An Indigenous youth foundation has condemned the reaction to a social media post about traditional weaving, saying it is a “real shame” that online commenters are still “targeting young people” weeks after it was initially shared.

Key points:

  • The Tjindu Foundation shared a video showing young people weaving
  • The group says it has been inundated with racist and offensive comments
  • The group’s co-founder says it will be “a relief” when the referendum is over

The post — which aims to connect young people with Ngarrindjeri elders, and shows them being “engrossed in culture” — was posted by the Tjindu Foundation in August.

The Adelaide-based foundation runs youth programs for First Nations children as well as delivering cultural awareness workshops for students, companies and governments.

It often posts happy snaps of young people playing sport and participating in activities on its social media, which usually attracts a few supportive comments and likes.

But co-founder Pauly Vandenbergh said the video about a group of students learning basket-weaving was inundated with 300 comments, including racist abuse and references to the No vote – even though the post had nothing to do with Saturday’s referendum.

“That’s the real worry growing at the moment, how our young people are coping,” he said.

“Our young people are still seeing that racism is alive and well and it’s rearing its ugly head time and time again and unfortunately they get to see this and see this play out over social media.

“It’s attracting, I guess, unwanted sort of commentary from — to call it how it is — it’s probably racist people, and I think that’s what the referendum has actually created, a real bad attitude towards Aboriginal people.”

Mr Vandenbergh said people who were posting such comments should be “ashamed of themselves”.

“Unfortunately it only further reiterates that we still have a challenge and we still have an issue in Australia around racism and what some of our families and communities continue to put up [with] on a daily basis,” he said.

The video shows young people learning the craft of weaving.(Facebook: Tjindu Foundation)

Mr Vandenbergh said the issue was not limited to the Tjindu Foundation.

“We set up the foundation three years ago to help support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to complete their education and transition to meaningful employment,” he said.

“I think a lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are feeling a really heavy burden, particularly online and particularly on social media.

“And a lot of us have had to turn off our comment section and it’s really quite sad.

“The referendum — regardless of which way you vote — we should be able to do this respectfully and with dignity and it doesn’t need to [turn] into racism and it doesn’t need to create divide.”

Pauly Vandenbergh says it is a “shame” that some on social media feel they can target young people.(ABC News: Matthew Smith)

Mr Vandenbergh said it would be “a relief” once the referendum is over, and he hoped for “a level of calmness come Sunday”.

“We can only hope that there’s a better future and hopefully once the referendum’s out the way we can start to work out what does progress look like for us as a country,” he said.