Six ways to be an ally in Aboriginal Melbourne

Here are six ways to be an ally and celebrate the superheroes in our midst. Get familiar with the living culture and Aboriginal history that’s all around us.

1. Show up at NAIDOC Week

Get to know the oldest, continuing living cultures on Earth during NAIDOC Week from 3 to 10 July.

This year’s theme is a rallying call: Get up! Stand up! Show up! It’s our toolkit for calling out racism wherever we see it.

It’s also a time of celebration, so don’t be shy to say Happy NAIDOC to your friends and colleagues.

Immerse yourself in some great NAIDOC events including these, supported by City of Melbourne.

> Finders Keepers Market: browse the wares of 20 First Nations-owned and led creative small businesses, including makers, designers and artists, at this massive designer market. From 8 to 10 July at the Royal Exhibition Building.

NAIDOC in the City: catch live performances from Emma Donovan, Benny Walker, The Indigenous Outreach Projects Hip Hop Crew and Cerulean – Miss First Nations 2021. Sunday 10 July at Fed Square.

Check out What’s On Melbourne for these and more free events, stunning projections and unmissable performances happening across the city.

Two models in colourful clothes

Look for Magpie Goose at Finders Keepers Market


Emma Donovan portrait

Emma Donovan performs at NAIDOC in the City

2. See the landscape with fresh eyes

Did you know that a blue saltwater lagoon once stretched out across what would later become West Melbourne and Docklands?

Or that the high ground now known as Parliament Hill has been a site of law/lore-making for millennia?

Learn about places of Aboriginal cultural significance using this new Mapping Aboriginal Melbourne.

It’s a powerful truth-telling tool that reveals Aboriginal peoples’ deep connection to this country.

Sweeping view of Melbourne from the sky

Sweeping view of Melbourne from the sky

3. Read books by Aboriginal authors

Dive into this reading list of books by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and allies. It features page-turners, high drama, memoir and thought-provoking topics.

You can borrow all the books from our libraries.

Don’t miss Author Talk with award-winning author Veronica Gorrie as she shares her favourite books with us. Thursday 14 July at City Library from 6.30pm. Bookings essential.

Take the kids to the free NAIDOC Week Storytime at the Elizabeth Street Pop-up Library, across the road from the Queen Victoria Market. Friday 8 July from 10.30am. No bookings required.

A man in a beanie with picture books

NAIDOC Week Storytime

4. Get to know the local languages

When we travel overseas, we pick up how to say ‘hello’ and gather a few simple phrases that can help us understand and move through the place we’re there to explore.

So why not get to know some of the local languages right here on our doorstep?

Start by learning the traditional name of the place where you live.

And learn a single greeting in the languages of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Bunrong Boon Wurrung Peoples of the Eastern Kulin.

  • Narrm is the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung word for the Melbourne region.
  • Wominjeka / Womindjeka means ‘welcome’ in Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung.
  • Birrarung is the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung word for the Yarra River.

Want to delve deeper? Victorian Aboriginal Languages Corporation is devoted to preserving and reviving local languages, including Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung language restoration projects.

Big city and river

Yarra River – Birrarung

5. Support Aboriginal businesses

Fall in love with one-of-a-kind art, dine out on native ingredients and turn your home into a jungle of plants thanks to deadly businesses led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Here are seven ways to support Aboriginal businesses.

Transport yourself to a beach bar in the Torres Strait at Mabu Mabu – Big Esso, an all-day bar and kitchen at Fed Square. Chef Nornie Beru brings the heat with flavours from her home island of Mer in the Torres Strait.

Wear your values on your sleeve. Buy an ally-friendly t-shirt or hoodie for yourself and your favourite munchkins from Clothing the Gaps, an online shop stocked with merch with meaning.

Two people look at a painting

Koorie Heritage Trust

6. Take a tour of the city

Wander from Fitzroy Gardens to the Docklands to learn about Melbourne’s Aboriginal heritage and culture, including scarred trees, historical meeting places and monuments. Take your time on a self-guided Aboriginal Melbourne walking tour.

Drop in at the Koorie Heritage Trust to explore the public collection before you go on a Birrarung Wilam (River Camp) Walk with an experienced guide. And drop into the gift shop to pick up artworks, jewellery or books designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

Rug up and head for the Royal Botanic Gardens to learn about significant native plants, plant uses, customs and ongoing connection to Country. Book an illuminating Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the gardens.

Hear stories of survival against the odds and celebrate our vibrant cultures through performances, storytelling, artwork and more at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum. And kids will love the Milarri Garden trail.

Three people under the trees

Aboriginal Heritage Work at Royal Botanic Gardens

Go deeper

We are committed to showing how genuine reconciliation can happen between Aboriginal people and the broader community in the City of Melbourne.

We acknowledge and honour the unbroken spiritual, cultural and political connection the Wurundjeri, Bunurong, Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Wadawurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin have to this unique place for more than 2000 generations.

Aboriginal culture, knowledge and heritage enrich the city’s growth and development.

For more information, including educational videos, audio recordings and other resources, visit Aboriginal Melbourne.