We have recently received advice that the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Linda Burney MP, has a preference to use the term ‘First Nations people’ when referring to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In line with the 2022 Reconciliation Week theme of Be Brave and Make a Change, here are some tips to start making the change.
Be consistent – The preference is to use ‘First Nations people’, ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people(s)’, or ‘Indigenous Australians’. Choose one and stay consistent, including in data tables and graphs.
Use capital letters, it’s a noun – First Nations, Aboriginal Australian, Indigenous Australian, Torres Strait Islander. When referencing to Elders, capitalise the ‘E’ as it is a title. Capital letters also apply to Native Title, Traditional Owners, Custodians and Culture.
Avoid acronyms or shortening words – Always use the full words. Acronyms or shortened versions are considered offensive. The only time you can use an acronym is if it’s a part of a recognised organisation name such as AIATSIS.
Use traditional place names where possible – If you are not sure of the traditional place name (for example ‘Palawa’ or “Gadigal’), visit the AIATSIS Map of Indigenous Australia.
Terminology can change over time and, where possible, it is best practice to find out what the preferred term is from the respective Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander group or individual you are referring to. For further guidance, please see the Australian Government Style Guide.