Kinship Systems

Kinship is a term that is used to describe how people relate to one other in different cultures. In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, the concept of kinship is complex, and has wide implications in Indigenous life and social structure. Kinship is a complex system that determines how everyone…

'The Dreaming'

The 'Dreaming' or the 'Dreamtime' is an Indigenous-Australian oral history of the world and its creation. Passed down through generations, these stories commonly feature characters who display undesirable behaviours, and face retribution because of it. In this way, the Dreaming illustrates rules for living and interacting with the natural environment.…

'Aborigine' or Aboriginal - what's the difference?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Indigenous, Aboriginal, Aborigine, Blackfella, First Nations or First Australians? The terms have come to take on different meanings to different people, wrapped in the history and politics of the time. While there's not a unanimous view, some words are more appropriate to use than…

Knowledge and Sustainability

When a group of urban university students are asked, “What springs to mind when you think of Aboriginal Australia, past and present?”, a mostly ignorant but well-intentioned chorus respond with those familiar ramblings related to “nomadic life”, conjuring colonial visions of the primitive Other. Architecture, land cultivation and land management,…

Connection to country

Land is of great significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - but the connection we feel to country can be a difficult concept for non-Indigenous people to grasp. The living environment goes beyond physical elements, and is fundamental to our identity. For First Australians, “country” encompasses an interdependent…

Indigenous Languages - Avoiding a silent future

In 2002 Big Bill Niedjie passed away, and Indigenous Australian’s lost an outstanding leader. Among the many eulogies voiced by people and organisations across the nation, Northern Land Council chairman Galarrwuy Yunupingu said Big Bill’s constant endeavour to bridge the cultural and historical divide between black and white…

The 'real Aboriginie' - Diverse Identities

Culture, not colour, is the heart of Aboriginal identity Cathy Freeman’s racial background is Chinese, English and Aboriginal. AAP/ Dean Lewins Victoria Grieves, University of Sydney All too often the matter of Australian Aboriginal identity is decided superficially – by looking at a person’s face and general appearance. Colour…

On Happiness

Happiness born of connectedness lifts up Aboriginal Australians Larissa Behrendt, University of Technology Sydney This article is part of a series, On Happiness, examining what it means and how it might be achieved in the 21st century. I recently spent some time on an outstation in the Northern Territory. Unless…

Acknowledgement of Country

Acknowledgement of Country An ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ is used to pay respect to the fact that we are on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land. It can be done by everyone, Indigenous or non-Indigenous. An Acknowledgement of Country will often highlight the unique position of First Australians in Australian culture…

Death and Sorry Business

First Australian's have a unique and complex process to overcome grief that ensures as communities we can move past death and commemorate those that we have lost with consideration and celebration. The base of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies is the concept of community rather than individual. This means…