Walawanni, I am a proud Yuin woman with ancestral connections to the Nelligen area on the Far South Coast of New South Wales. I dedicate myself to learning as much as I can about my peoples’ lore, art, language and dreaming so I can rekindle a sleeping culture in hopes of one day passing it on to my children. One of the most important characteristics of Indigenous culture is knowledge sharing, however when my Nan was growing up in La Perouse, she was not able to learn her cultural practices, therefore it was not passed down through the generations to me. It can sometimes be challenging to feel connected with my culture when I’m living off-country, away from family and particularly because I have a lighter skin tone my Aboriginality is often questioned which re-enforces feelings of disconnection. Regardless, I know who I am, where my family are from, and the struggles they’ve been through to pave the way for the next generations.
One thing that has allowed me to feel more connected with the wider Indigenous community is engaging with Tiddas 4 Tiddas, an online network which can be accessed on Instagram, a private Facebook group and in a podcast. Kamilaroi/Dunghutti sisters Marlee and Keely Silva created Tiddas 4 Tiddas in 2018 as an initiative to celebrate and communicate the strength, ambition and success of Indigenous women. ‘Tidda‘ means sister, and the purpose of the platform is to establish a safe space for tiddas to share stories of excellence to empower other young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to know their worth and potential. The Tiddas 4 Tiddas community is continuously growing with the Instagram page currently at 72.8 thousand followers and the Facebook group has 2,088 members.
It is also refreshing to read and hear uplifting stories of Indigenous women as the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in mainstream media is often skewed towards degrading stereotypes. The way mainstream media portrays Aboriginal peoples and topics largely shapes the audience’s perceptions. For example, in 2013, AFL player Adam Goodes asked a teenage spectator to be removed from the stadium for calling him a racial slur. During a press conference the next day, Goodes clearly stated that he did not blame the teenager for their outburst but rather the culture she has been raised in. However, in a bid to create a catchy headline, the media reduced Goodes’ comment to saying the teenager was the “face of racism” which was fetching but had extremely problematic consequences. Goodes tried to use his status to make a positive change for Indigenous peoples, yet the media portrayed him as an angry Aboriginal who sought to vilify the young girl.
According to the 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer report, 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples believe media representation of Indigenous peoples is mostly negative. Therefore, it is so important for the mental health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples to have networks such as Tiddas 4 Tiddas that provide a culturally safe space online. I often find myself exhausted from seeing hateful comments online so having a small community to engage with is so valuable for my emotional well-being. By ethnographically investigating the Tiddas4Tiddas platform, I will expand my knowledge of this media niche in a way that allows me to better understand its influence in young Indigenous women.