Four years ago I moved from Central Australia, to study at university in Melbourne. I was astounded when my new friends started to ask me questions about my Aboriginality, wanting to understand and learn from my lived experience. What was culture like back home in Central Australia? What was it like being a Kaytetye woman in modern society? And how could you have blonde hair, fair skin, and a connection to country?
I shared my knowledge. I am a woman whose great-grandmother watched her whole family massacred before her. I am a woman with a whole community of extended family, with reciprocal kinship obligations that will look after me no matter what. I am a woman with 65,000 years of ancestral knowledge that I must learn and pass on to the next generation.
This knowledge was something few people had heard before. It’s not written in textbooks and it’s rarely shared online. They were yearning for knowledge. They didn’t know it, but simply by asking, my friends showed me immense kindness. They also created a space where I felt my culture was valued, and my identity embraced by others.
Kindness, is taking the time to understand someone’s perspective. It’s taking the time to understand where someone comes from, the cultures that inform their identity and the lived experiences that shape their world-view. Kindness is creating a space where individuals and communities feel that their culture is appreciated and celebrated by those from other backgrounds.
It was in these moments in Melbourne that I realised that the people and cultures I knew so well back home, were completely foreign to so many Australians, but many wanted to know more. We had to change that.
So, I created Common Ground, an online space dedicated to sharing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, history and lived experiences. Through written and video content both original and curated, Common Ground shares oral history, songlines, and learning resources that allow every Australian to access knowledge and show kindness through embracing our ancient culture and diversity. Knowledge transforms people, builds understanding, appreciation and a sense of value for people with a different culture and perspective of your own.
I share this knowledge as an act of kindness, because people can’t grow unless we are open to sharing. I share this knowledge to allow people to take a proactive step in displaying kindness and empathy for other cultures.
In Australia, we’re lucky to have the oldest continuing cultures on earth. It brings me great strength and pride to carry one of those cultures as a Kaytetye woman. My hope and belief is that it’s something all Australians can be proud of, and that we can create a united Australia, where we embrace and celebrate our First Australians.
A simple act of kindness is to put yourself forward to learn a little more. Take the time to learn about the people, perspectives, culture, and history of the people that have been patiently reaching out for reconciliation for years. To write the next chapter in our country’s history we need a deeper understanding of one another, and of our past.
Kaytetye Woman, Storyteller & Magic Maker ✨
Rona pitches Common Ground at Parliament House: “Kindness, is taking the time to understand someone’s perspective.”