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Calling people ugly names:

I’m sorry, what does “boong” mean?

  • I don’t think that’s professional language


Adopting racist thinking:

They are genetically weaker than us.

  • I thought the evidence showed that we are all the same species and that there is more difference within races than between them.
  • It’s interesting because Charles Darwin, who proposed the idea of survival of the fittest, said that the more he observed human beings around the world, the more he appreciated that we are made of the same stuff.

They have an inferior culture – they were stone-age when we came here.

  • But hang on, we were all hunter-gatherers for most of human history.


Talking about ‘they’ and ‘them’:

  • Sorry – who are you referring to when you say ‘they’ or ‘them’?



They all drink.

  • Actually, more than 30% of Indigenous Australian adults don’t drink at all. Look at all the people we work/study with.

They don’t take care of their kids.

  • But a lot of Indigenous people I know are terrific parents.

They are lazy and won’t work.

  • But a lot of Indigenous people I know work hard.

They live off money other people have earned.

  • But a lot of Indigenous people I know are workers.
  • It might be worth considering talking about the view that there is a huge disparity among Indigenous Australians and that some people are doing well and some are really suffering. We do know that many Indigenous Australians work incredibly hard in paid jobs and as volunteers to address the problems their people face



The reason they have health problems is drinking.

  • Come on! It’s much more complicated than that.
  • Actually, more than 30% of Indigenous Australian adults don’t drink at all. Look at all the people we work/study with.


All that money has been spent on health for so little gain.

  • But that’s just not true. For most of modern Australia – up until around the mid-nineteen nineties, the spending on Indigenous health was infinitesimal compared to the rest of Australia. It’s crept up to about $1.17 spent on every Indigenous head compared to $1.00 for the rest of the population. And that’s still way short of what is needed (e.g. Indigenous Australians have 3 times the mortality rate).


They won’t comply with treatment so what’s the point?

  • That’s even more reason for working with people. We must try show respect and to build up trust and knowledge - or we are all just following the same outdated pattern. I think we’ve grown past that. And many indigenous people do follow the recommended treatment.


Under-valuing the bystander’s knowledge and experience:

You’ll learn once you’ve worked with them for a while.

  • I plan to keep an open mind. I can just see from watching TV that there are many successful Indigenous Australians. I thought that one of our biggest professional obligations was to help those most in need?
  • I study / work with quite a few Indigenous people and they are just people and they have good and bad just like the rest of us.


Under-valuing current racism:

But it was much worse in the past.

  • Just because racism was really terrible in the past doesn’t mean it’s okay now.


It’s much worse in such and such a place.

  • Let’s hope so. But let’s face it – Australia has had its share of massacres in the quite recent past. I hope we have moved beyond this.
  • I don’t think we should be comparing or put a value on the tragedies of different people.


My family are struggling – why can’t we get benefits like them?

  • I think there is a significant debate in the Indigenous and broader communities about whether to continue the policy of special benefits based on race or based on need.



You’re not like them.

  • But I am like them

I have friends who are Aboriginal but she’s not really like them.

  • But aren’t there all sorts of Indigenous people? And I reckon that a lot are like your friend …


Undermining Identity:

They are not a full-blood.

  • Does that make a difference?

They are not traditional / real blackfellas.

  • It’s a bit hard for Indigenous people to win this one. If Indigenous people choose to maintain a traditional life we call them backward.   If they adapt, we say they are not authentic.
  • Let’s face it, adapting to colonisation was necessary for survival. Why should we criticise people for it?