Letter from the Exec

Makayla is a Wiradjuri woman from the Cootamundra/Leeton areas in New South Wales. She is in her third year of a double Science (Psychology)/Arts degree and is the 2017 ANUSA Indigenous Officer.

ANUSA’s Indigenous Department aims to advocate for and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at ANU. We will advocate for issues surrounding representation, cultural inclusiveness, and respect for our land and our people. We plan to organise group outings and cultural walks and tours in the local area led by local Ngunnawal Elders, as well as out on country further afield.

Our team this year is comprised of myself (Officer), Braedyn Edwards (Deputy), Tyrone Evans (Secretary), Hmalan Hunter-Xenie (Treasurer) and Georgia Mokak (Social Officer).

The Indigenous Department’s vision in 2017 is to build a strong base community for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mob at ANU. We want to create a safe and inviting community so new students can reach out to us for support, assistance and friendship. It is crucial to have a sense of community at university, and we aim to provide that for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at ANU.

Our overarching campaign theme for 2017 is ’From Little Things Big Things Grow’, and I must credit ANUSA and the ANUSA Education Officer Jessy Wu for their assistance and support in developing this. ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ seeks strength from movements by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the past –  those who brought much needed change to their communities through small acts, which then build towards bigger movements.

This campaign takes specific inspiration from Vincent Lingiari, a Gurindji man and a stockman at Wave Hill. Lingiari headed the Wave Hill walk off, demanding pay for Aboriginal people’s work and better treatment of their mob. After a nine-year protest, their land was given back to  traditional owners and the fight was won. The Wave Hill Walk Off shows how one act of demanding pay for labour can lead to huge social and political movements of rightful land ownership.

Drawing from this story, as well as community perseverance and resistance to racism, inequality, and disrespect for land, ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ hopes to create a more culturally inclusive and respectful ANU.

Some simple tips on how to utilise small everyday actions to foster respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, promote engagement with Indigenous issues, and spread awareness for Indigenous causes are:

  1. Educate yourself about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and culture. Visit local galleries and museums, or take an Indigenous studies course as an elective – INDG1001 is highly recommended.
  2. Respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in your community. Always ensure there is an Acknowledgement of Country at events you are organising. Include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in panels, conferences and productions, and call out racism.
  3. Support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander NGOs and causes – some causes to stand in solidarity with Traditional Owners include the forced closure of communities and harmful mining and fracking practices on our rural communities. You can also donate to local organisations that support local Indigenous people in Canberra. For example: Winnunga Ninmityjah Health Centre, or the Burrunju Aboriginal Health Centre.