In 2012, Luke Pearson made the simple decision to change his Twitter handle to @IndigenousX. The former primary school teacher was frustrated with the lack of awareness and respect around Indigenous culture and thought this small change might make the difference.
It was this seemingly tiny tweak that has allowed for an entire national dialogue to open up about the real life experience of Indigenous people within Australia. Harnessing the power of true, lived stories, each week a new Indigenous guest takes to their keyboard and uses the Twitter account as a shared platform to discuss what’s going on in their world.
“I’d been on Twitter for a while and I think I just realised the potential to tap into different audiences,” he tells Collective Hub. “I think Facebook is very much centered around who you already know and the friends of friends, whereas Twitter is really more centered around common interests and stories and just completely random people.”
Since its conception four years ago, hosts from all walks of lives, professions and economic status have taken part – from bloggers to actors and politicians to academics – all with the same agenda; to spread awareness. With the Twitter account growing significantly (at 27,000 followers and counting), IndigenousX has garnered a strong digital presence across various online platforms, with the creation of similar Facebook, Instagram and YouTube platforms. With strong numbers and increased attention, continuing the conversation has become an even more important part of the IndigenousX movement for Luke.
“We’ll get messages online from an individual [who] is a single mum who’s not Indigenous with Indigenous kids,” he points out, “the links that have been shared or the resources that have been promoted or the conversations that have happened have given them a point of entry to share with their kids about Indigenous issues.”
Alongside the conversation, IndigenousX has also made significant fundraising traction, raising around AU$300,000 for various projects and forming a partnership with the Guardian Australia, making regular commentary on their platforms.
With a passion for teaching, education has always been a part of Luke’s DNA. “I think it’s just something that’s always been a part of my personality,” he explains. “As you go through the teaching degree, and you pick up the tools of the trade [and] you realise you can kind of apply that to all areas of life. I work very much on the principle if you understand something, you can help other people at least share your understanding.”
But instead of focusing on a ‘preaching’ style of education, Luke aims to make IndigenousX a discursive forum without a right or wrong answer. Luke quickly realising that this method was the right one.
“There are audiences for this, people do want to know about this and they don’t just want to hear about Aboriginal people, they want to hear from Aboriginal people.”
With rest not being on the cards anytime soon, Luke hopes to expand the conversation across even more mediums. “We’ve been putting a lot of effort into our website recently and I’m very mindful that with IndigenousX there is a limit on having just 52 hosts a year whereas on a website we can publish as many stories as we can, so there’s a great opportunity to get more stuff for more Indigenous voices on that platform. I’d also really like to move into video and podcasts and other online media forms but real life events.”
Luke also dreams of carving new pathways so there’s room for everyone to participate in the changing dialogue.
“We hope we inspire change in the way people run their own businesses and particularly people involved in Indigenous stuff actually bringing more Indigenous people into the heart of what they do,” he says.