OPINION: Standing Blak, Loud & Proud against those trying to wipe us out

Jul 10, 2024

By Dr. Jill Gallagher AO (CEO, VACCHO) and Laura Thompson (Founder, Clothing the Gap)

Our people flourished for thousands of generations and lived rich lives with strong spiritual connection to our lands and Culture before whitefellas invaded our shores.

Our people flourished for thousands of generations and lived rich lives with strong spiritual connection to our lands and Culture before whitefellas invaded our shores.

This Referendum was our invite for all Australians to show the world that they acknowledge and respect First Nations people and are proud of our ancient and living history, so that we can all move on together as one.

October 14, 2023, the night of the Referendum, was one of the toughest nights of our lives.

As much as people like to sugar-coat it, more than half of Australians told First Nations people to “shut up”, “get back in our box”, to continue to accept the “status quo” and that First Nations people did not deserve a voice to parliament, or a say over our lives.

The “status quo” being a society where our Indigenous children can expect to live for a decade less than a non-Indigenous person.

A “status quo” where our people are 14 times more likely to be incarcerated than a non-Indigenous Australian.

A “status quo” where our kids are 10 times more likely to be placed into out of home care than their non-Indigenous peers.

In the referendum aftermath, it has gotten worse – it feels as though parts of the mainstream community now feel validated in their racism. We’ve seen some sides of politics pulling their support from Treaty, and others having the audacity to politicise the Welcome To Country.

The referendum result has made it clear that there are still highly influential groups who remain determined to crush and suppress the advancement of First Nations people and culture at any opportunity.

There are governments, systems, and people who have been trying to wipe us and our culture off the map for two hundred and fifty years.

They’ve thrown everything they can at us.

But…we’re still here. And we’re not going anywhere.

Every attempt to make us disappear has seen us come back stronger.

We carry the bloodline of the most resilient people on the planet. Our staunch Elders and ancestors have a long and proud history of resistance. It’s thanks to their fierce and unwavering determination that we are all here.

Our story is a story of survival. A chronicle of a people who refused to yield to two centuries of abuse and mistreatment, and who today stand as one to demand equity for our people.

During times like these we reflect on our staunch leaders and ancestors, like those who led the Cummeragunja walk-off in 1939.

The walk-off was a landmark moment and one of the first Aboriginal mass protests in our history. Families marched off Cummeragunja mission in protest of dire conditions and harsh treatment. It inspired action across the country and ignited a movement that fought for Aboriginal Communities’ rights. The Cummeragunja Mob stood up for better conditions. That was self-determination- that was resistance.

When the Aboriginal missions were abruptly shut down and the Victorian ‘Half Cast’ Act expelled Aboriginal people of mixed descent, families and communities were torn apart causing distress and leading to protests. Aboriginal people were left homeless, and many tried to pick up the pieces settling in Fitzroy and Collingwood, that was resistance.

We’re two fighting Gunditjmara women. We didn’t grow up on Country, we both grew up in Collingwood and Fitzroy.

The Black Mile or Dirty Gertie, as Gertrude Street used to be called, wasn’t the “coolest street in the world” that it is now. We were poor, we struggled, and it was tough – but it was home.

Our families organised themselves, looked after one another and an Aboriginal Community emerged in the heart of Fitzroy. This was also the place where many of the first Aboriginal organisations in the country were born – that was resistance.

First Nation’s people are today’s resistance. By maintaining our kinship connection and embracing our culture, you are making a difference. By just surviving – that’s resistance. Mobs of all ages across the continent are keeping the fire burning by being Blak, Loud, and Proud.

First Nations people are only 2-3 percent of the Australian population.

We need non-Indigenous people in our corner, to learn the true history of this country, to call it out and to stand up and walk alongside us to fight for First Nations justice.

Australia doesn’t have to fear First Nations equal rights.

If Indigenous Communities win, all Australians win.

We have over 65,000 years of rich culture. The oldest living culture in the world. A culture everyone can be proud of.

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture can be a gift to this Country, and a gift to all Australians.

We’d like to finish by paying tribute to our ancestors, our Elders, and our staunch leaders for championing Aboriginal rights and paving the way for us to follow in their footsteps.

As always, we will stand together in the struggle. We will resist hate. Resist the stereotypes. Resist the racism. Resist fearmongering.

We will do it for our ancestors. For our Elders. For our families. For our Boorais. For each other.

We will stand Blak, loud, and bloody proud and we will keep the fire burning.


Also published on NITV as part of their Celebrating NAIDOC Week series.

Media enquiries

For further media enquiries please email communications@vaccho.org.au or contact our media unit on (03) 9411 9411.


VACCHO is the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in Victoria – the only one of its kind – with 33 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as Members. VACCHO Members support over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria, and combined are the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the state.