Three Things Most Australian’s Get Wrong About Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People

It’s been ten years since Munya Andrews and Carla Rogers formed their Cultural Awareness Training company, Evolve Communities. During that time they’ve helped over 300,000 people and 650 organisations become more culturally aware and inclusive, through their Seven Steps to Practical Reconciliation™ book, online course and interactive workshops.

They’ve observed over the years that Australian’s are becoming better educated and more interested in First Nations people and culture, but their cultural awareness quiz reveals there is still a lot that most people get wrong!

Here are three common misconceptions:

1. The 1967 Referendum gave Indigenous people the right to vote. 

In fact, the Referendum in 1967 ensured that, like all other Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would be counted in the census and the Commonwealth would be able to make laws for them.

While many people think that the Referendum gave Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the right to vote, this wasn’t the case. Aboriginal people could vote at the state level before Federation in 1901; Queensland and Western Australia being the only states that expressly prevented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from voting.

It wasn’t until 1962, when the electoral act was amended, that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were given the right to register and vote, but voting was not compulsory. Full voting rights were not granted federally until Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were required to register on the electoral roll in 1984.

2. Truganini was the last Indigenous Tasmanian:

Truganini (c.1812 – 8 May 1876) was incorrectly considered by Europeans to have been the last Aboriginal Tasmanian, although she was outlived by Fanny Cochrane Smith (1834–1905). Of course, Aboriginal Tasmanians maintain their culture and identity till the present day.

Truganini is however probably the most famous Indigenous Tasmanian, and her story is one of extraordinary resilience. You can read more about her here

3. All Aboriginal people… (fill in the blanks): 

Carla and Aunty Munya provide a space where people feel completely safe to ask any question without fear of being shamed or judged. As a result they’ve been asked all sorts of things like, “Why are Indigenous people always late?” and even, “Why do all Aboriginal people drive Valiants?”. With over 250 tribes and 145 languages spoken today, it should be no surprise to learn that the Indigenous community in Australia is incredibly diverse. The notion they would ALL be, believe or do the same thing is just as unlikely as the notion that all Australian’s have a pet kangaroo! 

Whenever we use words like “all” or “always” to refer to any group of people, whether they be defined by ethnicity, religion or gender, it’s likely we are making an assumption or applying a stereotype. Next time you find yourself about to do this, we encourage you to take a moment to pause and reflect on whether the statement you are about to make is true, necessary and kind.

How much do you know about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people?

Are you ready to take our cultural awareness quiz and test your knowledge? We’ve compiled a list of ten questions that most Australians get wrong. The good news is, now you’ve read this far, you will get at least three answers correct! But most importantly, at the end of the quiz you’ll get to download a comprehensive answer sheet with a full explanation for each question to improve your cultural awareness.

You’ll discover, amongst other things:

  • The Latin name for Australia and why it’s important to understand it’s translation
  • Who the Indigenous person on our $50 note is and why they are significant
  • A very common word that you probably thought was Aboriginal but isn’t!

Take Evolve’s cultural awareness quiz, download our comprehensive answer sheet, and help us get closer to our goal of having 10 million Australians more culturally aware. Together, we can create a kinder, more inclusive Australia.

Curious about how we can help ignite your Reconciliation Action Plan and create a more culturally aware and inclusive workplace? Book a zoom call below or contact us today, let’s explore what we can do together.
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