Skip to Main Content

Indigenous Australian Cultures & Heritage: Cultures & Heritage

Student and Teacher resources for study of Indigenous Australian cultures and heritage, and reconciliation

Acknowledgement of Country

We humbly and respectfully acknowledge the mouheneenner people of the South East Nation as the original custodians of the unceded kriwa lands on which this School stands; lands taken violently and without consent. We sadly acknowledge that none of the mouheneenner people are believed to have survived colonisation. We acknowledge that these lands have been nurtured and protected by countless generations of Tasmanian Aboriginal people. The Hutchins School recognises and is deeply grateful for the continuing custodianship of their land. We acknowledge the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and their Elders, past, present, and emerging, as well as First Nations people from other lands who may be here. As a school, we commit to walking together with Tasmanian Aboriginal people to pursue healing through Voice, Treaty and Truth-Telling.

First Nations Peoples

Take a closer look at a variety of First Nations topics with the following resources:


The Australian Institute for Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)

  AIATSIS is an Indigenous-led, national institute that celebrates, educates and inspires people from all walks of life to connect with the knowledge, heritage and cultures of Australia’s First Peoples. As well as research and publishing, AIATSIS curates a collection of more than 1 million items - encompassing films, photographs, audio recordings, art and objects, printed and other resource materials - dedicated to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories. Their website offers opportunities to search their collection; access guides and resources to assist with family history research; curriculum resources; explore cultural and historical aspects of the diverse story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia, as well as news, events, podcasts, blogs, and more. - Australian Government

   This website is designed to connect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with Australian Government policies and programs and raise awareness about the initiatives that affect them most. It shares news and events as well as stories from individuals, communities and organisations across Australia; real stories about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the challenges and opportunities facing them, and the successes and achievements being demonstrated every day.

National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA)

   The role of the NIAA is to  implement the Government’s policies and programs to improve the lives of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The site goes into detail about the various areas of government focus with regard to First Nations peoples and includes news and associated resources.



ABC Indigenous Portal

   This site collects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories from around Australia, showcasing the latest Indigenous stories and features from ABC radio, news and current affairs, TV, and iview. Podcasts, documentaries, language and NAIDOC focused articles, as well as news and opinion pieces can all be accessed via this resource.

Koori Mail: The Voice of Indigenous Australia

   The Koori Mail is a fortnightly national newspaper reporting on issues of importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and those interested in Indigenous affairs. Established in 1991, and still Aboriginal-owned, this publication provides news, views, advertisements, and other material of interest to its readers. Their back archive is available and fully searchable via the AIATSIS website.

Behind the News - Indigenous Culture

   Behind the News is an educational program for upper primary / lower secondary level, explaining news and current affairs. This page provides access to a collection of short, easy-to-understand videos about First Nations events and topics. 


Culture and Heritage

Creative Spirits

   This site explores aspects of First Nations culture with well-referenced articles, infographics and multimedia. Divided into four main sections - Culture, Resources, Multimedia, and Interactive - the site deals with a variety of cultural topics, provides access to appropriate resources from an educational standpoint, photo galleries and videos, as well as trivia and quizzes to test newly acquired knowledge.

Share Our Pride  

   An initiative of Reconciliation Australia, this website is designed to give non-Indigenous people a glimpse into the lives and cultures of Australia’s First People. Providing simple and introductory content it aims to raise awareness and can be used as a starting point for a number of First Nations topics such as identity, culture, intergenerational trauma, and family and kinship.


   This website focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writing and storytelling, recording information about the lives, careers, and works of First Nations writers and storytellers, as well as their formative and influencing literary cultures and traditions. Covering all forms of creative writing, including film television, criticism, and scholarship, BlackWords also publishes research outcomes, full text, datasets, teaching material, and other curated content to deepen knowledge and understanding of storytelling in Australia. Be aware that some full text content is subscriber access only.

The First Australians - National Museum of Australia

   Referring to the National Museum's largest gallery, First Australians enables the exploration of shared stories and experiences of First Nations people across Australia. The page provides links to a variety of text, audio, and video resources about Indigenous culture and history, defining moments in Australia's history, an additional focus on the Torres Strait Islands, as well as touching on the museum's Talking Blak to History exhibition which explores the aftermath of colonisation and issues such as land rights, sovereignty, the Stolen Generations, and deaths in custody.

First Nations at the Australian Museum

Ghost Net Sculpture

 Ghost Net Sculpture from Garrigarrung: Sea Country Exhibition

The Australian Museum has one of the world's most significant First Nations collections, representing First Nations communities from across Australia with a diverse range of artworks, technologies, and cultural material. As a platform for First Nations voices this website includes a collection of articles on issues important to First Nations people by First Nations writers; the First Nations lecture series and links to explore the museum's collections. 

Investigate further with the following exhibitions.

Indigenous Australians: Australia's First Peoples exhibition 1996-2005

   Through multimedia, art, cultural material and collection objects, this exhibition explored five core themes: Family; Social Justice; Cultural Heritage; Spirituality; and The Land. This page provides detailed information about many aspects within these themes, including the stolen generation, reconciliation, and land rights, among others.


   Presenting a First Nations perspective of the foundation of Australia, this exhibition is divided into eight thematic sections: Introduction, Signal Fires, Recognising Invasions, Fighting Wars, Remembering Massacres, Surviving Genocide, Continued Resistance, and Healing Nations. It features over 190 objects and images, many of which have not before been publicly available to view. As well as detailed descriptions of each section and a selection of its exhibits, this page includes a full virtual tour of the exhibition as a whole.

Bayala Nura: Yarning Country

   This exhibition is a celebration of Australia's Indigenous communities through objects and stories of living culture, with a focus on the yarning (storytelling) tradition. This page gives a summary and highlights of the exhibition.

Garrigarrang: Sea Country

   In this exhibition, discover Australia's Salt Water People, and their cultures and spiritual traditions. From the Sydney Basin to the Torres Strait, 'Sea Country' encompasses the entirety of Australia's coastline. This page gives a summary and highlights of the exhibition, with links to Ghost Net sculptures as a way of telling traditional stories.

Songlines: Indigenous Australian Creation Stories

'Songline' is a complex term referring to the Indigenous Australian belief systems surrounding the interconnectedness of land, spirituality, knowledge and values; and are thus key aspect of the oral traditions present in these cultures. 

     "Songlines are a library of information. They are many things: a road map, a bible, our history. The examples and stories in songlines guide the way we live and give us our unique cultural identities . . . The songs that the old people sing and pass along, they are about the country and the sacred places where songs belong."  - Cornel Ozies (Director, Songlines on Screen)


The following resources and articles discuss songlines in further detail, including definitions, deeper meanings, examples, and links to further reading.

   Songlines - Deadly Story

   Songlines - Common Ground

   Songlines: the Indigenous memory code - ABC RN

   Enchanted Earth: Scientists know the world through data, but Aboriginal Australians know the world through the ancient musical traditions of songlines - Lateral Magazine

   Why Songlines Are Important In Aboriginal Art - Japingka Aboriginal Art


In 2015/2016 Screen Australia and NITV collaborated to present a documentary series of short films called the 'Songlines on Screen' initiative. These films, from remote areas of Western, Northern, and Central Australia, present the First Nations Peoples' connection to land and culture through traditional creation songs. 

   Songlines on Screen - Screen Australia

   Landmark documentary series Songlines On Screen – coming soon - NITV

   Learn Indigenous Australian creation stories - 'Songlines on Screen' multimedia features - NITV

Each short film is available to view via ClickView. 

  • Footprints [12:57 min]: It's 2014 and a group of young Aboriginal men from a tribe on the verge of losing their songlines have just discovered that a law boss from a neighbouring tribe knows some of their cultural songs and dances. They have not been performed for more than 50 years and it was thought they had been lost forever. The songs and dances were given to the men’s tribe, the Djugun tribe, by their creator during the Buguragarri (the Dreamtime). 
  • Naji [9:19 min]: Naji is a story from the Bugarregarre time, the dreamtime. The spirit beings came out of the ocean and woke up the silent, barren land as they moved from Dabberdabbergun in the West to the land of the rising sun, creating life and importantly, water, as they travel. This creation story comes to life through the use of re-enactments as Richard Hunter, an elder of the Goolarabooloo people recounts the steps of his first people.
  • Tjawa Tjawa [11:30 min]: Tjawa Tjawa songline follows a group of women in search of husbands. Travelling from Roebourne all the way to Kiwikurra in the Great Sandy Desert to the south of Balgo. A long journey with many stories along the way about how the women came to their end, only to come alive again and continue to travel the lands. *Includes ATOM Study Guide
  • Goorrandalng: Brolga Dreaming [10:59 min]: Goorrandalng is a song and a story. The Goorrandalng song is about brolgas. It's from Granny Sheba Dignari's mother and is sung all the time for country, keeping it strong. Goorrandalng is also the name of the dreaming place, at Keep River National Park in the Northern Territory, where women can go to become pregnant. In the Goorrandalng dreamtime story, women went to the special place and turned into brolgas.
  • Bulunu Milkarri [25:05 min]: One woman’s journey to learn an endangered songline from remote Arnhem Land that explores cycles of death, life, rain, tears and the replenishment and abundance of land, sea and spirit, and the quest to ensure this ancient songline is practiced for generations to come. *Includes ATOM Study Guide
  • Wurray [12:43 min]: Yolngu song men trace the epic dreamtime story of their great nomadic warrior, Wurray, across the wilderness of North East Arnhem Land. *Includes ATOM Study Guide
  • Wardbukkarra [12:50 min *Wurray is also included on this video]: The story of the creation of the first people of Western Arnhem Land and the battle between good and evil resulting in the songs and stories handed down today.
  • Ngapa Jukurrpa: Water Dreaming [33:43 min]: The Ngapa Jukurrpa is a series of rain creation songs that travel across Central Australia. The Ngapa spirit gathers as cloud and is a warrior, building strength. It moves west across the Ngalikirlangu landforms and into the Tanami Desert. It passes over the water dreaming site of Juka Juka where Warlpiri rain makers perform using pearl shells from Broome. After a long journey, the story keeps heading north to Arnhem Land.
  • Damari and Guyala: A Story of Two Brothers [10:10 min]: Before the whiteman arrived, two brothers Damari and Guyala, made their way down the east coast of Australia. They came seeking shelter and food after a long journey from the North and made a stopover near the land of the Mandingalbay Yidinji tribe of the Cairns area. The story of betrayal, lies and loyalty is told in the language of the Mandingalbay Yidinji elder David Mundraby. *Includes ATOM Study Guide

Terminology & Language

These terms are acceptable to the community:  Tasmanian Aboriginals

                                                                            Tasmanian Aboriginal Peoples

These terms are acceptable globally:  First Nations

                                                             First Nations Peoples 

The following resources discuss appropriate language and terminology to use when referring to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and topics:
Indigenous Australians: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - AIATSIS

Terminology Guide - Narragunnawali

Demonstrating inclusive and respectful language - Reconciliation Australia

Appropriate words & terminology for First Nations topics - Creative Spirits

What is the correct term for Aboriginal people? - Creative Spirits

Glossary of Healing Terms: A guide to key terms related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing - Healing Foundation

Gambay First Languages Map

This interactive map has been developed by First Languages Australia with regional language centres across Australia. Reflecting names and groupings favoured by community the map promotes the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. Additional resources and teaching notes are available.

Audio-Visual Resources

This Land is Mine by Kev Carmody & Paul Kelly was written for the film One Night the Moon. The film tells us the true story of a station owner’s refusal to accept help from an Aboriginal tracker in the search for his missing daughter. The song explores the different ways in which the tracker and farmer relate to the land. In the second video Kev Carmody discusses writing the song and the perspectives behind it.



   This ABC Radio National program focuses on Aboriginal arts and culture from across Australia, as well as highlighting radio from Indigenous broadcasters worldwide. A regular feature is 'Word Up' which allows guests to share words from their Indigenous language and the meaning they hold. The show is presented by Bundjalung and Kullilli man Daniel Browning.

Speaking Out

   Presenting politics, arts, and culture from a range of Indigenous perspectives this ABC Radio program can be accessed as a podcast. It is presented by Gamilaroi and Eualeyai woman Professor Larissa Behrendt.

Fierce Girls

   This collection of educational podcast episodes explores the lives and achievements of significant Indigenous Australian women. Includes: Ash Barty; Molly Kelly; Mary Ann Bugg; Queenie McKenzie; Mumaring Daisy Bindi; Yukultji Napangati; and Faith Coulthard.


TEDx Talks

Explore the TEDx Talks video library by using the search field for topics related to First Nations Australians, perspectives, and issues. 



Log into ClickView to view the following videos; most of these have additional resources or notes available to download, so check out the Resource tab to the right of the video screen.

Land, Kinship, and Culture [24:06 min]

   Exploring the role of Indigenous culture in traditional and urban societies, this resource focuses on such issues as how culture has changed over time, how Indigenous people survive in modern Australia, and determining the role of the arts and importance of language.

Cooldrink and Culture [22:20 min]

   Discover the importance of bush food in Indigenous culture and its relationship to good health and quality of life. A group of young women from the Aboriginal community of Mt Liebig (300km west of Alice Springs) discuss community life, the effect of outside influences, and teach a group of children how to find and prepare bush foods.

Modern Indigenous Culture [35:03 min]

  Looking at a variety of new and emerging artists, and their artistic expressions, see how they maintain the integrity, connectedness, authenticity, and originality in a cultural context.

Walking, Dancing, Belonging [22:16 min]

   Three female Indigenous artists share how they express their sense of belonging and relationship to country through artwork, dance, and song, as well as their reasons for doing so. Hear stories of their Dreaming, land, and experiences growing up as station workers in the Kununurra area. This film presents the views and stories of Elders in the community and is spoken in language. 

Aboriginal Art: Materials and Practice [28:20 min]

   This interview-based program explores the relationship between country, perspectives and context, materials and process, technique, style, and the Aboriginal art industry, as well as how personal and cultural identity is represented through artistic expression. Guests include: Brook Andrew; Bindi Cole; desert artist, Otto; Australian art historian, Dr Susan Lowish; and curator, Phillip Batty, among others. This resource is useful for the fine art, art history, and cultural studies topics.

Aboriginal Art: Philosophy and Culture [28:21 min]

   This interview-based program explores what is meant by 'Aboriginal art', inspiration and influence, interpretation and symbolism, meanings and messages, and the cultural functions of art. Guests include: Brook Andrew; Bindi Cole; desert artist, Otto; Australian art historian, Dr Susan Lowish; and curator, Phillip Batty, among others. This resource is useful for the fine art, art history, and cultural studies topics.

In My Blood It Runs [feature documentary, runtime 1:20:42] 

   This documentary is told from the perspective of 10-year-old Arrernte/Garrwa boy, Dujuan and his family; and focuses on the challenges faced in school and on the streets of Alice Springs. ClickView has also made available a Professional Development Webinar [58:21] in which a panel of First Nations experts discuss the documentary's themes; including: truth-telling, tokenism, bias, self-determination, and the UN's Indigenous Peoples' Rights Declaration. This is best viewed from a teaching perspective, and there are a variety of associated resources available for download.

First Australians [series, runtime approx. 52 min per episode]

   This SBS documentary series explores the history of Australia from an Indigenous perspective, from the first fleet's arrival in Sydney in 1788 to the Mabo case for Indigenous land rights in 1993. All 7 episodes are available via ClickView, SBS On Demand, and YouTube.


First Footprints [series, runtime approx. 57 min per episode]

   Presented by Ernie Dingo, this documentary series looks at the history of Australia's Indigenous peoples prior to colonisation - including how Indigenous Australians arrived, adapted, and thrived - through oral stories, new archaeological discoveries, stunning art, cinematic CGI and never before seen archival film. Each episode is available to view via ClickView, and YouTube. Each of the following episode links includes an ATOM Study Guide as an additional resource.


The First Inventors [series, runtime approx. 47 min per episode]

   This four-part NITV documentary series explores more than 65,000 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, technologies, and culture. Presented and narrated by Tiwi Islander man Rob Collins, along with a team of First Nations investigators, the series looks at the innovations, knowledge systems, and science of Indigenous Australia; including topics of: navigation; aeronautics; kinship; memory; trade; communication; and more. This ClickView playlist offers clips of individual stories within each episode for easy selection. Additional resources include activity sheets for each story, curriculum mapping, teacher guide, and question sheet. Each episode is available to view via ClickView, SBS On Demand; 10Play, [*Be aware SBS On Demand and 10Play require accounts to view content] 

Other resources include the ClickView-curated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures playlist, which incorporates a variety of topics and perspectives.



NITV (National Indigenous Television) is an Australian free-to-air television channel that broadcasts programming produced and presented largely by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Check out the 'Best of NITV' to view movies, series and special events that span genres and centre Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian experiences. 

*Be aware that some programs on this site may require an SBS On Demand account in order to view content.