Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this page contains content which may be uncomfortable, distressing and/or emotionally draining.



In October 2020, Blak Business created and released a survey to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with a culturally safe space to share their opinions and perspectives on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity terminology and labels.

This survey sought to demonstrate the diversity of opinions about identity terminology, not to recommend a single term that can be used to address all Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. 


The survey was comprised of eight questions (excluding giveaway - see appendix 1) and was hosted on Google Forms. The survey was exclusively for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. To deter non-Indigenous voices, an introduction was included stating that only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were invited to complete the survey, and respondents were also asked to name their mob (language group, Country, or Island etc) or a term which they identify with.

Participation in the survey was voluntary and anonymous. Participants could withdraw their participation at any time by exiting the survey. Participants had the opportunity to enter a draw to win one of five prizes from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander businesses. To enter, participants needed to include their email address or Instagram handle; this information was collected exclusively for the purpose of the giveaway. Winners of the giveaway were contacted privately.

The survey was advertised on Blak Business' Instagram story several times between October 2020 and January 2021. 


Due to a number of limitations, the findings of this survey cannot be reliably generalised to reflect the opinion of the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, nor should they be used to support research.

Sample selection: The survey was distributed via Blak Business' Instagram platform and therefore only those who engage with the space had access to the survey. Not all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are on Instagram or engage with Blak Business, therefore all members of the community did not have the opportunity to share their perspectives. 

Sample size: The larger the sample, the more precise results are. Given that the sample size was small (266 respondents), the results cannot be reliably generalised to reflect the opinion of the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.


Question structure: As some questions were open-ended, it was difficult and time consuming to meaningfully translate the responses into quantitative results such as graphs and charts. This is a significant area for improvement for future research. 

Focus: The survey questions focused on individuals and their personal interactions. This survey did not capture information about perspectives on broader use of terminology such as in media. Future research should consider these broader uses of terminology.

Preferred terminology: in absence of a better word, "preferred" was used in the survey. Blak Business recognises that "preferred" implies that one's selection is only their personal liking i.e. they are just preferred over the "real" or "true" terminology. However this is not the intention but rather a wording flaw.


The survey had 273 respondents, 247 Aboriginal, 4 Torres Strait Islander, 15 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and 7 non-Indigenous. 

The survey was explicitly labelled as being for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;

non-Indigenous people were asked to respect this space. To restore cultural safety, the seven

non-Indigenous responses have been omitted and therefore the following findings are from a sample of 266 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Survey Results.png

Respondents were asked to include their mob (language group, Country, or Island etc) or a term which they identify with for the purpose of understanding where respondents come from.
166 language groups, nations, Islands, and/or terms were named.

Note: Duplicates of identical spelling have been omitted from this list. Where an individual identified with two or more language groups these have been separated to protect the anonymity of individuals. Likewise, where an individual named a specific tribe or clan of a language group, only the language group has been included to protect the anonymity of individuals.








Badimaya Yamatji




Ballardong Noongar

Barada Barna











Birri Gubba

Boigu Island

Boon Wurrung













Dja Dja Wurrung

Djab Wurrung


Djugun Yawuru


Eastern Arrernte










Gooreng Gooreng

Gubbi Gubbi






Gunaikurnai monero







Kabi Kabi









Keerray Woorroong

Kerray Wurrong




Kuku Yalanji








Latje Latje


Mabiuag Island

Mackay mob









Moa Island





Neri Neri







Ngurai Illum Wurrung


Noonga Yuat








Palm Island

Pitta Pitta

Plintamirimina Ppungenna

Southern Aranda

Stolen Gen












Wakka Wakka







Wemba Wemba

Wilman Noongar















Yorta Yorta





When asked what terminology they use to refer to themselves, respondents could enter their own options. Responses were divided into eight main areas:

  1. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

  2. Indigenous Australian incl. Aboriginal Australian

  3. Indigenous and/or Indig

  4. First Nations incl. First Peoples

  5. Language group incl. Country, Island, clan or skin name

  6. Demonym incl. Murri, Goorie, Koori/e, Noongar, Palawa etc.

  7. Bla(c)kfella incl. Blak, Blakfella, Blakfulla, Black, Blackfella, Blackfulla

  8. Other

Respondents could also enter additional information about their responses. Some of these responses are included verbatim in the appendix (see appendix 2).


When asked what terminology they don't use to refer to themselves as, respondents could enter their own options. Responses were divided into ten main areas:

  1. Indigenous

  2. Indigenous Australian incl. Aboriginal Australian

  3. ATSI

  4. First Nations incl. First Peoples

  5. Aborigine

  6. Slurs

  7. Aboriginal 

  8. Percentages or castes

  9. Bla(c)k incl. Blak, Blakfella, Blakfulla, Black, Blackfella, Blackfulla

  10. Other incl. First Australian, Native, incorrect demonyms

Respondents could also enter additional information about their responses. Some of these responses are included verbatim in the appendix (see appendix 3).


When asked what terminology they use to refer to other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples, respondents could enter their own options. Responses were divided into eight main areas:

  1. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

  2. Mob incl. "mob", language group, Country, Island, clan or skin name

  3. Bla(c)kfella incl. Blak, Blakfella, Blakfulla, Black, Blackfella, Blackfulla

  4. Indigenous and/or Indig

  5. Terms of solidarity incl. variants of Sis/Sister, Brus/Brother, Uncle, Aunty, Cousin

  6. First Nations

  7. Demonym incl. Murri, Goorie, Koori/e, Noongar, Palawa etc.

  8. Other incl. Indigenous Australian

Respondents could also enter additional information about their responses. Some of these responses are included verbatim in the appendix (see appendix 4).​



When asked what terminology they like other people to use to when referring to them, respondents could enter their own response.

Where respondents differentiated between their preference for non-Indigenous peoples use of terminology and other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples use of terminology, only the former was counted to create the chart below. This decision was made as it was reasonably assumed that the terminology which individuals refer to other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples (see chart above) is likely the same they would like other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples to use for them. 


However, given that the question did not explicitly differentiate between non-Indigenous peoples use of terminology and other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples use of terminology this chart is not as reliable or insightful as it could be. This is an area for improvement for future research. 

Responses were divided into eight main areas:

  1. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

  2. Indigenous Australian incl. Aboriginal Australian

  3. Indigenous

  4. First Nations incl. First Peoples

  5. Language group incl. Country, Island, clan or skin name

  6. Demonym incl. Murri, Goorie, Koori/e, Noongar, Palawa etc.

  7. Bla(c)k incl. Blak, Blakfella, Blakfulla, Black, Blackfella, Blackfulla

  8. Other

Respondents could also enter additional information about their responses. Some of these responses are included verbatim in the appendix (see appendix 5).


When asked what terminology they do not like other people to use to when referring to them, respondents could enter their own response.

Responses were divided into nine main areas:

  1. Aboriginal incl. an Aboriginal, Aboriginals, aboriginal

  2. Indigenous Australian incl. Aboriginal Australian

  3. Indigenous

  4. Percentages or castes

  5. Slurs

  6. Aborigine

  7. Bla(c)k incl. Blak, Blakfella, Blakfulla, Black, Blackfella, Blackfulla

  8. Native

  9. Other incl. Native, white passing

Respondents could also enter additional information about their responses. Some of these responses are included verbatim in the appendix (see appendix 6).

Survey Results (3).png

Finally, respondents could enter additional thoughts in a final comment box. Some of these responses are included verbatim in the appendix (see appendix 7).


Appendix 1: Survey


This survey is for ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES to share their perspective on identity terminology. 

This survey is anonymous. The responses collected from this questionnaire will be used to inform a post on @BlakBusiness and a research report. Responses will not be attributed to individuals. Participation is voluntarily and you can withdraw your participation by exiting the questionnaire at any time.

If you would like to enter the draw to win one of five prizes from Aboriginal businesses, please include your email address or Instagram handle at the end of this survey. This information is collected only for the purpose of the giveaway. 

This survey is managed by: Blak Business.


Only questions marked with * required a response before progressing.


Are you Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander? *

This survey is for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people to share their opinions. If you are not Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, please respect this space and DO NOT submit a response.

Yes, Aboriginal

Yes, Torres Strait Islander

Yes, both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

No, neither Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

Who's your mob? *

The purpose of this question is to get a better understanding of where respondents come from. If you don't know who your mob is, that's OK; I recognise, acknowledge and understand the impacts of settler colonialism. Please fill in this question with what feels comfortable to you.

For example, but not limited to: Noongar, Aboriginal, Blakfella etc.

[short-answer box]


Your Use of Terminology

This section asks about your personal use of terminology when referring to your Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander identity. 

What terminology do you use to refer to yourself? Why?

[long-answer box]


What terminology do you NOT use to refer to yourself? Why?

[long-answer box]

What terminology do you use to refer to other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people? Why?

[long-answer box]

Others Use of Terminology

This section asks about your preferences for others use of terminology when referring to your Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander identity.


What terminology do you like people to use when referring to you? Why?

[long-answer box]

What terminology do you NOT like people to use when referring to you? Why?

[long-answer box]

Further comments

This section provides you with space to share any other thoughts, reflections or insights you have about this topic. 


Is this anything else you would like to add?

[long-answer box]

Giveaway Entry (OPTIONAL)

If you would like to enter the draw to win one of five prizes from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander businesses, please include your email address or Instagram handle at the end of this survey. This information is collected only for the purpose of the giveaway. 

[short-answer box]

Appendix 2: Quotes

Question: "What terminology do you use to refer to yourself? Why?".

Language groups/Countries/Islands have been removed to protect the anonymity of individuals. Where a language group has been removed, "*mob*" is inserted.

Note: Not all responses are included here, only those which provide additional information.

  • Indigenous or First Nations. I feel like those words make sense to non indigenous people without demeaning myself. 

  • I like using Indigenous, Indigenous from Australia/ I also like using my tribe names; so if I’m asked where I’m from I’ll say I’m Indigenous and my mobs are so and so. I also use Aboriginal, but much prefer Indigenous. 

  • I introduce myself as *mob*. Anything else is imposed by colonisers. Sometimes I will say First Nations.

  • I just the words indigenous or aboriginal, because it’s the words I feel connected with. I’ve grown up without mob around me, so I’m not sure what exactly to say half the time. 

  • Aboriginal woman, *mob* woman, First Nations woman , Indigenous Australian - they're specific. They include a proper noun and an adjective because it's a nationality/identity just like Australian is capitalised.

  • I refer to myself as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander with the hope of educating those who have never met one of the mob before. Whenever someone asks, me which is when I’m in public, I make sure I’m ALWAYS articulate and doing my best to debunk as many negative stereotypes that may come with being black in this country.

  • Most times I use the word Aboriginal but occasionally I will use Indigenous. I use the word Aboriginal more often because sometimes when i use the word Indigenous people will get confused and ask me if I'm Aboriginal or Torres Straight. So just to make it easier and clarify things for people I use Aboriginal more often. But if I am talking to another Indigenous person I will state my tribes and we're I'm from! 

  • Murri (desert Murri) because that’s what my family call us 💪🏽

  • Indigenous Australian/ Indigenous/ blackfulla. I’m okay with First Nation’s person but I don’t use it personally just because I’m more comfortable with Indigenous. I think these names are the best because to me they hold a level of prestige. “Aboriginal” is very monoethnic but there are around 500 different mobs throughout Australia so I feel like Indigenous is a collective whereas Aboriginal is a way to bunch us all together without acknowledging the diversity amongst us. At the same time, I don’t hate Aboriginal - I just prefer to not use it myself but I wouldn’t get mad if someone else used it. I use blackfulla personally because it’s a little bit of a joke within my family since we’re light skin. 

  • Aboriginal, Indigenous Australian, Murri - I use these words as I feel they are the most widely understood for most people - especially those who aren’t Aboriginal.. and it’s kind of the most accurate way to describe myself as a white skinned Indigenous person / politically correct I suppose 

  • Aboriginal because indigenous to me is both TSI and aboriginal and I’m just one 

  • I say Koori, rather than Aboriginal, mostly because its been that way since I was a kid so I guess it habit, I also use Kamilaroi because 'Aboriginal' is such a broad term and doesn't truly reflect my identity or connection to land.

  • Aboriginal to non-Aboriginal people and to other mob Noongar or sometimes blackfulla to other blackfullas. I say Aboriginal to non-Aboriginal people because I think they wouldn’t understand the other terms and I use Noongar to other mob so they know where my family comes from. To other Noongars sometimes I would go even more specific and say exactly which Noongar groups (Ballardong, Whadjuk, Wardandi)

  • Koori - It would depend on the conversation though because I would say First Nations Australian internationally or Aboriginal/Koori throughout general Australia 

  • I'm a *mob* who's mob is from *mob* but grew up on *mob* because it differentiates where my dad and mob are from - my connections but also shows repect to who's country I grew up on.

  • Aboriginal, *mob*, Koorie . They respect my personhood and don’t situate me in the past 

  • Generally Indigenous, but occasionally blak. Mainly bc I'm white-passing and I have my internalised issues about identifying & being rejected. 

  • *mob*or Aboriginal. I use *mob* to open the conversation for people to ask the question “what is that?” and then go further into it.

  • I use Indigenous more often than Aboriginal but I have used both, I’m not really sure why I use one more than the other, I guess it depends on the conversation and who I am speaking with and whether or not the person I’m speak with is Aboriginal. I think I use Indigenous Australian when speaking with non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal more often with mob, I use Murri as well to describe myself. 

  • I find First Nations to be more encompassing when trying to write shorter and it acknowledges that we were the first people on this nation 

  • Aboriginal or Indigenous - indigenous seems to be favored term in workplace/professional areas

  • Blak, because I am proud and in the process of decolonising myself (losing the “c”). My mob names/language groups, because I am proud of my ancestors and cultures. Little Koori who grew up in Murri communities, so I can help other mob place me and understand where I do and don’t belong.

  • First Nations, Aboriginal, Blak, Koori, and *mob*. Different contexts I use different language. But prefer first nations as an overall term because it states our sovereignty I feel. 

  • Koori, *mob*, mob - feels natural. Blak. Sometimes I say Indig, more so since Uni Indig Games- only with mob but.

  • I do say Aboriginal or Indigenous when talking to migaloos/yt fullas because its just easier. 

  • I either say I'm Aboriginal or, when speaking to another indigenous person, *mob*

  • Aboriginal or Indigenous. I grew up only identifying at Aboriginal. When I moved from Darwin to Brisbane it seemed like indigenous was the norm. 

  • *mob*. It opens discussion for Ally’s and starts yarns with mob

  • "Indigenous" or "blak". I feel very proud when I can refer to myself the same way that many other amazing people do. It makes me feel connected with my people and my heritage.

  • *mob*woman/First Nations or Aboriginal (not as much) because I identify with my mob as they are my people and I am used to identifying with Aboriginal as it's used for First Nations people universally and not necessarily plants and animals like "Indigenous" is

  • Mostly just introduce myself as a proud *mob*woman. I like to say specifically what mob I’m from because I’m proud and like people to know where my ancestors are from :)

  • Aboriginal or Indigenous, because that was the terminology used when I was younger and I do not seen any issues with these terms. 

  • Murri, BlackFella, *mob* and *mob* Woman. Depends who I'm talking to and about and what context etc 

  • Aboriginal, Indigenous, First Nations People, Black Fulla. I am proud of my culture & am proud to identify as an Aboriginal no matter the percentage in my blood.

  • Goorie, Blakfulla, First Nations, *mob*. Because that feels right, it’s accurate and doesn’t feel anthropological 

  • Blakfella or Indigenous. Dad uses the term for himself really, and I've taken that for myself. Though I'm not as visibly dark as him.

  • Aboriginal, Indigenous, Black/Black/Blackfulla. I feel comfortable using these terms as my family and friends use these terms. 

  • *mob* Woman when I identify myself to mob so or Aboriginal when identifying myself to Non-Indigenous people. It’s important to seek that connection and I always ask, whose your mob & where you from. We might know same mob, be related or have a connection.

  • Proud *mob* woman, because I am incredible proud of who I am and who my mob are and feel a strong connection to my family and home

  • Aboriginal I have grown up with that description obviously define by my one mob *mob* and *mob* with other mobs. It is white people who need a generic term

  • Aboriginal Australian . As my mum is aistralian and dad is aboriginal 

  • Aboriginal / Mob / Koorie - they feel like the best descriptors for me. Indigenous feels clinical to me

  • Aboriginal, *mob*, First Nations, I feel like there are many different ways to refer to myself, but I try to be specific more often than not and talk about my Country, where my family is specifically from

  • *mob* woman, Aboriginal, Blackfulla (when around family and friends). I feel as though Indigenous is not a distinct enough term and blends Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people together when we are not the same. 

  • Aboriginal. I used to say Indigenous but I'm more comfortable with Aboriginal now. I'm quite fair and I think I used Indigenous because it made other people feel more comfortable. 

  • Koori - I refer to myself as koori because that’s who I am that’s my identity as a Aboriginal person. In general conversation or indigenous and koori when I’m talking professionally at school events so they know who I am.. I’m proud of my identity 

  • Koori or indigenous because being very light skinned, white people tend to try use the word aboriginal against me as if it’s a bad word And also It just resinates with me. 

  • Blak, Aboriginal, First Nations - I find these terms reflect me the most. I love the meaning behind Blak and it speaks to me and makes me feel included. 

  • I’ve found that if I use the term “indigenous” people have a better/nicer response than if I use the term “aboriginal”. I feel like people showed more stigmatisation when I used aboriginal and so for many years I only used the term indigenous. I did some research into the word and found that it’s actually a white imposed word with heavy associations to colonialism/oppression and since then I have active Italy tried to use the terms aboriginal or First Nations. 

  • First Nations - I’m only considered ‘indigenous’ because Australia became a colonialist settler state. I am part of the First Nations of this land. I want that reflected in my identity. I use blackfulla too, it connects me to my culture and community. 

  • When I talk about my family/heritage I say I am “Indigenous Australian”. I like to use this because I feel it solidifies who I am and it is usually not followed by a bunch of ignorant questions.

  • Aboriginal and Koori. My nan always used those terms around us kids so I’ve always thought of us like that. 

  • Aboriginal, Koori, *mob*, *mob*, blakfulla, mob. These are the terms I most identify with - I was raised as a strong *mob* woman, by a family of strong *mob* women. I specifically use *mob* and *mob*, because my grandmother, my mother and my aunties were never allowed to identify, as my grandmother and her father were afraid of her children being taken from her. When I acknowledge that this is who I am, I am acknowledging this past, and breaking this inter generational trauma. I use Koori and Aboriginal as this is what my community use after growing up in Sydney. 

  • Indigenous and Aboriginal - I use this terminology after speaking to some elders from my mob and other mobs they deem that this is appropriate and I whole heartedly believe and trust their opinions and knowledge. 

  • Koori, Indigenous, 'didgy. What my mob says, North West NSW is Koori... 'didgy is slang in our closer community for indigenous. Sis with close blak women

  • i no longer refer to myself as Aboriginal but instead will call myself “*mob*” meaning strong black *mob* woman. but i do identify with the word Aboriginal if in social gatherings. 

  • Ingenious Australian, I find that i don’t get racist comments ie, “but you are white” “you must get everything for free”

  • I use Indigenous and First Nation/People, the former because I can shorten it to indij around my non-Indigenous friends and the latter because we are the first people of this continent. I also use Blak and brotherboy, as I am those things, when talking with other Indigenous people

  • *mob*, our culture is so diverse, I identify by my nation to acknowledge the many different groups of our country 

  • Murri, like most of the time. When I’m In Melbourne: Aboriginal, everywhere else on the east coast: Indigenous. I have been called abo in the past, but Aboriginal is more accepted down here so I do use it. 

  • Aboriginal Heritage, as I do not know much about my family history and connections and that is a life time goal for me. 

  • Aboriginal, Abo, Indigenous. I feel like these terminology accurately describe the legal definition of who I am. I understand Abo as a term can be highly offensive especially from non-indigenous people. I have no problem calling myself that as it is a shortened version of Aboriginal and is not meant in a derogatory way

  • Blak, Aboriginal, Indigenous, mob, blackfella, Tassie mob. I feel comfortable with these terms. I use Palawa if I'm talking to a settler who I can see won't be able to pronounce my mob. I normally don't have the energy to keep repeating '*mob*' to someone who is only pretending to care about my mob to virtue signal.

  • *mob* and *mob* woman - as I’ve gotten older I fell a sense of obligation to pass on our culture, even if it means one person learns where our country is (*mob*) as a younger teen I used to say Indigenous. 

  • Indigenous or First Nation. Just sums be up as I identify as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

  • Strong Australian Aboriginal Woman- I like to let others know that I am strong in my culture and proud. I let others know I am an Australian Aboriginal because I am at times mistaken for an Indigenous person from other nations such as the Pacific Islands. 

  • *mob* ancestry - recovering assimilated descendants

  • *mob* - this is my connection to and relationship with Country, culture and kin, including my Ancestors. Using *mob* keeps my spirit strong.

  • Indigenous. I’m both Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander. I feel like this term is inclusive of both cultures. 

  • *mob* I am a sovereign person and belong to my people, not the so called “Aboriginal” race

  • First nation or Aboriginal depending on who I speak to because I've learnt that "indigenous" or anything with "Australian" attached to it is incorrect. I refer to myself like this to start a conversation when people ask me about my heritage. A conversation that I hope is more understanding on the injustices of our people instead of the stereotypical observations that usually come my way. I also say I'm black when I'm in more relaxed situations.

  • Aboriginal or by my mob names and my family group. I use country and family as that’s how we originally would refer to ourselves and I use aboriginal because I feel like the other make us sound like a species of animal. 

  • Indigenous - I usually highlight the "part" Aboriginal. My skin is very light and most non-indigenous people look at with confusion if I tell them my ethnicity. 

  • *mob* or First Nations. Neither of these are colonial terms, so by identifying as these I am not seeking an identity that is imposed onto me by the settler state (Aboriginal or Indigenous). I am also refusing to have my identity controlled. BUT - it is something I am working on, I still use the other terms out of habit and I know all mob have different opinions. Personally I would rather use terms that demonstrate my sovereignty and autonomy. 

  • I am from *mob*. I am a *mob* woman. That’s something I am learning to say loud and proud (I look white and our family were once disconnected but now “home” reconnected) . 

  • I am fair skin often when I use "I'm Aboriginal" I get questioned ("but you've got blue eyes? You don't look Aboriginal") somehow people then "believe" me when I identify as *mob*. 

  • I use blackfulla selectively (mostly use with mob) as I often cop a lot of backlash from yt people & have to educate "but you're not black, you've got white skin"🙄 

  • Aboriginal, Koori, Indigenous and First Nations. I’ve grown up calling myself Aboriginal and Koori as that’s what I was taught how to identify as. As I got older I started using Indigenous and First Nations more because of the online community of others Indigenous Peoples from all over the world. It gives me strength and feels it unites us mob. 

  • First Nations. It encompasses all of the First Nations peoples culture under one name while also acknowledging that there are different Nations/Cultures that are apart of that. 

  • 1) *mob* and *mob* 2) Aboriginal 3) Indigenous, in order of preference. Our mobs are our culture, our connection and represent the line of ancestors we were born from. I use this most when talking with/meeting other mob or new people in groups/forums. I use Aboriginal after introducing my mobs or when talking about myself as part of the collective. I use Indigenous when referring to myself as part of a global collective of Indigenous peoples. 

  • I am *mob* or I am Aboriginal. I live in an area with a large population of people who have English as a second language and are relatively new to Australia. When I say I am *mob* sometimes they aren’t sure what I mean so I offer a clarifying statement and provide further explanation. 

  • Koori - I wasn't raised on *mob* land or with *mob* language or *mob* perspectives, I feel like my knowledge and identity is from the broader Aboriginal community so "Koori" suits me. Blak, Aboriginal

Appendix 3: Quotes

Question: "What terminology do you NOT use to refer to yourself? Why?".

Language groups/Countries/Islands have been removed to protect the anonymity of individuals. Where a language group has been removed, "*mob*" is inserted.

Racial slurs have been removed to protect the wellbeing of readers. Where a slur has been removed, "*slur*' has been removed. A list of terms considered slurs are written in white font after this sentence. These are included purely for education. To read them, highlight the space (hold the left clicker on your mouse/touchpad and drag over text OR hold this area on a phone/tablet): Abo, Boong, Coon, Gin, N***a/N****r

Note: Not all responses are included here, only those which provide additional information.

  • Aborigine or *slur*. They are words that make me feel as though indigenous people are beneath others. Especially hate the word *slur* 

  • I don’t like using ‘Koori’ or ‘Murri’ etc, only because I feel like that kinda segregates us mob. States and stuff were created by a white man, so using just tribe names or referring to yourself as Indigenous is my preference.  

  • *slur*. The words have a very racist history behind them and I find it very degrading to be called any of those words. 

  • Indigenous, Indigenous or Aboriginal Australian - Indigenous is homogenising. Indig or Aboriginal Australian forces is to consider our identity as part of Australia which it isn’t.

  • native (usually used for Native American people) *slur* (lazy and disrespectful), indigenous (needs to be capitalised)

  • BIPOC, ATSI or any other abbreviation! They don’t have the privilege to abbreviate my existence, they will say it all or get exhausted say it! 

  • Aborigine - it suggests Aboriginal peoples aren’t diverse. It also has connections to colonialism and it just doesn’t sit well with me.

  • Indigenous. Government terminology.

  • *slur*/aborigine. To me they reflect invasion and the words of white settlers. Controversial but I would go as far as to say that aborigine is Australia’s ‘n’ word. It was was our people were called as they stole our children, raped our women and enslaved our men. 

  • I don’t call myself a black or blak person or blak fella as I have fair skin. I don’t refer to myself as a person of colour as again, I have fair skin so I just don’t feel like that’s appropriate. I also don’t really use the term First Nations person. I have no issues with that term it’s just something I have never thought of calling myself and really only just heard people calling themselves that.

  • Indigenous or native. I feel that these words have colonial connotations 

  • Indigenous, too often used to group us, and too often used by government and media in a deficit context. 

  • I no longer use Indigenous because it doesn't pay any respect to our many different nations or cultural nuances 

  • Aboriginie because it makes me think of back in the day when our mob weren’t considered humans, Indigenous because what i know everybody is Indigenous to somewhere. 

  • I dont like the word Indigenous. Australia is now a multicultural society there is many indigenous people from other lands here. We are indigenous to this land, but we are Aboriginal or our trial names

  • Indigenous. I’ve always felt and seen that has been used for plants and animals(non-humans) rather than to “describe” or identify ourselves as but it does mean “native to” so if it is something that we could use then I’d use it.

  • Aboriginie, native cause I think are derogatory and/or imply being primitive ... also I probably wouldn’t say I’m Blak just for myself cause I’m very light skinned and i think it might offend some my darker mob or be misunderstood that I’m trying to claim a certain level of lived experience that I don’t actually have (eg. I don’t suffer much of the symptoms of systemic racism because I appear “just white”)

  • I really hate terms like quarter caste and half caste. I see a lot of people who claim they’re also Indigenous say this online and say that it’s ok to use. As my mother was apart of the stolen generation I’ll never use it. I also don’t like the term *slur* or any other derogatory/racist term such as the n-word or c-word.

  • Atsi - just yuk. Hate it. Completely offensive and lazy. I find acronyms offensive and not to fussed about the term 'Indigenous' as it gives the likes of Pauline Hanson and other filth the opportunity to play on words and whitewash our collective and individual dentity 

  • "I prefer not to use Indigenous but will use it occasionally if necessary. I feel white Australians trying to take the indigenous word.  Never ATSI, because that is just rude. Even worst is Aboriginal and TSI, its rude and not acknowledging our Torres Strait mob"

  • Native - because ew. First peoples - as mixed race I don’t feel entirely comfortable using this term/didn’t use it growing up so am not sure if it’s appropriate. ATSI - the acronym is unnecessary, just write it out in full. 

  • Indigenous and Aboriginal, because they sound a bit anthropological. I also don’t use derogatory terms.

  • First Nations because it’s a newer term to me and I don’t feel culturally strong enough to use it yet. No objections to anyone else using it. 

  • Indigenous Australian, koleh mans words to describe us. I am trying to avoid using Torres Strait Islander more as it is the name of a Spanish man. 

  • I heasitate to call myself a Person of Colour due to potential prejudice as a white passsing person. Despite not being white, I am not 'of colour' and don't face that kind of direct racism. However, I don't always feel satisfied with this, as although I will always adknowledge my white passing privellage, it distinguishes me from what people percieve as 'Aboriginal', and hence kind of aims to remove that sense of identity from me. I hope that makes sense 

  • Indigenous or native. I am not a plant nor animal. I am a human being who's bloodlines existed before colonisation and Terra Nullius

  • Not often Indigenous, but sometimes because that's the term my work uses. Not really First Nations because it sounds really American. 

  • *slur*. Because ive been called it multiple times and i find it very racist. 

  • *slur*, I will never use this term to refer myself or any other Indigenous person. 

  • Indigenous, Aborigine, Half Aboriginal - these are outdated, too broad terms. I also use Murri on Occassion - usually only when I’m talking with mob. I don’t particular call myself a First Nations women, probably because the use of this (I feel) is quite new to the Australian context, and I always grew up with Aboriginal.

  • Abo because it is derogatory & by using it you are giving others the right to use it.

  • I first heard the word Indigenous in my community when I was 10/11 yrs old & I thought they were referring to Indians... I've never liked it. It's too broad. Other I'm hearing of late is white passing. I understand the concept & I have used it because I felt the pressure that I had too as my skin is white, I have a mix of blue/brown eyes & my hair is strawberry blonde. I understand my privilege of my 'white passing' in looks, but I was raised by a strong Blak woman..... My nan & she would never be right with me using that word to describe myself. I felt like I was dishonering her in a way. 

  • First Nations - because it is American terminology not ours. We have our own ways and don’t need to rely on how they identify

  • Indigenous Australian - I feel as if I don’t reflect the general stereotype of an everyday ‘Australian’, nor do I think that Australia excepts our people and culture, so I don’t feel comfortable adding ‘Australian’

  • ATSI  - our people are unique and diverse, this acronym does not begin to describe our culture and is government terminology, which I find offensive. I also dislike indigi or digi, I’ve heard this recently and had to ask what it meant. As  Aboriginal or Indigenous or First Nations is difficult to say.

  • Indigenous Australian, to me I don’t feel any connection when saying this. I’m very proud of who I am and where my mob come from and have a strong connect to them so I am always proud to tell people that 

  • Blak - I'm usually in white spaces and don't want to invite arguments from white people questioning my identity.

  • "First Nations (feels more like a technical / educational / generalised term) Australian (technically do use it, but hate it. only use in international context, but would rather not because it acknowledges “Australia” as if is a legitimate country and not stolen lands)

  • Indigenous - it sounds ugly and awkward and clinical 

  • Indigenous or Australian, because technically “everyone grows here” if you’re born here, and

  • ATSI, I am not an acronym.

  • Probably Indigenous (not personal) and first nation (I feel like I'm not an elder or entitled to it) 

  • As a fair skin Indigenous person, I'm conscious of where I refer to myself as a black woman. I usually only do in spaces where I know people, they know me and feel comfortable with them. 

  • Indigenous Australian - because it contains the colonial name for this continent which is gross and because "Indigenous" to me feels rather dehumanising. 

  • *slur* or Aborigine,  I do NOT support using these terms. *slur* - for the obvious reasons, it being used a a derogatory term and all the history it holds. And Aborigine- i know some people don’t mind but I do I have only ever heard ignorant white people use this term on tv, articles and literally anywhere, and I don’t like it for me because those white people still can’t even bear to say the full word the “have” to abbreviate the word Aboriginal and because they can’t use “*slur*” they think “I guess aborigine will have to do” and I still think it holds ALOT of the history that “*slur*” holds.

  • ATSI, Indig, Blak. I don’t use Blak as I am very light skinned and I feel that it may be disrespectful to some mob who have faced persecution and discrimination based on the colour of their skin, that I have not had to face as a white-passing Aboriginal woman. 

  • Black / blak because it isn’t the inclusive enough. You are either Indigenous or not. I have found the term ‘Black’ to be an exclusionary term for Indigenous persons who aren’t dark skinned. I’ve never been questioned about my Indigeneity from Indigenous persons. It has only been by non-Indigenous persons.

  • Aboriginal Australian or Indigenous Australian. I don't want to link myself to their terminology 

  • Mixed race - I identify as aboriginal even tho I may have other races in me, my soul is aboriginal

  • Descendant. I do not descend from my ancestors, I grow from them and they live on within me 

  • *slur*. It’s a slur and no it’s not okay for my white friends to say it, even if the term doesn’t upset me. Same as *slur* and *slur*. I strongly feel that it’s a bad idea to try and “reclaim” these slurs. Let them fade into obscurity. 

  • Native Australian, Traditional Australian, Australian, Black, ATSI. I feel like these terms are things that White Australia calls Indigenous people to belittle their identity or dismiss it completely. As I am not Torres Strait Islander I don’t use ATSI. Black or Blak I feel like it is not my place to use as I am a white passing indigenous woman

  • Aborigine because I just don’t like it

  • "First Nations, because that seems to get confused with Canadian and American Indigenous peoples.

  • Indigenous. I feel like Indigenous is the 'scientific' term given to people native to a land. I also don't refer to myself as a blakfella or Blak, because I feel uncomfortable with the terminology given my fair complexion and red hair.

  • Indigenous not as often because I feel like it generalises and my TSI culture gets forgotten. People assume Indigenous is only Aboriginal People 

  • “Part Aboriginal”, “Quarter Aboriginal”, “White Aboriginal” I feel like these terms take away from my identity and connection to my cultural identity. They label and fit me in to a box of “how much Aboriginal I am” like I somehow have to prove myself. 

  • Blak because I don't feel my skin colour reflects my ancestoral background and thus it would be wrong for me to say I am blak

  • *slur*, Indigenous, First Nations- I choose not to use these terms because *slur*is derogatory and it belittles an Aboriginal person reminding them of the pain and suffering inflicted on our people many years ago but even today by small minded racists. Indigenous usually is associated with people from other countries such as NZ or Native Americans and therefore does not represent me as a person. First Nations is like your trying to prove to others that we were here in Australia before Captain Cook. I know this is true that our people were here before the first fleet but I don’t believe we need to try and prove it every time we refer to who we are. It should be about our pride in ourselves and not trying to explain the title First Nations. I don’t believe we need to justify ourselves and belonging in Australia because of a white man who invaded our country! "

  • First Australian - I have a strong negative emotion And reaction when I see this. My identity is not intertwined or connected to that of being an “Australian” and I resist the “Australian” identity at every opportunity through my journey in decolonising

  • Aborigine, Indigenous, anything with the word Australian I don’t recognise Australia as a legitimate nation state And I don’t like First Australian, because my existence and identity does not pivot around colonisation, nor is colonisation the point of radical departure in my life"

  • First Nations - I think it’s great to pay respect to those before us but I don’t identify with that terminology for myself. 

  • I'm part aboriginal,  I cringe when someone says this, this is so disrespectful 

  • Half caste or quarter caste! And it really makes me cringe when our own mob refer to themselves like that. I understand that in most cases it's just something that has trickled down from generation to generation and even in the education systems but I only ever hear first nations people being asked such a ridiculous thing! But white people think they can say to me that they are "Just Australian" When I spin the same question on them, and on one occasion was even met with some hostility. All that says to me is that they want to diminish my connection to culture or water down my identity for their "comfort" because they know damn well they are standing on stolen land

  • Indigenous and aborigine. Makes us sound like a species of animal rather than a race of people. 

  • Blak - my skin clearly ain't. I don't want to anger other darker skinned Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander people by referring to myself as that.

  • I don’t use the terminology “ half” I find it highly offensive. I refer to myself as Aboriginal NOT half Aboriginal 

  • Aborigine and *slur*. I feel personally that Aborigine is an older term and I also associate it with Negative connotations, it’s something I imagine someone’s old racist nan would use. Obviously can’t stand the term *slur* but it especially hurts when one of my Aboriginal friends uses the term without care.

  • I wouldn’t identify as Aboriginal or Indigenous because they are colonial constructs, however it’s exhausting for me to communicate my identity to white people without using these terms.

  • Native, Aboriginie, ATSI. These words do not honour the cultural lines we come from and have been used to discriminate against us as a collective. 

  • Part aboriginal because no one is part something 

  • Indigenous because it's not an identity. The term makes me think of flora and fauna 

  • I don’t like Indigenous Australian. I believe this takes away from my culture.

  • My community dislikes indigenous as it is a homogenous term that ignores diversity 

  • Don’t really call myself Indigenous because it’s very general and doesn’t denote where I’m Indigenous to

  • First Nations. I’m only indigenous on my father’s side, and I kind of find it weird to refer to myself as First Nations when one side of my family are white immigrants. 

  • *slur* because I find it racist and offensive and I absolutely hate it when people ask why its racist and keep questioning you when you tell them 

  • Blak - as white passing it feels less relatable but I understand the use of the word and the reclaiming of the word

  • Indigenous - I’m not a bloody fauna/flora

  • Aborigine, slurs, percentages/castes, First Australian (this sounds like it means the first settlers/colonisers), First Nations (this comes from Aboriginal people of Canada)

Appendix 4: Quotes

Question: "What terminology do you use to refer to other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people? Why?"

Language groups/Countries/Islands have been removed to protect the anonymity of individuals. Where a language group has been removed, "*mob*" is inserted.

Note: Not all responses are included here, only those which provide additional information.


  • I’ll either ask where they’re from or just use black fulla if I’m not sure, but using their tribe names would be more respectful.  

  • If I don’t know someone I will say “are they mob?” Or “are they Blak” or “are they Blakfulla?” If it’s in a formal setting I will use the full terminology used in the question. If it’s one on one or about someone I know, I will always use the terminology they ask me to.

  • I use indigenous as I feel it is more inclusive if I don’t know the person, but I will always ask them what they want to be called 

  • If I am talking to another Indigenous person I will refer to others as "brother boy", "sista gal", "aunt", "uncle", "cousin" etc. For 1. Out of respect and for 2. It doesn't separate us by using the terminology white fullas gave us ! Where as if I'm talking to a non Indigenous person I will simply refer to  (for example)- my nan, I will refer to her as aunty pat as she is a very well know elder in our community and she deserves that respect from not only Indigenous but also non Indigenous people. Kinship is key in our culture. 

  • Mob - because no matter where they’re from or what trip they are affiliated with, you experience an unspoken bond with them

  • Indigenous person/Indigenous. I don’t call other indigenous people blackfulla  unless we are close and/or they’ve specifically said they’re okay with it 

  • Our mob. Not "mob" on its own. Our mob - to unite us 

  • Mob if directing a group. I would simply say indigenous Australian or aboriginal/TSI.. again, I feel like the terminology  for me is more about acknowledging the persons heritage rather than skin colour so I have never used blak or black fella etc to refer to any one indigenous 

  • If I know their preferences I will use that or blakfulla 

  • There mob if I know, or aboriginal or Torres Strait islander in full.

  • I use their language group/nation if known beacuse it shows respect. If a yorga is close to me then we are sisters, sissys or tiddas.

  • Depends if I know their mob or not. If I do I refer to them by their mob, otherwise as ‘mob’ or Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. If I don’t know that then I say Indigenous peoples It’s respectful, we come from long lines of staunch warriors and fighters each with our own unique experience and histories so I like the acknowledge that as much as possible

  • Indigenous to be all inclusive, Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander if I don’t know their mob - or their mob if I know it ! The more personal and respectful I can make it the more I prefer.. we are all different and our mob and countries are important to acknowledge I think. 

  • If their mob is known to me then I refer them that way. I might call them sis, brother, bungee, Uncle, Aunt. 

  • This mob/you mob, to be inclusive of a group if I don’t know their mob/language group or if it’s a lot of different backgrounds. Sis/bred for people I am close to (family and friends) of my age/generation (except my actual sisters who I call Mum). Aunty/Uncle for Elders (or Aunty girl/little Unk for nieces and nephews). Blackfullas for a collective term. 

  • First Nations in formal settings (around white ppl, work, all that). Their mob if known, or whatever they personally prefer. 

  • Depends on context. If it’s a collective say for work I’ll use Indigenous. If I know their mob then I might use that. 

  • Mob. I will always ask straight away how they would like to be called. Ask don’t assume

  • First Nations people, or use the name of their mobs/islands. Really limit the use of ATSI as they’re both koleh terminology to describe us. Our language names is something they can’t ever take away from us. Also when speaking to my Māori family, we say tangata whenua - meaning people of the land.

  • Brothers and sisters, aunt and uncle, elders, because thats what they are. We are all one.

  • I call us all Mob to encompass both brothers and sisters. It's mostly because I grew up outside of Indigenous communities with people who couldn't and were obfuscative of my heritage. It's a neutral term which covers everyone from light to dark. We're all Mob.

  • Blackfullas and mob - I’ve grown up with my family calling each other and other mob blackfullas. I think the terms blackfulla and mob are unique to us and we can use them to unit and empower our people with terminology that we choose and feel comfortable with.  

  • It depends on in what context and who to. When just talking or introducing friends/family to another Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person I’d just say black fella. I hope that by using “Koorie” English it makes that person know and feel safe around me. And for them to also know that I too am a black fella

  • hat ever terminology they prefer. It’s always better to ask if you’re unsure/assuming someone is indigenous or has an obviously differing background from your own. No one should mind being asked if it’s coming from a place of respect. 

  • Cousins or mob. This is what my family and ancestors have always used 

  •  If I am referring to someone else who may be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, I usually use the word Indigenous. This is because it can apply to either background.

  • If I know their mob I use that, if not I use Aboriginal 

  • I would never say like ‘they’re aboriginals’ that feels offensive. If I’m referring to a group Iin writing I’d say Aboriginal people  Indigenous Australian or Indigenous communities. Never Aboriginals think this ect ect... If I’m asking if someone’s mob I might say ‘are they mob?’ ‘Are they Aboriginal

  • If I’m asking someone if they’re Aboriginal I might say ‘are you mob?’ Or if it’s how they’re mob I might say something ‘which side of your family is your Aboriginality from’ ill also use ‘are they blak’ if Im with friends but not to a white person because they might misunderstand and thinking I’m asking about skin color "

  • I try to pay attention to how other people reference themselves. If in doubt, I use Indigenous (for example, incase they are also Torres Strait Islander, I don't want to exclude this part of their identity by just saying Aboriginal).

  • Black fullas- because that’s who we are we are one mob we are all brothers and sisters weather we are lighter Aboriginal people or the darkest our identities still run strong in us and that’s our connection. Or I use koori if I know we are all from NSW for exactly the same reason as black fullas we are all one mob we all have that connection to each other 

  • Mob, First Nations, Indigenous. First Nations is a blanket term and applicable for international Indigenous peoples. However some Mob from less developed countries are us “Indigenous” or their country/language specific words. Although many in ‘Australia’ and Turtle Island prefer First Nations over the word Indigenous, I believe that this language preference is a privilege reserved for those in more developed English speaking colonies/countries. Many of the Asian First Nations people are ok with using the word Indigenous as is the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

  • Aboriginal, Sista Girl, Cuz, Uncle, Aunty, Indigenous, Tidda. These are aboriginal originated and only used within our culture. I feel like these terms respect the position of my aboriginal mentors and mob and gives them the recognition that is unique and special in an indigenous way

  • FIRST NATIONS. ABORIGINAL. SIS. BLAK. TORRES STRAIT. I use correct terminology and slang because we are more than an acronym lol 

  • Usually Mob but it depends what context. I’ll most likely use Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander because like dont be lazy and just acknowledge everybody. Again First Nations work but it’s just too broad for it to be a preference to me. I should say if I know the country or language group of the person, that is my preference for example she’s a Gooreng Gooreng woman. 

  • Depending on the person and the respect I have for these people determines what I use on other Aboriginal people. If they’re older than me it’s always Aunty/ Uncle or Nan/Pop. If it’s someone around the same age I usually refer to them as brother or sis and then if I’ve known someone for proper long time they mob. They just become my family. 

  • Brother/Sister/Aunty/Uncle - It’s a sign of respect. Although we’re all from different tribes we’re also one big mob. Using these terms depending on who it is I’m addressing displays my respect for them, and acknowledges that I see and accept them in the community.

  • Mob Brothers, sisters, kin Relationships are important to my identity and to our cohesiveness as a community

  • Blak/black/mob I think mob is a more general one and has really transformed into something that is accepted by everyone. And for me, I still use blak and black as interchangeable. I think every Indigenous Australian is black, they may be white passing but they’re still black."

  • Mob, Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander. There was a lot of shame being aboriginal when I was growing up. We were encouraged by parents and teachers not to share that information. There was no pride in it. As such I am conscious of using terminology that clearly identifies people.

  • Indigenous Australians. I took a public health course that covered why the term ‘Aboriginal’ as a blanket statement can be offensive and it stuck with me.

Appendix 5: Quotes

Question: "What terminology do you like people to use when referring to you? Why?"

Language groups/Countries/Islands have been removed to protect the anonymity of individuals. Where a language group has been removed, "*mob*" is inserted.

Note: Not all responses are included here, only those which provide additional information.

  • Indigenous or First Nations. I feel like it’s not demeaning to use this words to describe someone. Indigenous or they can ask me my tribes and refer to me as those.  Although, I don’t really mind - Not that fussed.  They could refer to me as blak & I wouldn’t care.  

  • *mob* woman, Indigenous woman, First Nations woman, Aboriginal Australian - these acknowledge my identity, are specific and respectful. Please learn someone's country.

  • Firstly man or person but when referring to my identity - Aboriginal as it is broad and not assuming a connection or that people can immediately use informal. But another Aboriginal person I like brother. 

  • I prefer Koori as a generalised terminology but also understand not everyone knows the terms of reference I use & may say Indigenous or Aboriginal. I always explain the terms I prefer and why.
    Indigenous Australians or First Nations. I believe it is respectful and without any attachment to judgement. I also appreciate people who do there research and actually get to know what country they are on.

  • Depends on who they are but for non koori/Aboriginal people - they should ask respectfully 

  • Yt pekple: Aboriginal, Indigenous, or my mob if we know each other and they’re REAL allies 
    Blackfulla: anything ..?

  • *mob* because it holds them accountable to remember and actually care and learn about my country and my people.

  • I don’t mind Indigenous or Murri, Aboriginal is ok but I prefer if the least. If they are from overseas I understand the use of the term First Nations or First peoples or Native is used, so if they’re overseas and the commonly use that I feel that’s ok but if they’re from Australia I prefer they use Murri or Indigenous.

  • Aboriginal because it gets right to the point without the implications of Indigenous (ie plants and animals); sister or sis from other mob where relevant 

  • Indigenous, because it includes my torres strait islander side people sometimes forget to mention, or murri because that is my mob i belong to

  • "Indigenous", "*mob*" or "First-nations person". I find these terms very respectful and positive, it makes me feel connected and proud when people refer to me with these terms.

  • Aboriginal or Indigenous or First Nations person but preferably as a *mob* person - I think that where possible it is important to link an Indigenous person to their mob

  • Indigenous / First Nations. Indigenous is what I’m used too, but I enjoy the recognition of our culture that comes with First Nations 

  • Depends on the context and audience. My background isn’t my only defining characteristic. 

  • Koori for other mob, family or friends. It’s familiar and feels natural, or First Nations for others, it acknowledges that there are multiple communities, cultures etc and that we were here first. 

  • I’d prefer my language groups because it’s important to me. It’s my connection to my people and country and a place of identity for me. 

  • ‘Sally’ is an Aboriginal woman from Victoria it ‘sally’ is a Koorie person. Or if they know my mobs they should say ‘Sally is a *mob* woman from Melbourne’ 

  • If they are a Non indigenous people I like them to refer to Me as, indigenous or Aboriginal person as it shows me they respect me as an Aboriginal person and my identity 

  • I’m happy for people to just refer to me as a Koori or Aboriginal Person as I feel like this is short, sweet and easy terminology for anyone to use without having to say traditional names.
    Aboriginal indigenous

  • *mob* first and foremost and then Blak, First Nations and Aboriginal. I want people to call me *mob* first because that's my mob and it's who I truly am. And then the other terms which speak to me. 

  • I’d like to like First Nations peoples to be able to call themselves by their First Nations I.e. Tiwi/Arrernte. I think there is a lot of knowledge that can benefit Australia and the people that live here today. First Nations peoples reclaiming our identity’s by speaking our truth gives breath to Country and allows for our ancient lore to be here. There is power in our sovereignty and our ancient connection to Country. 

  • Aboriginal or Indigenous, and it REALLY depends on what they’re saying, who they are and how they’re saying it. I’m generally okay with a settler indicating that I am visibly white, unless it’s on some weird eugenics bent 

  • Indigenous, my mob's name, Aboriginal. I think anything else from a non-Indigenous person can come across as a bit too familiar. Blak is okay depending on how well I know the person referring to me that way, just because I think people need to know me well to understand which terms I use and which contexts to use words in. 

  • Proud Aboriginal Woman, Sister girl, Tidda Girl, Aunty All the above names I feel are respectful and appropriate for a strong Proud Aboriginal woman. It’s uplifting to hear someone call you these names as it makes you feel a sense of belonging and appreciation.

  • *mob* person/womxn, Aboriginal person/womxn, Koori, blackfulla, community - in line with how I view my identity, and how womxn in my family and community have taught me. I’m part of a culture, I have bloodline and spirit connection to place and I’m also part of a community and a collective

  • Indigenous/First Nation. This is who I am. I am a collective of my ancestors’ dreaming. I have the strength and resilience of my old people running through me. My blood reigns from the oldest culture and people in the world. I’m damn proud, this is what makes me who I am. 

  • Gunditjmara Aboriginal person Respect ways, call me my nation. It’s who I am and it’s the Gunditjmara earth that birthed me

  • Indigenous as its inclusive of everyone and I feel they’re addressing me, those before me and those yet to come. It holds a lot of respect I think. 

  • I’m not sure but I’m ok with Indigenous people saying “sis” 

Appendix 6: Quotes

Question: "What terminology do you NOT like people to use when referring to you? Why?"

Racial slurs have been removed to protect the wellbeing of readers. Where a slur has been removed, "*slur*' has been removed. A list of terms considered slurs are written in white font after this sentence. These are included purely for education. To read them, highlight the space (hold the left clicker on your mouse/touchpad and drag over text OR hold this area on a phone/tablet): Abo, Boong, Co

Note: Not all responses are included here, only those which provide additional information.

  • *slur*, aborigine, an Aboriginal (usually because of the way it’s said) or a white aboriginal. All these terms are used or have been used in a racist and degrading way since colonisation and are usually followed by another racist comment or ‘“joke”. 

  • I’m not too sure about this one, just stuff like ‘*slur*’ or Indigenous Australia lmao, even Indigenous TO Australia, like I’m not YOURS, would prefer Indigenous FROM Aus.  

  • Half Aboriginal, white, *slur*. These words have a racist history and devalue my Aboriginality because I don’t have dark skin 

  • *slur*, ATSI, aboriginals, aborigine, native - ATSI in particular is lazy and disrespectful since doesn't acknowledge the diversity of our nations. My indigeneity is special and deserves a capital letter since it's a identity/nationality just like 'Australian' is capitalised. I am a *mob* woman.

  • ATSI because I don’t like the abbreviation when they can just say the whole words, Aboriginals as a plural it makes me feel like they’re talking about a different spieces and feels yuck 

  • Anything racist, and questioning my identitiy because I don't "look" Aboriginal to them. My identity is not up for debate.

  • The usual derogatory words, Native Australian, Indigenous Australian, it makes me feel like I’m just clumped into one category when rather we all have our own lore, culture and traditions.

  • Aboriginie, “a native” ... again cause its been used against me in a patronising way to imply it’s a tokenism or primitive 

  • Atsi, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, I'm not a fricken acronym, it removes my cultural identity, its just plain lazy.  I'm  not an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person. Aboriginal, Aborigine - just no. Both terms have been used against our people in a derogatory way

  • ATSI. Please no ATSI

  • Native, ATSI - unnecessary. I don’t like when non-indigenous people use Blak either. 

  • I really dislike people dismissing my heritage because they think I'm too pale to be Aboriginal, so they don't call me Aboriginal even when I've been clear that I am and that's how I want to be identified.

  • Indigenous Australian, Aboriginal (and not bothering to recognise both First Nation cultures of this country), TI - which is a common mistake when people are attempting to refer to TSI. Say the name properly, we’re not an acronym. 

  • White wanna be black. Making comments how their tan is darker then me. Asking me my percentage of Aboriginal. Gone now... I've been called it all. It hurts. I am confident in who I am & proud of who I am. But I gotta admit at times its tiring, tiring that my identity is questioned because of my appearance.

  • Aboriginal, derogatives, 'native', the usual stuff. I also don't like the adjective 'Proud' that's used as a prefix to Indigeniality throughout current media and mainstream society. I'm already proud of my heritage, it should  be apparent from me simply being Koori or Dharug and Indigenous. 

  • Abo, *Adding ‘Australian’ after ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘Indigenous’* I don’t like to be referred to as Australian as it upholds colonial names/ideologies. 

  • When people reference that my mum is Aboriginal and/or Blak but I am not, just because my skin might not be dark and I don’t look a certain way doesn’t make me any less Aboriginal compared to her or someone who is of darker skin Another terminology I prefer people not to use is “Indigenous” because that is so broad, I am Aboriginal. So the least they can do is identify that

  • ‘White person’. I feel this is insensitive, implies to me that I don’t ‘look Aboriginal enough’ which I hear often. 

  • Derogatory terms are the only terms I don’t want to be referred to. There are so many varying opinions in the community and I wouldn’t consider it disrespectful for someone to call me aboriginal. Lots of people grew up saying that. 

  • Any of the racist stuff, obviously, including half-caste, because it is violent and hurtful. I prefer people don't say I am 'Indigenous' - but this is not as bad as the other stuff

  • If it’s a non- indigenous person I don’t like them to use the words *slur*, Aborigine, black fulla. *slur* and Aborigine because that will put my of side straight away because I will feel they think they are superior to me and not class me as a human, these words are very out dated now and but hold a dark history with them I feel.  Black fulla if used by me amongst other black fullas and it’s a sense of connection, I don’t call non indigenous people “ white fullas” because I feel that would be me using a derogatory term for them and I don’t want to disrespect someone so I want them to use that term to me.

  • Indigenous Australian and Aboriginal Australian - because I hate that it contains the  colonised term for this land in reference to us and the term "Indigenous" is rather dehumanising to me. 

  • I hate being referred to as Indigenous, it’s too broad and can easily be connected with flora and fauna 

  • A white lady who I don't have a relationship with called me sista one day. I thought that was inappropriate due to our lack of knowing one another, but I don't mind when other koori girls call me that. 

  • Indigenous Australian. Technically anyone born in Australia is Indigenous. It’s the white mans word for us, not ours. We speak for ourselves 

  • I don't like settlers calling me 'blackfella' or 'sis'. I just don't think it's their place to refer to me like that. I also don't like being called a traditional owner of 'this land/Australia' when I'm not on my Country because I'm a guest on any other land and not a traditional owner. I really hate being called an Aboriginal or anything in the slur category for obvious reasons. 

  • *slur* Stating a percentage or asking my percentage of aboriginality. “You’re only half” etc. 1st two are derogatory and always have been, the percentage one is just ridiculous it’s just used as a way to remove you from the Stolen Generation and any inter generational trauma that may have fallen upon you by (most of the time) their ancestors! Therefore absolving guilt. OR because they can’t believe there’s a white-appearing “civilised” indigenous person (the worst kind of person)

  • First Australian - very assimilationist, I find this offensive Any racist terminology

  • And Part aboriginal as no I am aboriginal its not just a part It is all ... I AM ABORIGINALGubba ,this hurts when other mob say this ,no matter my skin my blood bleeds *mob* and my heart beats *mob* for my grandmother and her family. 

  • fair skin Aboriginal makes me feel like I'm lesser than mob blessed with still having the darker skin tones of our ancestors - assimilation is still at play here, Caucasian, white, what part Aboriginal are you?, how many great great grandparents back is your Aboriginality?, where does your Aboriginal come from?,  Although I have many benefits and privileges having lighter skin, I struggle in a different way in that I am always questioned about my identity by both mob and others, I always have to prove myself and I am still subject to racism and often people expect me to be in on their ""jokes"" before I have to educate them and bring up my identity.

  • Indigenous again just because it lumps us all together, also obviously anything derogatory, or not capitalising Aboriginal or Indigenous if they use that. Just feels disrespectful not capitalising the words

  • I don’t like the term native Australian. Mostly because I never bear a indigenous people use it, and I associate the word native a lot to flora and fauna. 

  • Indigenous - makes me think of flora and fauna. It's a generic term like Native. It doesn't recognise all of our different cultures and lore

  • White passing - this term comes from history in the United States of America of people trying to pass as white so to avoid oppression. I am not trying to ""pass"" as anything. I'm fair skin Koori and I will say that. I would never say another Blakfella is ""Indian passing"", ""African passing"" or ""Polynesian passing"" - so why put that on fair skin mob? Aborigine - people will argue it's grammatically correct which is ridiculous. If we don't want to be called that, don't call me that. First Australian, First Nations, any slurs, percentages, ATSI

Appendix 7: Quotes

Additional comments

Language groups/Countries/Islands have been removed to protect the anonymity of individuals. Where a language group has been removed, "*mob*" is inserted.

Note: Not all responses are included here, only those which provide additional information.

  • As we all know the education system has seriously failed us in the way that they have taught or still are teaching Indigenous Australian history. How uncomfortable it was listening to my white teacher read diary entries from the first fleet about how dopey and docile Aboriginals were when they arrived. Or when we watched Bran Nue Dae in high school and I had to sit there and listen to the boys make racist comments constantly through out the movie. The teacher never stepped in. I remember being told by mostly white kids that I don’t look Aboriginal because they’ve seen what a real one looks like. I guess I’m just sharing this because I know others have had the same experience and it still shocks me how ignorant and racist others can be and that this is still going on.

  • Everyone's different. Ask people's country. Listen.

  • It is important that we set the benchmark on how we want to be called. They can’t dictate that any more, it is in our control and power.

  • It’s amazing how there’s over 100 indigenous languages, but there are certain words that are somewhat “universal”

  • When it comes to identity I think people should ask not assume & listen to learn

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be able to refer to themselves however they want and spell their people how they want (not a written language) even if they are terms (like tribe) that I’m not comfortable with, but white people need to learn what’s appropriate too, and they need to learn to ask too!

  • The term "white passing" hurts so bad, cuts deep everytime i hear it.

  • I have privilege, I know I do because of my appearance but that does not make me any less mob than the rest. My connection to my ancestors is not changed because of my look.


  • Always was, Always will be

  • The popular problem i often face is people telling me I don’t look Aboriginal or asking me how Aboriginal I am. That to me is the most offensive

  • I think it's a very complex topic, and the terms we prefer to use and be identified by, can vary considerably by both geographical location and experience of colonisation.

  • I definitely feel the use of terminology, and what is accepted by Mob is dynamic and ever 

  • Having a generic name for our mobs can be problematic and I think is generational. My Nan and Mum called themselves Blackfellas and Aboriginal and now it would seem we are following North Americas to First Nations. The requirement of a term is for the broader community and if it helps them acknowledge and respect us then I am happy to use whatever we as the Original custodians feel comfortable with.

  • I think terminology is really important and that it’s ever evolving however I don’t hold that high of an expectation of non Blak people to use terms that make me feel comfortable as long as they’re not racist and horrible it’s okay! I respect that this isn’t the case for other people.

  • Often will get comments for people who have just met me/said something from their view about Aboriginal people. When I say well I am Aboriginal, it always ends like “one of the good ones” “what part/percentage are you” “I’m not talking about you” it’s often this narrative that is the most common and annoying to correct in an intelligent/truth telling way (if that makes sense!)

  • I know this is an important topic for mob and it’s important to be mindful that everyone is different. I know personally I like being referred to as my language groups but for other mob who may not know who they are or who their mob is they might prefer more general terms. I think it’s important just to ask the individual what is best for them at the end of the day.

  • I would like to get to a point where it’s normalised to understand the different language groups and it’s common knowledge to be referred to your specific nation or accepted peoples, but I’d also want that for our cities and towns, For example along with a “Welcome to Logan” sign we also have a you’re entering Yugambeh Country

  • I really dislike when people use Aboriginal as an noun not an adjective as in “you’re an Aboriginal”. I’d much prefer “you’re an Aboriginal person”. But happy for people to say “you’re a koori”

  • I personally don’t feel uncomfortable when my friends who are not indigenous use the term ‘black’ to describe me. This is because I know they aren’t disrespecting me, and they have asked me if I feel comfortable. However, if a stranger were to call me black or use it in a disrespectful way, I would feel attacked.

  • Always was, Always will be.

  • BLM!!

  • ✨ACAB✨

  • I have noticed some non Australian indigenous people be scared to use the word “mob” in fear that it’s disrespectful. And I do believe more awareness needs to be brought around words non-indigenous folk can use. Also Thankyou for creating this I truly appreciate and respect your energy, time and effort into connecting with Indigenous Australians around Australia and allowing us to have a say. 🖤💛❤️

  • I work in the construction industry and I have found things are getting better and also I find a lot more people are becoming more aware and understanding of some of the issues indigenous people face. I also have found more people are asking questions and showing interest in education on indigenous history.

  • We are people, whole people. The oldest surviving culture on earth.not a percentage, we're all from here. So RESPEXT IT

  • I think at the end of the day, people should always ask the individual what they prefer, it’s a personal choice!

  • Like with their other poc friends, settlers need to let us lead when working out what to refer to us as. It’s okay to go broad/general when you don’t have enough info (eg: indigenous) but that becomes ignorant and offensive when you *do* have that info (eg, using “indigenous” when you specifically mean Torres Strait Islander), yet still use the broad term. Indigenous and Aboriginal are white people terms! They don’t always work. And if your friend only refers to themselves as black, say they’re black. Learn to follow our lead! We do it with our poc friends, so I dunno why settlers find this so hard. Just listen.

  • I think that some terms such as Black/Blak and Abo can be extremely racist and predjudical if used by a non-indigenous person. I do however believe that these can be acceptable if used by aboriginal people referring to themselves or other indigenous people with their permission to use the terms to refer to them.

  • Yes! Settlers who call Indigenous people 'our Indigenous people' or the racial problem in 'our own backyard' in contrast to American race issues need to check their colonising language. We don't belong to them and to assume we belong to Australia is to deny our sovereignty and independent identity.

  • I grew up with a really strong sense of culture from my grandfather who is from *mob*, however my grandmother has little knowledge of her country, people, language, or doesn’t speak about it for unknown reasons, however I still identify myself as a *mob* woman because I feel a sense of connection and identity knowing that’s my grandmothers country. Not sure this adds anything, but it’s certainly helped the way I identity myself to others.

  • People should just ask how us Mob want to be identified - it’s personal to each of us

  • As a fair skinned Blakfulla I love when mob call me blakfulla - makes me feel bloody proud

  • It would just be really nice for white Australia to learn more about different mobs and country and in a dream world I’d like them to be confident in talking about each place and understanding pronunciation.

  • The key thing with terminology is to make sure it is respectful and that it is not taking away from that persons identity or their link to culture. It is always best to be mindful of those things. Especially when thinking about what terminology to use for other people. It’s always most respectful to ask what they prefer to be referred as - because everyone has their own preference and own personal views on appropriate terminology for themselves

  • Their is no percentage you are either Aboriginal or not.

  • Language matters. It contains violence and is often used to perpetrate violence onto our bodies and minds.

  • Words do hold a lot of power and I think once you become an adult there's no excuse to not learn and unlearn the things we have all been taught and align them with your own views. I am still trying to correct myself at times and a lot of that comes from participating in conversations like this one.

  • I feel like how we identify is an extremely personal thing as mob across the country have had different experiences. Growing up in Victoria we were heavily affected by the stolen gen, being 2nd generation off mission life as well as growing up in a town that had 4 children homes and being white passing. How I feel about how people identify me is very different from my partner who is darker and grew up in towns surrounded by black fullas because of our life experiences.

  • This is an awesome quiz! I feel as though we need to talk more about the proper terminology

  • A common word used up here in the NT to describe community mob is “Full blood” or “Fully”. I’ll never be referred to by these names as I am often confused as being another race, but nevertheless I believe it is offensive and should be left in the past.

  • It’s not a big deal to me if people use the incorrect terminology (if it’s unintentional and not trying to be offensive) as long as they’re willing to listen and understand why I don’t like that and then not say it again

  • Everyone’s going to have their own personal preference because each to their own. But I think as a people it’s important that we use terms that are enduring and lift us up.

  • i think the context and how well you know people around you can also play a big role...offensive names can be called in jest and dont have the same meaning when said by another person in a different context..

  • I hope people see from this survey that there are a range of opinions about this topic. People want us to give one term or label so it's easy for them. People can probably stay safe in the grey area of "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander" and "Indigenous". Hopefully this will show what terms are more commonly regarded as offensive or ill-favoured so people stay clear.