Pride in Action Network

June 2020

A message from Murrup Barak


Murrup Barak would like to acknowledge the different lands that you are reading this from, as well as any First Nations peoples reading this.  

As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples we recognise, mourn and celebrate every day of our lives. Over the last couple of weeks, we have recognised multiple key dates in our calendars that have called for reflection and understanding from all. Firstly, we remembered and acknowledge those of the Stolen Generations on Sorry Day on 26 May. We as a community reflected and payed our respects to those who we have lost, survivors and mob who are still currently being forcibly removed. The following day we celebrated the success of the 1967 referendum on 27 May, which also announced the start of National Reconciliation Week. This year’s theme, In This Together, rung truer than ever before due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To keep our Elders and other community members safe, many National Reconciliation Week events became virtual and required new ideas on how people could come together to acknowledge the past. To close out the week, we celebrated Mabo Day on 3 June, which reflected the High Court of Australia’s decision to recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have rights to the land.

On 4 June, Murrup Barak publicly announced our support for the (All) Black Lives Matter movement. We call for justice for the African American, Black, Brown, First Nations, Indigenous, People of Colour and QTIPOC (Queer, Trans, Intersex People of Colour) people who have died in police custody. We empathise and send strength to the protestors over in the United States but also to our mob here in this country. We have seen over 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people die in police custody since the Royal Commission in 1991, where no one has been held accountable for any of these deaths. We call for people of this country to look in our own backyard and acknowledge what is happening on this soil. We call for you to stand with Indigenous people and communities against racially motivated violence and deaths in custody.

We call for unity. Let’s amplify the voices of change.

Murrup Barak team
Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development

A message on reconciliation and action

The global support for the Black Lives Matter movement, the Australian public’s delayed outrage of Indigenous deaths in custody and the wilful destruction of 45,000-year-old sacred caves by corporate vandal Rio Tinto (just days before National Reconciliation Week) have resulted in a long-overdue open conversation around colonialism and systemic racism – leading many to wonder how they can be allies.

If you’re at a loss on where to begin, then a good place to start would be National Reconciliation Week. Held annually from 27 May to 3 June (two significant historical dates), the Week presents a perfect opportunity to kickstart conversations and learning around Indigenous culture, ideas and perspectives in order to develop and understand the issues important to Indigenous Australians. However, know that most of the ‘work’ in building cultural understanding of these issues happens outside the week when learnings are consolidated and put into practice.
It is important to recognise that many people will be at different points on their reconciliation journey. In fact, the University of Melbourne’s formal journey of reconciliation only began in 2008 when the then Vice-Chancellor offered an ‘Apology to Indigenous Australians’. As one of Australia’s top universities, this institution has a duty to lead by example and enable those important conversations to happen in a respectful and culturally safe space in order to challenge the status quo. While the University has come a long way in the last 12 years (and is currently progressing 14 very important signature projects as part of its current Reconciliation Action Plan) there is still much work to be done in this space.
Understandably, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people see reconciliation as a token, feel-good gesture by many organisations that are seen to ‘tick a box’ with no genuine attempt at achieving meaningful change. Therefore, in order for Australia’s race relations to progress, genuine effort must be made by all to engage in truth-telling and acknowledge the shared history of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens. Acknowledging this country’s painful past will demonstrate a willingness to change.
So what can you do?
First and foremost – and before taking any action – consider how your gender, race, sexual orientation or other identity has positioned you in society. Understanding where you are located in terms of privilege will enable you to authentically join the fight against injustices and challenge those systems in society that provide the privileges that you benefit from.
Take time to listen to, read and reflect on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. We have been told what to do over many years, with very few listening to what we actually want. These perspectives will help you identify the important issues, enabling you to offer support effectively. ‘Support’ may mean taking physical action such as attending rallies; it might mean donating your time or money; and sometimes, it could even mean doing nothing! Take your cue from Indigenous people.
Another thing that you can do is to call out racist behaviour, because in all truthfulness, being non-racist is not enough. To make a difference, a person needs to be anti-racist.
Don’t wait for National Reconciliation Week to roll around again. You can start now.

Karen Davis
Project Officer, Indigenous Strategy
Strategy & Culture | Chancellery
Co-Chair Melbourne Reconciliation Network

Dr Nikki Moodie on JOY 94.9

"I’m Dr Nikki Moodie, and I am a proud queer, Gomeroi woman. I’m a sociologist at the University of Melbourne and my area of expertise is Indigenous issues. I want to make a few points about the riots happening in the US and why they matter here in Australia."

Listen to the full podcast (Nikki is on from 6:36–10:27) or read Nikki's transcript
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