In response to the instances of rioting and looting, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison casually erased Australia’s history of dispossession Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, saying “There’s no need to import things happening in other countries… Australia is a fair country.” The assessment from Morrison speaks to his utter failing to recognise the ongoing police brutality and unfair treatment of Indigenous Australians.
Since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody in 1991, there have been more than 400 more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have died in custody. In their recently launched Deaths Inside database, The Guardian catalogues the circumstances and failings that led to these deaths—as activist and author Sally Rugg pointed out, no police officer has ever been held accountable.
Now, on the heels of Reconciliation Week and Sorry Day, the parallels between the suffering of African-American people in the U.S. and Indigenous Australians in our own country are being thrown into stark relief. Just yesterday a video circulated social media of an Indigenous teenage boy having his legs kicked out from under him, causing him to fall head-first into the ground before the officers held him down and handcuffed him.
According to witnesses, he was simply hanging out with his friends in Surry Hills and no charges have been laid on him. And even if there were charges, it’s been pointed out that had he fallen in a different way, the video could have been capturing his death, rather than just an inappropriate and excessive use of force.
One of the most common calls to action in times of social upheaval is to donate to organisations and advocacy groups. Given the recent cut funding to AbSec, the primary body for Aboriginal child protection in NSW, they’re an excellent place to donate right now. There are also many donation pools that are seeking justice for unjust treatment and deaths in custody of Indigenous Australians, including Tane Chatfield, Tanya Day, Kumanjayi Walker.
In a similar vein, now is also an important time to spend what you can with Indigenous-owned businesses. Adjusting our buying habits to “vote with our dollars” is also one of the simplest ways you can be a better ally, though of course, a solution solely based in capitalism is an incomplete one. We’ve listed a few Indigenous-owned businesses that you can support.
Indigenous clothing brands
There’s often confusion about whether non-Indigenous people can wear clothing with Indigenous symbols on them or from Indigenous brands. @blakbusiness created a helpful resource that explains that while there’s no definitive answer, if you want to, you can wear Indigenous merchandise, ideally with a bit of nuance and understanding. Clothing is a good way to start conversations and these are some brands that are sparking it. Of course, if your solidarity and anti-racism stance ends with just putting on a t-shirt or slapping a sticker on your Keep Cup, that’s probably a sign you should be doing a bit more.
Indigenous-owned jewellery brands
If you’re looking for something to wear, especially on your ears, there is a wealth of Indigenous jewellery makers creating beautiful wearable art.
Indigenous visual artists
If you’re looking for something to brighten your home (or office, whenever we can go back to them) then there are a bunch of Indigenous Australian artists who offer prints of their work.
Indigenous wellness companies and healers
If you’re looking for something soothing, consider that Indigenous healing practices are some of the longest-running in the world. In the worlds of wellness, meditation, yoga so often the voices of people in the cultures they originated from are sidelined. Syrup spoke with Indigenous healer Allira Potter about this very issue. Below you’ll find a few Indigenous business and healers creating and sharing things to help you care of yourself—which is important to remember when we’re trying to care for others.
Earth Blended (Essential oil blends and other aromatherapy-infused goods)
Jarin Street (Yoga mats)
Indigenous books to read and gift on
If you’re looking for reading material, a good place to start is with an Indigenous publisher like Magabala Books.
For specific recommendations, try:
Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe
Talking To My Country by Stan Grant
Carpentaria by Alexis Wright
Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia by Anita Heiss