My heart sank when I found an article posted on ABC Everyday on bullying faced by Indigenous business owners.
Jessica Staines described social media as a:
…double-edged sword for Indigenous business owners…
Staines goes on to say that online communities are great to “connect, educate and engage”. Indigenous people have a voice and reach that past generations didn’t.
However, all isn’t well.
Indigenous business owners face cyber – bullying
Staines told ABC that she faces Internet trolls. Fortunately, she claims that their words no longer affects her.
My skin is thicker and their [online trolls’] ignorant and hurtful comments don’t sting in the same way they used toJessica Staines, ‘Social media is a double – edged sword for Indigenous businesses like mine, ABC Everyday, 2 June 2023
Cyber – bullying towards Indigenous Australians becomes worse on significant days for Indigenous people, including: National Reconciliation Week, National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week and National Sorry Day.
Bullying of high- profile Indigenous people
Content warning: this portion of the post briefly mentions suicidal ideation. If this is triggering, feel free to stop reading.
Earlier this year, ABC presenter, Stan Grant left his position as host of Q and A. This was after he faced fierce backlash over coverage of King Charles’ Coronation. Grant was allegedly receiving vicious cyber – bullying. Grant is Indigenous.
Unfortunately, he’s not the only high – profile Indigenous person to face cyber – bullying.
Liberal Senator and Alice Springs’ Councillor, Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has regularly shared how she gets abused online.
Back in 2015, the – then Head of Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, Warren Mundine opened up on The Drum about how devastating racial abuse is:
Can I share with you a very personal thing at the moment? The personal thing for me is I am in therapy because of racial taunts and attacks that happened.
He went on:
I am considered a very strong, upstanding Aboriginal man. A strong Australian. I am a great believer in Australia as a nation. But you just only can take so much of this stuff and it wears you down and after fifty – eight years of hearing this stuff all the time, it really guts you.
While I couldn’t find the segment, I remember that Mundine mentioned experiencing suicidal ideation because of racist abuse.
Is this the reason to have the Indigenous Voice to Parliament?
Since last year, the Australian Labor Pary have been pushing for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the Constitution. A Referendum is going to take place in October.
I’ve been torn about the issue. However, if the Voice addresses issues like racist abuse, domestic violence and other issues that disproportionately affect Indigenous Australians, I’d be willing to support it.
According to Staines, the First People’s Assembly in Victoria has put pressure on social media platforms to crack down on racist abuse. If a natiknal Voice to Parliament also pushes for an end to racist abuse, I’d support that.
I think most people agree that cyber – bullying is detestable. It needs to be stopped. Victims of such abuse need to be supported.
If you’re in Australia and need support, you can contact:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
13Yarn: 13 92 76 (for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people)
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (they also have a webchat).
If you are in immediate danger, call 000 or your national emergency number.