How Spas Can Be Better Allies For Indigenous Australians

In celebration of NAIDOC Week (8th November – 15th November).

Before we could care for the skin of the community, this continent was cared for by the First Nations people for over 65,000 years. It’s them and their culture who inspired several of the treatments offered in spas today, and it’s important we acknowledge this.

NAIDOC Week (8th November – 15th November 2020) celebrates the achievements and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people. Each year has a different theme with this year’s being Always Was, Always Will Be. It recognises that First Nations people first occupied the land and that our nation’s story does not begin with European settlement.

NAIDOC Week is a time to reflect on our history with indigenous communities and also offers the opportunity to look to the future and pledge to be better allies. There are several things spas and clinics can do to support indigenous culture and people, according to Li’Tya Executive Director, Nikki Edwards.

“The absolute number one thing is always to purchase Australian-made products and to support local business within your community where possible,” Nikki said.

Li’Tya is a brand who uses sustainably-sourced native Australian botanicals in its skincare and employs an Aboriginal Advisory Board to oversee these daily operations and exchange of indigenous materials.

“The Aboriginal Advisory Board guides Li’Tya’s interactions with all the aboriginal communities we are involved with, and it ensure this is done with respect and integrity,” she said.

This collaboration is not exclusive for spas or businesses who use indigenous ingredients or practices. Nikki says it’s important to recognise that spas and clinics are built upon indigenous land. You can do this with a small token to show your respect.

“I previously worked for a spa and clinic that didn’t use indigenous practices, but was on a historical site that had a strong indigenous history. We planted native botanicals and had plaques explaining their background and medicinal bush properties. There were aboriginal pieces on the vanity which customers walked past. They represented women’s strength and fertility, again with information explaining their ancient history. Finally, we had a beautiful plaque and statue in the front garden acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, and it also spoke about the indigenous Mob that was there when the historical building originated.”

Australia is a nation made up of hundreds of indigenous nations, and you can find out which land your spa or clinic stands on via your local council and library.

“Your local council will often have someone within the council itself that is connected to an elder or part of the local indigenous community, and approaching them is generally the best source of single truth,” Nikki adds.

“Your local council will often have someone within the council itself that is connected to an elder or part of the local indigenous community, and approaching them is generally the best source of single truth.”

There are also organisations like Supply Nation, which is an excellent point of reference for people wanting to use indigenous businesses.

Finally, Nikki encourages spas to look to the community they operate within and support it in any way possible. This could be by reaching out to elders for cultural talks or wellness experiences to help educate, supporting up and coming indigenous therapists through placements or helping local charities and literacy programs.

“We partner with a few colleges, so we are very fortunate to be within the training programs. We send one of our amazing elders into the colleges, and she is heavily invested in education, so the ancient culture and wisdom is passed on,” Nikki said.

“If you can inspire and educate people, that’s the most valuable thing you can do.”

This story was written on the land of the Dharawal people and acknowledges them as the Traditional Custodians of the land.

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