Changing Perspectives - To improve representation in our industry, meet us where we’re at

Wyanita Tranter
By Wyanita Tranter | 23 June 2023
Wyanita Tranter.

The MFA DE&I Council would like to see an industry where everyone can thrive, feel heard, supported, and safe to do their best work. Let’s meet the Changers who are sharing their own lived experiences to inspire us all to change for the better.

I’m an Ait Koedal and Kamilaroi woman born and raised in Sydney. I work on Gadigal, live on Wangal, play on Dharug. 

A culture of connection and giving back to your community 

After working for a First Nations, community-focused organisation and moving into a predominately non-Indigenous organisation, I knew my new environment would challenge me. A major part of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal culture is connection and, through that connection, giving back to your community.  

In wanting to explore my career further, I hadn’t fully anticipated what it would mean for my proximity to community.  

A few months into my new career, I felt like I had lost direction and purpose. While my work was interesting and I was learning great new things, no aspect of my work went back to the First Nations community – my community.  

Injecting my purpose into my role 

I expressed this to my immediate team, who were able to accommodate me with a pro-bono project working with The Yadha Muru Foundation. Once this project was over, I wanted to explore other ways of injecting more purpose into my role.  

So I joined the Reconciliation Action Plan Committee, something I am still unsure about because all too often the onus of organising, planning and executing First Nations events and initiatives gets dumped on First Nations employees, HR teams or DEI officers. Plus, I didn’t want to feel tokenised. 

Joining my organisation’s RAP Committee and writing this article is an example of weighing up a boundary and how my indigeneity is used to represent any entity that isn’t myself. It can be hard to explain connection to culture if you haven’t lived it yourself; each time I share a piece of my culture, I share a part of myself. 

First Nations people to look up to 

I am incredibly proud to be a direct descendant of the Ait Koedal clan from Saibai Island maternally and Kamilaroi from central NSW paternally, but it can be even more exhausting when you are an outlier. I don’t have many First Nations people to look up to within the industry. From my own experience navigating the education system, I didn’t even know this industry was an option until I landed in it!

So how can we make it easier for First Nations people to enter our industry and feel supported?

For businesses looking to contribute to improving representation within our industry, meet us where we are at.

- Go into universities, TAFEs and schools to let Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples know that this industry is an option.

- Consider the challenges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples face when entering education. There are so many opportunities to provide scholarships, pathway programs and internships to support these students.

- Ensure you have cultural competence training in all teams, especially on engaging with First Nations individuals, communities and organisations.

-  Create safe spaces for mob to come together.

-  Be honest in your Reconciliation Action Plans. It’s a place of growing, learning and truth-telling.

-  Make mistakes, learn from them, don’t repeat them.

-  Celebrate First Nations culture outside of National Reconciliation Week, NAIDOC Week and Invasion Day.

For individuals wanting to engage with mob authentically:

-  Google is free.

- No individual can be an authority on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whether they identify or not. People often think of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australia as a homogenous group. But like Europe, we’re a bunch of different countries on one land mass, with different customs, different dialects and different peoples.

- Connect with and appropriately pay First Nations businesses to provide advice, guidance or services.

-  Celebrate First Nations culture outside of National Reconciliation Week, NAIDOC Week and Invasion Day.

To mob reading:

-  Set boundaries. Think about what you are and aren’t comfortable with, and let your colleagues know when they have over stepped.

- No matter who you are, where you are, you have me cheering for your success!

- Hit me up on LinkedIn, I’d love to connect!

Wyanita Tranter is National Marketing & Business Development Executive at OMD

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