The Voice Referendum and accompanying debate is an important conversation that, as a country, we cannot shy away from. However, for First Nations people it comes with the burden of increases in incidences and experiences of racism. Racism has very negative effects on individual wellbeing, and the wellbeing of First Nations families and communities. This includes feelings of shame, lack of sleep and increased anxiety and depression.
As organisations working to improve and promote social and emotional wellbeing, mental health, and healing we have joined with Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) and 13 YARN to encourage mob to check in with themselves and others. A lot of resources and actions are needed to combat racism, and sometimes that can make us feel even more powerless. Arming ourselves with information on ways we can take care of our social and emotional wellbeing, and look out for others, is one important step we can make together.
You can read the full statement here.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, our connection to culture, country, community, kin, and family are critical to our wellness. There are things that we can all do to keep our spirits strong, and our families and communities supported. Following are some tips and resources to assist you to get started.
- Acknowledge the impact of racism on ourselves and others. Racism has an impact on physical and mental health, and is a source of trauma. Knowing this and be aware of the stressors and symptoms can help us to understand what is happening, manage the effect and help others.
- Being mindful, implementing mindfulness and meditation techniques such as deep breathing and awareness techniques can help us to ground and manage symptoms.
- Staying connected, it is normal to experiences feelings of increased isolation as a symptom of racial stress. Participating in social activities with family and friends and talking with people can help.
- Take care of our health. Eating well and exercising are important ways that we can help to keep our minds and bodies strong. Little things like going for a walk with a friend or learning to cook a new meal are small and simple acts that can help keep us strong.
- Speak your truth. Don’t feel obligated to contribute to a conversation if the content is stressful for you. Feel free to say “This conversation is making me uncomfortable, I would like to excuse myself” or change the subject.
- Culture is strength. Practicing culture through activities like connecting to country or creating art are powerful ways that we can process our experiences in a safe environment and find strength when our reserves are running low.
Below are some resources and places online, by phone and in-person where you can find more information, support and tips.