A new campaign launched in time for NAIDOC Week asks non-Indigenous Australians to find out more about the Traditional Owners of the land on which they live.
Most Australians have little idea of the traditional country on which they live, let alone the stories of the cultures who have been there for thousands of years.
A campaign launched this week called Connect to Country is trying to change that, encouraging non-Indigenous Australians to discover “with a brand, old perspective” the land they call home.
The campaign has been created by Aboriginal creative consultancy Creative x in partnership with Facebook, and comes in time for NAIDOC Week, the annual celebration of the culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
This year’s NAIDOC theme is “heal country” calling for greater protections for land, water and Aboriginal sacred sites and cultural heritage.
It ties in with the Connect to Country pitch to non-Indigenous Australians. A video posted this week on the campaign’s Facebook page asks “Where you from?”
“Wherever you live right now, you’re on traditional country. And most don’t know how to spell it. Doesn’t feel right does it?” viewers are asked.
“We’re inviting you to rediscover all the places that you think you know and learn to see them with a brand, old perspective.”
Australians are encouraged to learn how to acknowledge country and how to connect with their local community and language groups.
“Acknowledging country is easy, you just have to hit the right beats,” says Gamilaroi woman and Nine Network presenter Brooke Boney for the campaign.
“Acknowledge the traditional owners of the country you’re on, make sure you say the name right, pay respects to elders past and present. Those are the key bits and the rest is up to you.”
Other tips include engaging with traditional owner events, following Indigenous organisations and supporting businesses.
Bidjigal man Brad Cooke, the co-founder of creative consultancy Campfire x, said Connect to Country was the beginning of a movement.
“For a lot of non-Indigenous people who’ve never been around Aboriginal people or communities, sometimes there are little or no Indigenous friends on their Facebook page,” he told AAP.
“It’s showing them something that they would never see alternatively themselves.”
“There’s a genuine willingness for non-Indigenous Australians to want to engage with Indigenous peoples or communities, they just have a fear.
“A fear that they’re not going to do it the right way. We’re looking to remove that fear.”
Facebook’s location-specific technology will be used to target geographic areas with stories relating to the area’s local Indigenous community.
In the first phase of the campaign, residents in four regions of NSW – Brewarrina, Dubbo, Port Stephens and La Perouse – will be served local stories on their social media feeds, encouraging them to learn more about their local First Nations community.
More geographically targeted Indigenous storytelling will be produced in other areas in coming months.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aren’t one person and one race,” Mr Cooke said.
“One story doesn’t reflect the whole country. That’s what this website and this movement will show.”
Australian Associated Press