At the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum back in July, the delegates spoke in length about currently acceptable terminology to describe our unit, our caucus, and our work within the union. This conversation came off the back of several other organisations electing to change terminology to First Nations or First Peoples and a want to ensure that we were reflecting the current wants of our membership when it comes to how we are known.
The Forum resolved that a new membership survey be sent around asking for feedback on what they felt was the most reflective terminology. This was the same process undertaken a number of years ago and members then elected to switch from “Indigenous” – an outdated term that and many felt a Howardesque erasure of the two distinct groups of this country for the purposes of white convenience. However, times and community wishes change. It is therefore imperative to ensure that if the NTEU does indeed wish to lay claim to Indigenous business being union business, we must in the first instance ensure that we’re referring to this body of workers in ways that are inclusive, current and culturally and politically sensitive.
The membership survey has now closed, with members given various terminologies to choose from, as well as the ability to also “write in” other terminologies if their preferences were not reflected in the choices. We are proud to announce that after receiving a response rate of over a third of the national membership, the preference was resoundingly to remain with “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander”. We’d like to thank all who participated in this survey.
What this means for the NTEU is the following:
- That the current Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander caucus logo that has been updated to remove “A&TSI” should be used where appropriate, particularly when calling locally-based member meetings or discussions;
- That the NTEU should use “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander” in all communications, collective agreements, member circulars, and so forth;
- That the National Unit, the Policy Committee, Forum, Branch Committee Members and Division Representatives and National Councillors are all labelled as “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander”
One final note: as mentioned in the NTEU Policy Committee manual, it is imperative that staff and elected representatives remember that the acronym “ATSI” is never to be used in accordance with the wishes of the national membership. In the extremely rare instances that it is necessary to utilise an acronym, the acronym should always be “A&TSI” to properly recognise the two distinct Indigenous groups respectfully.