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Communities of practice

Communities of practice

Common style questions: inclusive language - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Are the terms ‘First Nations Australians’ and ‘First Australians’ interchangeable? I’m not sure from what I’ve read in the new manual whether they mean the same thing/apply in the same way.
Style Manual response
It’s true the manual is not prescriptive about the broadest term that groups both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples together. You will notice that the page does not use ‘First Nations Australians’, ‘First Australians’ or ‘First Nations peoples’ consistently. This is deliberate.

The intent of the guidance is that organisations seek and adopt advice from First Australians themselves. Those broad terms might not be interchangeable to some individuals or communities.

If your organisation obtains advice to use an alternative term to refer to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples together, then the guidance in Style Manual suggests you defer to that advice – where it comes from First Nations peoples.

DTA actively sought advice for this topic in Style Manual, and designed the process for authoring based on recommendations from the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, and with reference to Australian Council for the Arts Protocols for producing Indigenous Australian writing .

The lead author for this page is someone who identifies as a Murri person. The guidance was reviewed and adapted to incorporate feedback from the National Indigenous Australians Agency, the Torres Strait Regional Authority and Reconciliation Australia.

Each stakeholder recognises the diversity of culture, language and perspectives – and we have taken care to promote engagement with communities and individuals, on language, content development and style matters.

The guidance all stakeholders wanted to convey is that it is respectful to consult with relevant communities and individuals about the language and terms they use for themselves. Importantly, it suggests that respectful language uses specific terms over broad terms.

DTA will continue to engage broadly on this topic when and as it is reviewed.