One way to spend purposeful time with your family can be through exploring culture and history that’s important to you. There are many ways in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can celebrate their history with Indigenous communities, especially during NAIDOC Week.
Every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family is at a different stage of the journey of connecting with their Indigenous community. Whatever stage you’re at, here are a few suggestions for some meaningful activities for you and your teen to learn more about your culture.
If you’re looking for tips on how to connect your teen to their mob and build pride in their culture, check out our article about that here.
1. Check out what’s on at this year’s NAIDOC Week
NAIDOC Week is held every year, beginning on the first Sunday in July. The week-long event celebrates the culture and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
During the week, First Nations people around the country will meet at community-run events. There are so many different ways to get involved and have fun during this year’s NAIDOC Week.
Some of these events include:
- family fun days (including performances, petting zoos, art displays and more)
- art exhibitions (visual and audio storytelling from the perspective of Indigenous artists)
- Dreamtime story retelling (both books and speakers)
- group dinners/lunches
- First Nations public speakers sharing their experiences or stories.
Check out this year’s official schedule on the NAIDOC website here.
2. See some First Nations art with your teen
You’ll find Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art on display in thousands of art galleries throughout Australia. A trip to a local gallery is not only a really fun and engaging way to spend time with your teen, but there’s also a lot to be learnt from the experience.
Here are a few ways that you can see First Nations art with your teen:
- Big national and state-run galleries like the Art Gallery of NSW, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Queensland Art Gallery have sections for art made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The National Gallery of Australia, in Canberra, has the largest collection of Indigenous Australian art in the world.
- Around the country, there are lots of smaller galleries that are owned and operated by First Nations artists. They include the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative in Sydney, the Mandel Aboriginal Art Gallery in Melbourne, the Japinga Aboriginal Art Gallery in Perth and the Birrunga Gallery in Brisbane.
- You can see traditional Indigenous rock artworks around Australia through bushwalking. Some of this art is believed to be 30,000 or more years old. This is a great list of Indigenous rock art sites around Sydney, but wherever you are in Australia there are likely sites you can walk to and experience the art where it was created.
3. Check out some films made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
If art isn’t what keeps your teen interested, maybe movies could be more their speed.
The last few decades have seen a number of First Nations directors become prominent in the film industry, such as Wayne Blair, Rachel Perkins and Warwick Thornton. These filmmakers are making a wide variety of films and movies that you and your teen might enjoy. Depending on what your preferences are, you might choose a film such as The Sapphires (2012) which is a musical comedy-drama film, or Samson and Delilah (2009) which is a drama/romance film with more mature themes.
Regardless of what films you might find for you and your teen to watch together, the First Nations film industry is certainly something to keep an eye on for sincere and thought-provoking retellings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait culture and stories.
4. Attend a play performed by a First Nations theatre company
Movies aren’t the only popular way of telling a story, though. Plays long predate movies, and they’re just as fantastic a way to tell a compelling story (and are more interactive, too!).
Indigenous Australian plays can be an incredibly captivating experience. For example, Bran Nue Dae is a musical comedy-drama that follows the story of a young Aboriginal Australian boy who runs away from a boarding school in an attempt to return to his true home.
If this kind of storytelling interests you, we recommend checking out your local First Nations theatre organisations to find what plays might be being performed soon. Here are some examples to get you started:
- Moogahlin Performing Arts, based in Redfern, NSW
- Ilbijerri Theatre Company, based in Melbourne
- Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, based in Perth.
Plays can be a great way to connect with a narrative and really ‘feel’ out the story that’s being told in front of you.
5. Take a guided culture walking tour through Country
Guided walks through nature can be a fantastic way to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture while having a fun day out with your teen.
Guided group walking tours are walks through Indigenous lands with a leader who takes the group to see different landmarks or sites.
Some of the most popular guided walks include tours through the World Heritage listed site the Daintree Rainforest, which is home to the Kuku Yalanji people.
There are also numerous different cultural tours available. These are essentially tours that allow you to meet the Traditional Custodians of areas throughout Australia. An example of this would be in Gulaga, NSW, where you can learn more about the stories, history and culture of the land as told by its original inhabitants.
Click here for a list of First Nations guided walks all over Australia.
6. See a live musical performance by a First Nations artist
Events such as NAIDOC Week have helped bring many different First Nations artists into the spotlight and to the attention of the mainstream Australian media.
There are many different types of musical performers, whether singers or musicians, who we recommend you check out at live performances. Whether you and your teen are interested in indie/pop (Emily Wurramurra), hip-hop (Ziggy Ramo) or even electronic (Zaachariaha Fielding), there is bound to be something to check out that supports up-and-coming Indigenous Australian artists.
These are just a few of the many unique and enjoyable ways to embrace the storied and rich history of First Nations peoples and culture. Hopefully we’ve helped guide you into some plans for at least a couple of fun outings with your teen, or inspired you to come up with some ideas of your own.
It’s important to take the time to appreciate the culture and story of our nation, and how it originated. The rich culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is an essential part of our national identity, and sharing in this culture with your teen will see these traditions live on through the next generation.