Do you know what day it is?
It’s probably not a day you had marked in your calendar.
August 9th is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, as first proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly over 21 years ago. Conceived to protect and promote the rights of the indigenous population around the world, it’s a day to review the state of indigenous health and prosperity at a global standpoint, and set goals for ongoing improvement.
But, perhaps more importantly, it’s a day to highlight the awesome achievements and contributions of indigenous people to our society and culture, and promote our rising indigenous talent.
It’s no secret Australia’s indigenous people have suffered a dark history. And, while we must continue to acknowledge the deep emotional pain and cultural trauma our indigenous people have experienced, we must also fiercely celebrate how far we’ve come (or in fact, how far our indigenous have come in spite of all their obstacles).
Granted, there is a long way to go to in our journey of reconciliation and equality, but if we’re to heed the call of our national anthem, the objective should always be one of progress.
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia fair.
We must continuously ask ourselves each year if are we are inching that little bit closer to a more beautiful, inclusive and proud Australia. Are we advancing?
The aboriginal people of Australia need our ongoing support and encouragement, particularly aboriginal youths, to help them overcome the social and economic barriers that persist as a consequence of our tainted history.
And the more we bridge the gap, the more we need to focus on the light, and not the darkness we are leaving behind. The light in this case being the shining role models of indigenous Australia.
On that note, let’s take a moment to celebrate some truly positive indigenous Australian figures and influencers who are exceeding or have left their mark in sports, politics, and the arts.
This year Linda Burney, a Wiradjuri woman, became the first Aboriginal woman to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives. In fact, the former New South Wales deputy Labor leader became the first Aboriginal person to serve in the NSW Parliament.
28 year old cricket star Josh Lalor has already played four first-class matches for NSW. Lalor is on board with the push for Cricket Australia to encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys and girls to get involved with the sport. A recent report, “For the Love of the Game,” highlighted the crucial role mentors and family leaders have in influencing young indigenous kids to embrace cricket, and with the enormous benefit it can have on their wellbeing, let’s hope more do.
Gifted Mauboy is a true example of what can happen when you give young indigenous Australians an opportunity to nurture their talent. A vocal powerhouse, the Australian singer, songwriter and actress is also an ambassador for The Indigenous Literacy Foundation, which raises funds to increase literacy levels in remote Indigenous communities. Despite her international success, Mauboy has maintained that down-to-earth Aussie charm and humour that makes her so lovable.
If you’re a footy fan, you’ve likely heard of Michael Long. The Essendon Football star played from 1989 to 2001 and won the Norm Smith Medal in 1993. Long’s played a huge role in highlighting racial abuse in the sport and instigating the racial abuse code that was adopted by the AFL in the 1990s. Following his retirement, Long’s campaigning has put the issues of his people back on the national agenda.
You’d know her face already from Love Child and Redfern Now, but the young indigenous woman is about to become a lot more recognisable following her Logie win for Most Popular New Talent. In her acceptance speech the brave actress spoke out about the lack of diversity in in Australian film and TV. “Put more beautiful people of colour on TV, and connect viewers in ways that transcend race and unite us,” she said. “That’s the real team Australia.” Well said Miranda.
While the stunning big brown-eyed Samantha Harris has always preferred to keep more of a low profile, when it comes to inspiring impressionable young Indigenous girls, the exotic model is vocal about her receptiveness to being a role model and runway model wrapped in one gorgeous package. Harris, whose twitter bio reads “Indigenous Model living my dreams one day at a time” has shown that even if you were a “painfully shy” child classed as a homebody, with persistence and hard work, you can still grow to shine on the global stage.
This is just a snapshot of the indigenous talent in Australia. There are numerous and incredible individuals working hard to be heard, to make a different, and to represent the Australian people in all forms.
Lets take today to acknowledge all indigenous people; the sacrifices they’ve made, the battles they’ve fought and continue to fight, and the successes they’ve seen. Lets celebrate the world’s indigenous people in all of their glory!