have to go.

And while there’s no denying recent years have seen a galvanised momentum, from the national success of the Free The Flag campaign, to the recent passing of the historic Treaty bill in the Victorian Lower House, it would be naive to overlook how much work is yet to be done.

Indigenous incarceration rates are still disproportionately high, and states and territories are still yet to achieve a ‘meaningful improvement’ in maintaining school attendance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids.

My family are proud Gunditjmara people, and I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by caring and supportive friends who understand both the pride and sensitivities that come with being Indigenous. But I’d be lying if I said I was always this privileged. I’ve lost track of the number of times my heritage has opened the floodgates to a barrage of intrusive and often presumptuous questions about my cultural identity.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is a call to action for our non-Indigenous allies to stand in solidarity with us. Well-intended or not, the onus is not on us. Intergenerational trauma is real, and we will not reopen our wounds in the name of passive education. Instead, to see environmental, constitutional and cultural change, we need to work together.

So, how can you support this NAIDOC Week?

Being an ally doesn’t have to look the same to everyone. First and foremost, it’s understanding your privilege, and listening deeply to First Nations groups around you. Recognising the history behind First Nations’ days of significance is an important step in active campaigning.

A great place to start is connecting with traditional custodian groups in your local area, and finding First Nations-led events and cultural workshops to show your support. Australians Together, an organisation dedicated to bringing First Nations and non-Indigenous people together, has a helpful guide on taking the first steps to connect with local communities.

For all the homebodies, Netflix’s new First Nations Forever vertical features a curated selection of 30 titles dedicated to amplifying Indigenous Australian voices and perspectives. And for the fourth year running, SBS and NITV are turning our screens Blak, showcasing everything from mini-series to films for the duration of the week.

If you’re spending the week defrosting by the heater, consider getting your next winter purchase from an Indigenous-owned business. Whether you get cosy with a new jumper from Clothing The Gaps, or warm your neck with a Ngali silk scarf, supporting Blak designers is a great way to stand with the community. Head here to check out a growing directory of brands we’ve put together.

With just a quick scroll on social media throughout the week, you’re bound to come across a myriad of social organisations such as Pay The Rent or Healing Foundation. If you’re in a position to do so, a donation of any kind is a great step towards reconciliation and allows organisations such as these to provide tangible care and support to communities in need.

As the week draws to a close, it’s important to remember allyship doesn’t stop there. It’s about showing up every day, calling out racism and driving meaningful conversations. There is no longer room for complacency. Virtue signalling, kind words and empty promises are not enough, and sustained change requires genuine action. Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.

Discover a complete list of events happening across the week here.

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