NAIDOC Week 2022: Deadly Connections on how you can support First Nations communities all-year round

NAIDOC Week is held from July 3 to 10 every year. It is a yearly opportunity for Australians to celebrate the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is also a time to become educated about the impact that colonialism has had on First Nations communities, and understanding the ways in which Australians can advocate for change in the judicial and societal systems that disadvantage First Nations people, plus respect the traditions and cultures of one of the oldest living societies on Earth.

This year’s NAIDOC theme is “Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!”, which calls for ALL Australians to play our part to support the betterment of First Nations communities. This is an opportunity to amplify the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, advocate for and drive systemic change, and educate yourself on the recognition of their rights and ownership of land.

This NAIDOC Week, Good360 is highlighting one of our members, Deadly Connections, who work to support First Nations communities in Sydney’s Inner West. Read about their programs and what you can do to support First Nations people below.

What do you want to tell Good360’s audience about your organisation? 

Deadly Connections was founded in September 2018 by Carly Stanley, a Wiradjuri woman and Keenan Mundine, a Biripi and Wakka Wakka man who were both born and raised on Gadigal land in Sydney, Australia. Deadly Connections was born of the lived and professional experiences of Carly and Keenan and their deep connection to their community. In direct response to the current mass incarceration and child protection crisis of First Nations people, they created a community-led, grass-roots organisation to change the narrative, provide healing and opportunities for their mob and communities. 

Deadly Connections is an Aboriginal Community Controlled, not-for-profit organisation. Its purpose is to build stronger and safer families and communities by driving individual, social and systemic change through a multi-layered approach of providing prevention, intervention and diversionary solutions, systemic/individual advocacy and raising community awareness through education. 

We have four key programs and provide a variety of transformative supports to those impacted by violence, homelessness, incarceration, trauma, social disadvantage, and substance use. 

Deadly Connections is a culturally-informed, trauma aware, community and peer-designed organisation that places culture and healing at the centre of all we do. Through the provision of intensive, individualised, culturally safe, holistic approaches Deadly Connections promotes healing-centred, sustainable, positive change for people, families, and communities. The foundations of Deadly Connections are healing, transformative justice, radical responsibility, empowerment, community connection, and culture. 

What initiative/s do you have in place to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in your community? 

Every initiative led by Deadly Connections empowers First Nations people and places culture at the heart of what we do. Our programs are developed by Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people.  

The Deadly Young Warriors and Deadly Futures program is run by two Aboriginal staff members who have both professional experience working with Aboriginal young people and lived experience as members of the Aboriginal community. These programs allow First Nations children and young people to engage in culturally-focused and innovative programs as delivered by strong Aboriginal role models to ultimately empower young people to become connected to their culture which we know is a protective factor.

During NAIDOC week, Deadly Connections is hosting a number of events to empower the community including an Elders lunch hosted by young people, numerous games days for youth and a community BBQ. These events bring the community closer together and are an opportunity to celebrate Aboriginal culture. 

What does this year’s NAIDOC theme (Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!) mean to you? 

This year’s NAIDOC theme represents the importance of all people, especially allies and accomplices in the fight for justice and healing for First Nations people.  

This year’s NAIDOC theme celebrates and recognises the long history of advocacy work done by First Nations people and communities to dismantle systemic racism and discrimination that was created by and is upheld by colonisation. First Nations people have continued to be at the forefront of the fight for change and it is incredibly important to honour this ongoing resistance. However, the work of activism and fight for social justice should not be on First Nations people but should be taken on by non-Aboriginal people in meaningful and effective ways for change to really occur in this country.  

It needs to be remembered that the concept of allyship, celebration of First Nations culture and the fight for justice is not one week of the year but is integral 365 days of the year. 

We stand on the shoulders of our Ancestors and Elders who have been fighting this fight long before us.  

What are some ways non-Aboriginal Australians can show up for First Nations people this NAIDOC Week? 

There are a multitude of ways that non-Aboriginal people can support First Nations people not only during NAIDOC week, but every week of the year:

  • Take your time to research Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations in your local area and donate, either make a monetary donation or even reach out and ask what they need donated (for example, specific items or gift vouchers). Dropping off items can also be a meaningful way to connect with organisations in your area. Often ACCO’s also have volunteering opportunities which are another meaningful way to support their work. Find an ACCO that does work that is important to you (eg. In the justice, youth or environmental/sustainability space). 
  • Buy from Blak businesses, there are so many incredible examples however a few include Clothing the Gaps, Jarin Street, Wurrumay Collective, Burruguu Art and Nungala Creative. Trading Blak is a great resource to check out on Instagram.  
  • Deadly Connections also has a range of meaningful merch available on our website.  
  • Research NAIDOC events in your local area and attend and celebrate Aboriginal culture while learning about the origins of NAIDOC and its history.  
  • Amplify the voices of ACCO’s, Aboriginal people, families and communities – particularly those who are system impacted. 

How would you encourage non-Aboriginal Australians to show support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples every other day of the year? 

The above suggestions are relevant year-round. As mentioned previously true allyship occurs 365 days a year.  

  • Continue to donate to and support ACCOs, we recommend setting up a regular donation which provides sustainability and stability to these organisations. 
  • Show up to other events outside of NAIDOC which support and highlight Aboriginal culture and fight for justice and healing, including protests.  
  • Talk to your friends and family about First Nations justice and the ongoing legacy of colonisation.  
  • Support Aboriginal activists, artists, community leaders and content creators. Instagram is an incredible learning resource. Consume Aboriginal-led media for example, Incarceration Nation. Host a screening (free of charge) and request our Deputy CEO – Keenan Mundine as a guest speaker.
  • Expose yourself as widely as possible to First Nations knowledge, wisdom, and truth telling.  
  • Again, get in touch with your local ACCOs to arrange regular volunteering or ask them for ways in which you can help out in a meaningful and practical way.  

Is there an initiative or achievement by Indigenous people from the past year you would like to highlight that may not have received recognition? 

Deadly Connections acknowledges the constant resistance and activism of First Nations people in every sector year-round. Aboriginal people embody resistance and resilience everyday living in a colonial country and we continue to stand on the shoulders of our Ancestors and Elders who came before us and who fought for us. We continue this work for the next generation and future generations. 

To read more about Deadly Connections, you can visit their website or check out their Facebook and Instagram pages.

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