Transcript of You can't say that video
A transcript of the video You can't say that.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
Yeah, so thank you everyone for joining us. It's really exciting to see so many people interested. I'd like to start today by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land from which I'm calling from, the Darug and Gundungurra peoples. I'd also like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of all the lands from which everyone is joining the webinar and acknowledge the continuing connections to those lands and waterways.
I'd also like to express my gratitude that we're able to share this land and acknowledge that the sharing has come at a terrible cost for some. I believe that we can move to a place where our First Nations peoples and our shared history is acknowledged by all Australians, and that that is a firm and genuine starting place for reconciliation. I pay my respect to Aboriginal elders, past and present, and I extend that respect to all Aboriginal people, especially including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are joining this event today including my colleagues in the RAP team.
Before we get deep into the content, I thought it would be nice if we introduced ourselves a little bit. Today's presentation will be led by part of our reconciliation action team here in the Department of Education. So, that's me - my name is Melissa Hamblin Biggs, along with my colleagues, Luke Allen, and also Cherie Stephenson who will be responding to questions that you might have on the chat.
So, just a little bit about myself. I've been with Education for about six years, and I'm really happy and excited to be putting on this webinar series. We've had lots of interest from within the department and also from friends of Reconciliation from around Australia. Yeah, so I'm very excited, and I really hope this makes a difference for people. Luke, are you there? Did you want to say hi?
Yeah, thanks, Melissa. I'll echo Melissa's comments. I'm really excited to be here and, yeah, I'd like to acknowledge the land that I join you guys from today which is Kamilaroi land in North West, NSW - I'm sitting in Tamworth. So, I'm from up this way, born and bred. Grew up on an Aboriginal mission not far from here, about 65 kilometers down the road called Walhallow. Walhallow was established as a part of the Aborigines Protection Board.
You'll notice that I use the word Aborigines, and we'll discuss that a bit later, but I use that given the title of the board at the time. And that was established by the NSW government to oversee what was called the protection of Aboriginal people and then their efforts later shifted into the assimilation of Aboriginal people. So, we'll talk a little bit about that as we go through, but I'm very excited to be here and thanks for joining us.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
Thanks Luke. Cherie, I know you're probably busy clicking people through, but if you just wanted to say hello and introduce yourself?
Hi, everyone. Yes, I'm Cherie and I work with Melissa, and Luke, and others with the Reconciliation Action Plan working group. I would like to acknowledge that I'm coming to you from the land of the Darug people up here in Dural in NSW. I, too, extend my [inaudible 00:03:29] the opportunity to sharing in this land, particularly being I'm a proud New Zealander and very grateful to be able to raise my family here in such a beautiful place. And yes, I'll get back to it, these hundreds of people who are piling in. So, thanks Melissa. Any questions, pop them on the chat, and I'll be happy to reply.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
Thanks, Cherie. We also wanted to acknowledge the artist who created the beautiful artwork for our Reconciliation Action Plan which you can see up on the screen. Her name is Suzanna and she's a student of one of our NSW public schools at Boggabilla, Boggabilla Central School. Boggabilla is way up near the Queensland border in the northeast corner of NSW on Kamilaroi Country, and her artwork speaks to the themes of community, school, friendship, and family.
So, you've heard a little bit about us. We're keen to know a little bit about you. We're just going to put up a quick poll asking where everyone's from today. If Cherie is able to pop that up, so just feel free to click in there and answer. We're obviously talking to you from NSW, and so there might be some regional differences if you're calling from another area.
One of the big ones that we've spoken about before in other webinars is that in NSW, the Traditional Custodians are Aboriginal people. So, in this webinar, you'll hear us using the term 'Aboriginal people' rather than 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders'. But, of course, we acknowledge and respect both Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders as Australia's First Nations peoples.
So, I can see we've got lots of people from within the department, lots of people from NSW, and lots of friends from Victoria again. Welcome Victorians. You seem to find lots of our events, so we're really happy to have you. I think we've got representation from everywhere in Australia, and we've also got six people joining us from overseas. So, welcome to you as well. If Cherie might be able to share those results to everyone just have a visual.
How am I going to share those with all of them? Done.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
Here we go. We're going to have a little look. We were actually going to do another quick poll. Do you know, today, what Aboriginal Country that you're calling from today? I know, I guess with the working from home, a lot of people might know where their office is and might not have looked up where your house is, your home. So, yeah, I can see that some people don't know yet. So, this is a really great invitation for you to go and find out. There's some advice on our website which we'll share the address of visually later, but it's education.nsw.gov.au/rap. We've got some great advice around the Acknowledgment and Welcomes tab to help you work out where you are, where you're living.
As Melissa said, you know, we do join you from NSW, so it is a great opportunity for you to connect locally with your Aboriginal community and start that journey of learning about the traditional lands and people. It's a great way to establish relationships and start that process of learning about Aboriginal culture.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
Would you be able to remove the image of the results, Cherie?
Yes, I will. Is it gone?
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
Let me try. Oh, there we go. We could all see. I'll just close that one. So, Luke, you were going to kick us off talking a bit about what we're going to do today.
Thanks, Melissa, yeah. This is intended to be a part of a series of webinars that explore how non-Aboriginal people might like to reflect on what they say or how they speak to and about Aboriginal people and the effect that that can have. We obviously know that language is powerful, and it's good to get it right. It avoids the feeling of embarrassment or of people being hurt by what you're saying and how you're saying it. We hear from a lot of non-Aboriginal people that they want to do the right thing but aren't exactly sure what that is.
I guess that brings me back to my point around connecting with the local Aboriginal community and developing that relationship. There are times when myself, as an Aboriginal person, I don't get things right and do get pulled into line around that. Those old Aunties and Uncles in the community are onto me about things as well.
So, don't take that as a reason to stop that process of learning. To start to get things right and to move forward, we need to be open to accepting that we are going to get things wrong. We shouldn't be scared of putting our foot in it and getting into trouble. That's all involved in learning. Don't let it shy you away from that.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
Yeah, I think we hear about that a lot in this space, that people want to do the right thing, but they're also scared of occasionally saying the wrong thing and what happens. I think the real message is that reconciliation is everyone's business, and we really do need everyone with goodwill to be able to stand up, and speak out, and positively influence change. And so, this series, really, is about thinking through those, "What's the right thing to say?" There's some more straightforward things or perhaps more obvious things, and we're going to talk about some of those today.
I guess the thing to emphasize is it's only obvious if you know it's obvious. So, there's no shame or there's nothing wrong with not knowing something. It's really super that so many people are interested in finding out, and we're really grateful for your interest. Also, in our webinar series, we'll come to stuff that there is a bit more nuance around and maybe the conversations are a bit trickier, and we'll come to that in some later webinars.
I just wanted to add, if you've joined our previous events, you'll know that we're not professional facilitators. We're certainly not professional trainers in the cultural competency space. I know that none of the Aboriginal members of our RAP team would suggest that they speak for all Aboriginal people by any means. But, we do have some personal thoughts, and experiences, and some practical advice which we're really keen to share with our colleagues in the department, and we're really happy to open it up to other people who are interested as well.
That's probably a good rule to speak from unless there is ... individual acceptance isn't group permission. If there are people that you know personally that are okay with things, that level of acceptance could develop over time through the building of relationships. Don't expect that that can be applied across the whole of Aboriginal people.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
Yeah, that's really good advice. Today, we're going to cover three things. Obviously, this is the first webinar in the series, and we're not going to cover all the things. We're just going to stick to these three for now. They're kind of, I guess, the absolute basic.
So, we'll be talking about why questioning someone's Aboriginality is just not on, and then we'll go through a list of, "Please Don't" type terms or things that you should be a little bit cautious around. We'll hear a little bit about how not following those guidelines impacts in communities and how using the right language also has a positive impact. It's quite possible that some of the material that we'll talk about today will be stuff that you're already all over and that's awesome, fantastic. It's also, as I mentioned, totally ok if you're learning this for the first time. This is why we're here, and we're really excited, and pleased, and keen that you want to learn.
We'll also talk a little bit about in the presentation, and mostly in the group chat that we'll have at the end, about how you can positively influence change. So, what are you supposed to do when you're at work and someone uses an outdated term, or maybe your loud uncle says something at a barbecue that makes you cringe? We'll talk a bit about what can you really do, and how can you influence change particularly around these pretty straightforward things.
Okay, so, we'll start on the first topic. Why is it really not okay to question someone's Aboriginality? Aboriginality is something that isn't straightforward. It's not about skin color. It's not about how someone looks. This is something that happens quite often, surprisingly, around people actually being asked if they're Aboriginal. It's usually done from the perspective of, "You don't look Aboriginal. Are you sure?" Any kind of that insinuation, that someone is pretending to be Aboriginal, is highly offensive.
Obviously, today, in different government services we do ask the question around identifying, however, that is up to the person to identify. It's not really up to you to make a call on that. If we follow our policies and our guidelines around asking those questions, which have been developed in conjunction with Aboriginal people, we should be okay in terms of asking that question. Aboriginal people do expect that that question will be asked if they're accessing a service. It's become quite familiar now. However, in a social situation or in terms of your curiosity, it is something that's really offensive, and it's personal.
There's historical context around identification of Aboriginal people. That's been used against the community and individuals, and that's a part of the reason as to why it's offensive not to ask that. We've got terms that have been used by governments and by other groups within the community to label Aboriginal people and, as we move forward into the future, we're trying to break away from that labeling. There's obviously the three-point definition that's been drafted by the Commonwealth Government around identifying as an Aboriginal person and that is of Aboriginal descent, that they identify as being Aboriginal, and they're accepted as such by the community in which they live or previously live, where they've got the connection.
That, obviously, doesn't define Aboriginality, but it is a means of asking or people being able to identify in contemporary societies. If you're administering a scheme or a service that asks that, as I said, there should be policies and guidelines around how you do that within your organization. If you do it in terms of normalizing it and asking it as you would other questions around data that we collect, depending on what sort of services you guys deliver, it becomes more familiar and people become more okay with it. I think one of the biggest things is that we don't shroud it in sensitivity and not ask the question, because it could mean the difference between someone receiving the right service or level of servicing that they require and not receiving it.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
We thought about it, before, as thinking about no other group of people in Australia is required to prove their identity, I guess, in this sort of way. I guess the big lesson for non-Aboriginal Australia is it is completely and utterly not your role to be policing Aboriginal identity. So, those questions that you think of maybe being a bit innocuous and not a big deal, they can be a really big deal. It goes to the heart of someone's identity and who they are.
As I've said before, in terms of the Aborigines Protection Act here in NSW, it actually documented levels of Aboriginality. When I put it from that perspective, we talk about half-caste, quarter-caste, octoroon, they would classify people in terms of what they perceived as their level of Aboriginality. Really, that was attached to assimilation and the beliefs that people with more European blood were more likely to integrate into the broader society and more likely to be successful. It was done so from a very derogatory perspective, and that's not too far in the past.
I mean the Aborigines Protection Act was in place in NSW up until 1969. So, it's not a lifetime ago. It's actually still living generations that have been labeled as such by the government. People had to carry documentation here in NSW. In fact, my grandfather, my mother's father, had to carry a certificate around with him to say that he was exempt from the provisions and the regulations of that Aborigines Protection Act which meant that he could leave the reserve when he wanted to and go into town as he felt fit to buy groceries, and get access services, and other things for him and his family.
You obviously see that play out as people being angry if you're asking about those types of things. Obviously, that resentment that the burden of proof is on Aboriginal people as individuals to prove their identity. It's not up to you to do that. Obviously, there are conversations within Aboriginal communities around identity and people identifying as Aboriginal or not, and we've covered a lot of ground in regards to that. So, I think there are processes there for people to be able to identify through their family and kinship structures, and that's the way that it should be done apart from, as I said, if they're accessing services and you needed it to direct them throughout your organization or to help them navigate which services they may or may not need.
Obviously, it brings up emotions of sadness. There's still a strong feeling around that in community and how Aboriginal people have been treated in the past. If you're curious what should you do, remember that it is an area of real sensitivity. Don't go probing, and allow people to identify how they feel comfortable. That might mean that someone who obviously looks Aboriginal that comes to access a service says, "No, they're not." There are also people that have been removed from their families and their communities, so they grew up not knowing who they were and had issues about their identity. So, that adds another layer to it.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
Thanks, Luke. So, I'm just putting up some terms now that are, I think, the fairly obviously offensive ones. I'm sure after what Luke shared you can see why all those terms that are about quantifying Aboriginality or questioning it are really offensive. There's some that are in the category of just being plain rude and hurtful, so steer clear of those ones. Don't use those terms.
There are also some terms that you should steer clear of where it's not necessarily really obvious that they're offensive and rude. I just wanted to, I guess, talk for a second about what it means when terminology changes or to think about stuff as being offensive when you hadn't recognized that it was before. Sometimes you hear people complain about, "The PC police are after us," or they get annoyed because words that they'd always used were "suddenly" considered offensive or not appropriate. They might be like, "Who makes these rules anyway? It keeps changing. I don't know what to do."
I think the take-home lesson or the way I like to think about it is if I'm talking to you, I don't get to decide how you feel about what I say. You get to feel how you feel regardless of what I think about it. So, it's not about being a virtue signaller or something like that to use preferred terminology. At the very least, it's just about being courteous and being polite, but also it really is about respect. If you know that what you're saying offends and hurts someone, it's simply respectful to just use the different terminology that's not hurtful.
Over time, language does change. We know language changes and evolves and where it evolves quickly in our lifetime, we'll have to adjust how we speak if we want to continue being courteous, respectful people. An example that I thought of the other day was talking about women as the fairer sex. Not that long ago, that would've been respectful and even, I guess, maybe even complimentary. Today, it's probably considered quite weird at best, but also it does have a derogatory tone. And so, our language has shifted. We don't use that terminology anymore. Luke is going to talk a bit about this particular term.
[term on slide is 'Blackfella] Yeah, so, you might often hear it in circles of Aboriginal people referring to themselves or even non-Aboriginal people referring to Aboriginal people. Usually it is that, it's an in-group term, except it's already been established between the two groups. So, someone's been invited to use it, or it's been deemed as okay through that relationship that's been established with Aboriginal people. Out of that context, it's not okay to use it. It still carries a stigma from the past and that using of it from a derogatory perspective.
You can reflect on what it sounds like when a non-Aboriginal person uses that term, and think about it also from the perspective of if you had been invited to use that term within the group. It's probably been a level of acceptance by Aboriginal people if you've been invited or okayed to use it, but as a general rule it shouldn't be used.
Excuse me, Luke, can I just add to that? If you have been invited to use that term within a particular group of Aboriginal people, should it be assumed that you can then use that term across other groups of Aboriginal people, or should you assume you need to be invited by different groups?
Yeah, so, as I'd mentioned before, Cherie, at the start, is that that individual okaying of it isn't a general permission or a group permission right across all of Aboriginal nations or people. It varies. It's so diverse in how people receive these terms. Some people might be okay with it whereas other not. So, I think that ruling around individual acceptance isn't group permission should apply right across all of this terminology. Yeah, thanks for that.
So, obviously, another one is the abbreviation of ATSI. We hear it commonly within government departments. Again, grouping together of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people doesn't allow for the complexities, the nuances, and the diversity that exists across this nation. There's so much diversity just here in NSW, let alone and even in the passage that I sit in in North West, NSW and the New England region of NSW. The different clans and language groups right up this passage of country is huge, and it doesn't allow for that. That level of diversity is beautiful and the lumping together of all of those groups just really detracts from the beauty of that diversity. The abbreviation, obviously, has become offensive or insulting from that perspective. It doesn't recognize that level of diversity.
Instead of the abbreviation, you can use Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It's really not that hard to just say the words. Here in mainland Australia, you can just use Aboriginal people. Obviously, you use a level of judgment if there are or if you do know there are Torres Strait Islander people there, you can include Torres Strait Islander people.
But, yeah, just say the words. It's the safest way to do it, and people respect it. For similar reasons, some people don't like the term Indigenous, again, because it's generic and it doesn't adequately describe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It's just, again, a homogenous term that's used.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
The term Aborigine is one that's considered offensive, but it's another one that is often used by some Aboriginal people, I guess, as an in-group word or just as a personal preference. The reason it's offensive is that it's also tied up with being the word that was used in legislation policies, practices of colonialization and assimilation. So, Luke's talked about the Aborigines Protection Board. While grammatically speaking, it's correct, because it's tied up with all that pain and suffering, it shouldn't be used because of that history.
'Aboriginals', when talking about Aboriginal people, is offensive for the exact same reasons. But again, it might be used by some Aboriginal people as a preference. 'Aboriginal' can be a bit tricky if you're not hot on grammar. Using it as a noun is considered insensitive for those same reasons, connotations and links to colonialization and racism, but using it as an adjective is fine. The way I've been thinking about it is if you say something like, "Jane is an Aboriginal," that would be considered rude. Although, again, of course, some Aboriginal people might use that terminology themselves, and they might say something like, "I am Aboriginal." But, if you're a non-Aboriginal person, it's safest to not use that terminology. In terms of an adjective, so saying something like, "We welcome Aboriginal people," or, "This is an Aboriginal sport," that's fine to use the word that way.
You can see how the use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, or Aboriginal people, or Aboriginal person, it really doesn't detract from it, because it isn't dehumanizing. Without that addition of a person or peoples, it can be seen as dehumanizing. There's a lot of, as we've spoken about it, an historical context around the use of that word and, mainly, it's come from that perspective that Aboriginal people are inferior. It really still does carry that feeling today.
So, yeah, I'll reiterate that the good thing is that the right wording is easy. If you want to refer to an Aboriginal person, you just say, "Aboriginal person." If you want to talk about Aboriginal people, you can say, "Aboriginal people," or even better, "Aboriginal peoples." Again, it does build in the recognition of the level of diversity that exists across this country, and that was a really big part of Aboriginal cultures and that really well-defined identity, that Aboriginal people, to add from a traditional perspective.
There's obviously many different clans and linguistic groups across such a huge expansive land, so we really should be proud of that level of diversity and its richness. You can also refer to a specific nation that, "Luke is a Kamilaroi person," or even some people say that they're Kamilaroi. So, that owning of the language from an individual perspective obviously doesn't carry that element of dehumanization. So, people might say that that, "Luke is Kamilaroi."
Luke, I've just had a question. I'm sorry. I've just had a couple of questions come through and say, "So, is it okay to use the term Indigenous? So, is it okay to say, "Luke is an Indigenous person?"" Also, "Is it okay for me to say, "Hey, Luke, what mob or group of people do you belong to?""
Yeah, okay, so I guess, again, some people will be okay with that but, again, there are people that will find offense in that. It's not up to us to really police that. It's not up to us to make the call as to what is or isn't offensive to Aboriginal people, but use that rule, I think, around what I said at first and obviously your own judgment. You'll get a feel around the language that you're using and whether someone is or isn't happy with it, if they don't tell you straight-out that they're not happy with it. Obviously, you'll pick up on the body language and whether they're connecting with what you're saying or not.
I think, from my perspective, personally, asking about what mob you're from is okay, I think, if people have already told you that they're connected or you're getting a sense that they do know who their people are and that they're strong in that identity. However, obviously, think about it through the context of people being removed and disconnected from their people, their families, and their communities through the stolen generation. There are a lot of Aboriginal people out there who don't know who their mob is or where they're from, so that can be a very, very sensitive area, and it can bring up emotions that are very complex. That's something that we really want to steer clear of is bringing up that historical trauma for people and just really using your own judgment around that, and I think taking the lead of the person who you're dealing with is probably the best way to go about it. Yeah.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
We had some other examples of, I guess, those in-group terms or terms that we need to be a little bit careful around. I saw, actually, a big billboard the other day saying something like, "Smoking isn't deadly. It's deadly," which was quite cute and catchy. Luke, I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the respectful ... I guess particularly from people from government providing government services and those kind of those public health messages maybe. What should you be aware of?
So, again, I think the best starting point in regards to developing those types of resources is engaging with Aboriginal people and asking them about what is the best way to go about it. What type of language should be used, and what type of language should be avoided? Obviously, if that relationship's been developed over a long time, there are processes in place for you to be able to do that whether it's through advisory mechanisms or through your own consultation that you've done individually or within your role. Developing that relationship is the best way to go about it, because obviously there can be really nuanced or really slight differences around some of those things, as you can see from the messaging that Melissa just shared with us.
So, engaging with Aboriginal people, and not just individuals but also organizations, is the best way to go about that. That rule that I spoke about, individual acceptance obviously isn't a group permission, so the best way to do it is understand that from a broad perspective. Consult with as many Aboriginal people as you can, and really understand how people feel about the different types of language that are being used.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
So, it's really great to know all these basics, but people might be joining us today who are like, "Oh, no. I've been using the wrong terminology all this time," or you might just slip up and use the wrong word occasionally. So, what does it mean, and what can you do? I lost Luke. I think you're a bit frozen.
Yep, okay. Sorry about that. Yeah, so ...
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
Sorry, I don't know if you heard the last bit. I was just saying, if someone's messed up and they've used the wrong terminology, what should they do?
Okay, so, Aboriginal people are quite forgiving. If they can feel that you're genuine and that you've made that mistake, not through a level of being informed and saying something that you shouldn't have through a level of just not knowing, they'll be really forgiving. More often than not, they'll reach out and they will go to the point of teaching you about what you've done wrong. It's just to really use your judgment, be sensitive, and careful around what you do say. As you build up your confidence, you'll find that those things come easier. Say that you've messed up, and don't try and shy away from it and hide it. It's like any other mistake that you make.
It's the first step in learning and building on your capacity to improve that into the future. You apologize and you resolve that through that learning experience. That'll help you do better the next time. As I said, people will know if something's coming from a place of malice versus just a mistake.
One of the things that I had a chat to Melissa about last week was a pretty high-profile case of this where Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20 was here touring Australia. He'd actually tried to make a joke, and he didn't realize the context of it, because he'd heard it just generally within conversations that he was having with some other Australian people. He got called out on it by some Aboriginal people. They went to the point of getting in contact with him through his management, and they've developed a really strong relationship and this relationship that facilitates ongoing learning. He's really learnt some comprehensive stuff about Aboriginal people, and our histories, and our cultures.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
I guess now that we've covered a bit about how not to be, or sound insensitive, or rude around some of these sort of straightforward issues, what can we all do now to influence change? I know we talk a bit in the RAP space about reconciliation isn't about a handful of people doing things totally perfectly. It needs to be everybody doing a pretty good job. It needs to be every individual in Australia opening up, and there's a lot there about non-Aboriginal Australia just doing better.
And so, we're going to break into groups now. You'll be with maybe four or five people, and the idea is to talk about some of the issues that we've covered today. So, you might want to talk about ... if we're talking about questioning someone's Aboriginality or avoiding offensive terminology, how can you get more people onboard? What can you do in your sphere, in your little world to change how you speak or influence people around you?
It would be really great if everyone could come away from this discussion with just one concrete thing that you can do in the next week. It doesn't have to be a huge and exciting thing. It doesn't have to be massive, just one small action to do better or to help people in your circle engage a bit more with these things, working to create a culture of respect, working towards reconciliation. It's obviously totally okay if you get onto the bigger issues and bigger things you can do, but one concrete thing if you and your group could come up with is a really great starting point.
So, just a reminder, of course, this is a safe space for discussion and learning. As long as you're participating respectfully, your contribution is valued and it's valuable. And so, yeah, please feel really welcome to contribute. Also, keep in mind, that you might have someone in your group who is an Aboriginal person or who has personal experience of facing hurtful and offensive terms like this, so just be mindful of that. Of course, no one has to share anything that they are not comfortable sharing.
So, I'm just going to pop everyone into breakout rooms. We are going a little bit overtime, so I'll give our everyone perhaps about six or seven minutes, and then we'll regroup. So, hopefully, you'll have a little thing coming up now welcoming you to join a group. We'll see you in a few minutes.
Great, so I think everyone's coming back in now. I've just put up that little poll. Did you come up with that one concrete thing to do in the next week? I can see that a lot of people are very excited which is great. I'll just give you guys another second or two. Yeah, so, if you did come up with your thing now, of course, your homework is to be brave and go and try and do it. Of course, if you didn't think of something, that's fine. You only had four or five minutes, but maybe put aside some time in the next few days to think of what is a small thing that you could do. I'm sure there was some really great discussion in the groups. Luke, you were in one of the groups. Did you want to share some takeaways or ...
Yeah, we probably didn't get to the point of actually coming up with something that ... or one thing that each person could do, but I'd like to think that that is an ongoing thing and that there is a good starting point, an opportunity for you to start thinking about that. Yeah, we had spoke probably more about the similarities of how Aboriginal people have been affected across Australia despite the diversity amongst our people. I think, obviously, a key message for me is that there's an excellent opportunity to start this and start small. In the words of Uncle Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly, "From little things, big things grow."
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
That's a really nice way to put that message. Yeah, so you know we've barely scratched the surface today, and our apologies for running over time while only scratching the surface of everything there is to talk about. We are planning on doing some more webinars that kind of build towards being a really great ally and towards reconciliation. If there's any particular topics or areas of interest that you have, please do feel free to get in touch with us and let us know. We'll see if we can facilitate that.
Our email's a really good place to reach us, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find out more on our RAP page and Aboriginal Programs which is an area within the department have a really useful Facebook page which is great for job opportunities and keeping up-to-date with initiatives and other work that they have going on. If you're in the department, please join our Yammer group, Reconciliation Action Plan Yammer group. That's a really good way to keep connected as well.
I've just put the address of our Reconciliation Action Plan hub, the NSW Department of Education RAP hub, and I've just popped that in the chat a couple of times. Sorry to cut you off, Melissa, but there is still some confusion about whether it's appropriate to use the word Indigenous to refer to people as Indigenous. I think the message I got, Luke, was that different groups of people may feel differently, and really it doesn't hurt to just ask directly.
Yeah, yeah. People would prefer that you ask rather than just assume and go ahead and start using that terminology. Like a lot of other things, I think it is courteous to ask and people won't jump down your throat. They'll actually be open to it and probably welcome the invite.
Likewise, with the term First Nations peoples, I think using that term, I think it's quite okay to use that term, but if you're feeling unsure just ask. If there's one thing I've learnt through my involvement with the Reconciliation Action Plan team, it's if I just come forward and say, "I'm feeling really uncomfortable. Please don't growl at me, but I need to ask this question," generally my Aboriginal colleagues will just have a giggle with me and say, "You know, you're an idiot, but now that you've asked let us take you through it." They're really open to that, so really take that onboard. That's probably the key message from today.
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. The First Nations people is definitely an emerging terminology. You would've seen it in other places across the world, and I think it's just better suited to the context of Australia as well. But, yeah, just check in with people. The more you develop those relationships, the more you'll understand, and build your confidence around knowing when to use different terminology. Yeah.
One of the other things that we spoke about in our group is there's lots of podcasts that are available with Aboriginal people having all-around issues that affect them and their communities. They'll often explore some of these topics, so just have a bit of a search around online. There could be a good starting point for people. I like the, obviously, the human element of connection and sharing. In today's world, we can't readily do that, so take advantage of the content that's online. Yeah.
Melissa Hamblin Biggs
All right, we'll actually run out of time, so we just wanted to really thank everyone for their interest in this. It's been really overwhelming having so many enthusiastic people from the department and friends from outside. So, yeah, thank you to everyone so much for joining us. It's really exciting, and we hope you'll be interested in further webinars that we might be able to offer towards the end of the year.
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