Rachael Hocking is a Warlpiri woman, journalist and presenter with @nitv. Passionate about First Peoples stories and languages
NAIDOC this year felt like it went for much longer than one week.
And not just because I work in black media or live in Victoria where black Christmas is a 14 day festival. From the moment the theme was announced at the beginning of the year my feed has been flooded with stories and photos of strong black women. The celebration felt never-ending at times, and the momentum surrounding the week was bigger than ever before: the marches attracted the biggest crowds, the hashtag went viral, Facebook profile pictures were covered in NAIDOC filters, and everyone had a story about black women they wanted to share.
But inevitably it comes to an end, and it can feel like once again our issues are pushed to the bottom of the agenda, back of the mind. So we need to take action before it gets to that point. Wider (and whiter) Australia, you need to help us harness and maintain that drive.
If you are non-Indigenous and privileged enough to attend our celebrations, the keynote speeches, the panels, the balls, the marches, the BBQs, the family days: know that they came with a caveat. NAIDOC started as a civil rights movement and we must take it upon ourselves to carry on that legacy long after the champagne runs dry at the national ball.
So with that being said, here are some ways you can stay active until next NAIDOC:
This union is currently focusing on fighting the Community Development Program. If you believe in fair wages and better working conditions for our mob in remote places, this is a good place to start keeping up-to-date. Read the latest reports and reviews of the program, get involved in actions – and if you are a worker in the CDP, have your voice and experience heard.
Traditional owners in south-west Victoria are fighting for sacred trees on their country to be protected. Elders told me some of the trees are estimated to be 800 years old and have carried the births of their people for generations. Their fight to save them isn’t over, but it’s really easy to lend a hand. Keep up-to-date on their Facebook page and take part in the suggested actions, such as calling the roads Minister, donating to their Go Fund Me, and dropping off supplies at the Djab Wurrung Embassy.
This week Djirra, a support service for Aboriginal women in Victoria, launches Hidden Figures: a video campaign to bring awareness to the women “obscured from public consciousness”. The campaign really gets to the heart of this year’s NAIDOC theme, and why it is so important that we back our communities every day of the year:
“Aboriginal are not just victims, and they are not just leaders. They are simply Aboriginal women. And for that alone, they deserve to be heard, respected and celebrated.” – Djirra.
So support your local Aboriginal shelter, hostel and refuge. Support the support workers in our community by raising awareness of their campaigns amongst your peers, going to marches, donating money/clothes when applicable, and lifting up Aboriginal women’s voices. We have the solutions, we just need you to listen.
Engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in your events OUTSIDE of NAIDOC Week (and pay black women the same as their co-host, MC, etc.!)
This one’s a biggie. While my social feeds were packed with stories and photos from mob absolutely living it up during NAIDOC, the same complaints I hear every year were also being aired. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples exist outside of this one week in July. Yes, it’s deadly that you had an all-black panel for your talk show, that you hired black musicians to play at your pub, that your keynote speaker, guest lecturer, panel moderator was a black woman. But don’t expect too much kudos if you’re not willing to showcase, and pay for,black excellence throughout the year.
And I really wish I didn’t have to say this in 2018 – but if you are organising an event and you’re involving black women: PAY THEM.
And pay them the same as you would anyone else in that position. I understand some community events are short on budget, and in those cases mob are most likely happy to volunteer their time. But if you have the budget, then put it where your mouth is. I’ve heard too many stories this NAIDOC from women who worked for free, did not know how much to ask for when asked, and some who found out they were being paid less than their male counterparts. Take the stress off the black women whose emotional labour and intelligence you are using by being transparent, honest and fair.