My goal for 2022 was to Cultivate routines to expand my knowledge and experiences and one of the habits I chose to support working towards my goal was to invest one hour a week learning about our First Nations Peoples. Reconciliation NSW recommends learning and understanding more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ histories, Cultures, Languages, technology and land management techniques as educating yourself is the first step in the journey towards reconciliation.
My knowledge and understanding was severely lacking and I wanted to change this. As I noted in my annual review for 2022 my knowledge has increased so significantly over this year and part of me does feel embarrassed that I had and still have so much to learn. I am set up well for ongoing learning as throughout the year as I have subscribed to a number of podcasts and newsletters which are either created by First Nations Peoples or address the significant issues faced by them.
Each month in my monthly reviews, I noted some resources that I had read, watched or listened to that helped increase my knowledge and understanding of our First Nations Peoples. I have listed them below month by month in the hope that it is a resource for others who are also trying to educate themselves.
January resources to learn more about our First Nations Peoples
First Australians Documentary Series – this is freely available on SBS on Demand and was such an excellent starting point for my learning. There are seven episodes and each one has a specific focus. I highly recommend watching from start to finish but I did choose one episode for the younger kids to watch which was episode three and it focused on the first Australians of Victoria at the time Wurundjeri clan and their leader Simon Wonga. The absolute bravery, tenacity and determination shown by the First Nations People to just survive their unjust treatment was amazing.
The Indigenous population of Victoria was estimated to be at least 11,500 before the founding of Melbourne in 1835.
Less than 30 years later frontier violence and the introduction of European diseases had decimated the population and only about 2000 Aboriginal people survived.Source – National Museum of Australia
All non-indigenous people living on the land of the Wurundjeri should watch this episode to learn how the First Nations people were treated at Coranderrk.
- Podcast – Historical insights into Racism in Australia with Aboriginal Elder Colin Jones – Indigenous Health MedTalk Podcast – this podcast is the audio from a lecture presented by Elder Colin Jones at a Cultural Immersion for GP registrars at Bunya Mountains. Jones has a wonderful presentation style that is engaging, impactful, and full of knowledge accrued from both lived experience and his extensive formal education.
- Instagram Post – 8 Things To Know About Jan 26 By Taneshia Atkinson via @clothingthegaps Instagram page – this is a must-read for all.
- Podcast – Frontier War Stories – Michael Organ – Australia’s founding figures – Michael Organ is a former Australian politician, archivist and local historian. He discusses three key figures Lieutenant James Cook, Admiral (First Governor) Arthur Phillip and Major General (Fifth Governor) Lachlan Macquarie and why understandably, Aboriginal people do not celebrate them.
February resources to learn more about our First Nations Peoples
- I watched Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky on SBS on Demand. This documentary is very entertaining as well as providing a more informative perspective on Cook. Presenter, co-writer and slam poet Steven Oliver talks with other First Nations Peoples to highlight a different view of Cook than what we might have been taught at school. The concept of songlines is strong throughout the doco. Songlines trace the journeys of ancestral spirits as they created the land, animals and lore. Integral to Aboriginal spirituality, songlines are deeply tied to the Australian landscape and provide important knowledge, cultural values and wisdom to Indigenous people.
- Podcast – Frontier War Stories – Dr Mariko Smith – Unsettled – Dr Mariko Smith is a Yuin & Japanese museum curator, visual sociologist, historian and works at the Australian Museum. I found their discussion on Aboriginal resistance leaders, massacres, battles that are highlighted in the exhibition compelling and with each episode I listen to of this podcast I gain more understanding as to why it is called Frontier War Stories.
March resources to learn more about our First Nations Peoples
- I read Dark Emu this month and I also attended an online workshop – Warndu Indigenous Education Place. Taste. Story. You needed to book a few weeks in advance for the session as they send you out small samples of indigenous foods. You can see pictured above my cup of lemon myrtle and quandong tea I had at the start of the session! Damien Coulthard and Margie Tilbrook host the session and they help you get a better understanding of the importance of food in relation to place and culture, they discuss songlines and the diversity of Aboriginal identities and experiences. The next one is in May if you are keen to attend and you can find out more and buy tickets here.
April resources to learn more about our First Nations Peoples
- Documentary – Another Country – The great Australian Aboriginal actor David Dalaithngu tells the tale of ‘Another Country’, a story of what happened when his people’s way of life was interrupted by ours. I did enjoy this doco but I have to admit to finding it slow. I think this is an indictment on me and not the film. The film pauses between commentary to show beautiful scenes of nature, scenes of living conditions, etc. which is important. Dalaithngu at one point talks about how white fella time is different and that made me reflect on why did I find the doco slow and what that says about me.
- Podcast – How a health clinic on a school campus is improving Indigenous health – Time To Listen – Indigenous Australians have an average life expectancy 19 years below that of wider Queensland and an unparalleled lack of access to healthcare services. And the health gaps start early. The host interviews some of the team from Ngak Min Health, a clinic co-located on the grounds of Djarragun College in Gordonvale, just south of Cairns, and how this initiative is getting great results.
- Podcast – Building power during an election – Talk Black – I found this podcast super interesting and also disturbing in terms of how changes that were made around the last election with regards to updating the electoral roll (29 min mark), caused indigenous vote suppression. They also spoke about how important health is in this election in terms of doing something about closing the gap. This just adds in my mind to the very long list of reasons why we need to have a First Nations Voice in the Federal Parliament. The idea of the First Nations Voice is something new to me this year and something that I 100% support.
May resources to learn more about our First Nations Peoples
- The Soils Project – The Soils Project: groundwork is a series of three webinars presented by Struggles for Sovereignty (Indonesia), TarraWarra Museum of Art, and the Van Abbemuseum (Netherlands). I attended the first webinar which was hosted by the TarraWarra Museum of Art and the Wandoon Estate Aboriginal Corporation. Dave Wandin was a key speaker for the session and he was so amazing to listen to. He has such love for his country and people.
- Dave works at Coranderrk. Coranderrk was an Aboriginal Station that opened in 1863 and became home to Aboriginal people from across Victoria whose lands had been stolen from them during colonalisation. It is located on Wurundjeri land and the Wandoon Estate Aboriginal Corporation (WEAC) are its custodians and managers. Dave shared how they are prepared to take the long-term approach to be truly sustainable in the way they manage Coranderrk – there is so much we can learn from Indigenous land management! They are currently reintroducing bush foods local to the area and ensuring a balance of biodiversity. Dave finished off his talk by describing the soil as our mother – we call come from it and we all have a duty to look after it.
- Reconciliation Week Oration with Adam Briggs – This event was hosted by the City of Melbourne and Aboriginal Melbourne as part of Reconciliation Week. If you haven’t heard of @senatorbriggs you really need to check out his work. He is a Yorta Yorta man, rapper, record label owner, comedy writer, actor, and author. He is also someone definitely worth following on Twitter too!
- Briggs talked about his childhood and why he creates the work he does. As a kid, everything was in the past tense when it came to Aboriginal people. It was like growing up in a country where people preferred you weren’t there. But as an Aboriginal kid growing up you want to feel validated and that you are seen.
- Briggs set out to make the things that weren’t there when he was young. He wanted to give to his people the thing he wished he had growing up.
- He discussed his mixed feelings about Reconciliation week and noted that we will not meet our potential as a nation without embracing the Aboriginal identity of this country.
- Definitely check out Briggs’s work. You can find his music on Spotify and Youtube and get his children’s book Our Home, Our Heartbeat online at Booktopia and in good bookstores.
June resources to learn more about our First Nations Peoples
- You can’t ask that – Indigenous – I really like this series and this episode was a reminder that within the Australian Indigenous community there are different views and feelings, songlines and nations. It was also a reminder of the constant stereotypes Indigenous Australians come up against on a daily basis.
- Dhakiyarr Vs The King – 70 years after the controversial murder trial of the great Yolngu leader Dhakiyarr Wirrpanda, his descendants tell the story of two laws, two cultures and two families coming to terms with the past. This is an extraordinary example of how healing can happen in this country.
- Redfern Now – I am a couple of episodes into this series which was made over 10 years ago. It follows six different families in Redfern and is still impactful today.
ABC iView has a special collection at the moment for NAIDOC week that you can find here.
July resources to learn more about our First Nations Peoples
- Incarceration Nation – the high rate of incarceration of Indigenous Australians is shameful and shows how very far we still have to go in terms of healing intergenerational trauma and closing the gap on the disadvantage that Indigenous Australians experience.
- Off country – this series follows the lives of seven Indigenous students as they leave home to spend a year boarding at one of the oldest and most elite boarding schools in Australia, Geelong Grammar. These students provide insightful commentary on what it is like to be an Indigenous person in current day Australia.
- The Australian Dream – this is the brilliant documentary on Adam Goodes and the racism he faced playing in the AFL. It explores race, identity and belonging and really made me think about how much progress have we really made?
August resources to learn more about our First Nations Peoples
- Induction videos for volunteering – I did not realise that scabies is a common problem in many remote Aboriginal communities within the Northern Territory, where in some areas up to 50% of children and 25% of adults are affected. This is due in part to people living in crowded conditions and difficulty in accessing necessary personal items.
- Deadly Representation with Jana Stewart – it was great to hear from this newly elected Senator from Victoria. Stewart outlines her goals as a new Senator, discusses her areas of policy focus including women, family, children, race, privilege, and regional equity access and how she will navigate her role to achieve positive outcomes in these areas. This was great but the stand out section for me was when she discussed what went through her mind in choosing a hospital to have her baby in – this revealed so much about the trauma suffered and the discrimination our Indigenous people still face every day.
September resources to learn more about our First Nations Peoples
In a month that saw coverage of the death of Queen Elizabeth take over the media, I made a conscious attempt to seek out Indigenous voices to see how this event and the coverage were impacting them. If you haven’t sought out the perspective of our First Nation Peoples I can recommend checking out the following:
- Article – I am an Aboriginal woman. Don’t ask me to mourn the Queen’s death.
- TV Show – Royalty, a Republic and Truth-Telling
- Podcast – ‘Collective delusion’: Why Britain can’t face up to the empire’s past
- Podcast – Indigenous perspectives on the Queen’s funeral
October resources to learn more about our First Nations Peoples
- Four Corners – How Many More? – In Australia Aboriginal women are among the most victimised groups in the world, murdered up to 12 times the national average. A special investigation by Bridget Brennan into Australia’s murdered and missing Indigenous women.
- Curtain The Podcast – Digging Deeper into the Data – also on the theme of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Australia. They examine new data, explore whether perceived ideas in the media and community are born out in the data and ask who is best placed to begin to provide answers on this vital issue facing a nation.
- Article – Think private renting is hard? First Nations people can be excluded from the start – For Aboriginal Victorians, barriers arise at every stage of the renter’s journey, due to prejudice, discrimination and structural disadvantage.
November resources to learn more about our First Nations Peoples
- Video – Your Vote, Your Voice: Why Voting Matters – Reconciliation Victoria – asking young Indigenous people to join into a system they have previously been oppressed by is challenging but Reconciliation Victoria is trying to show why it is important that they vote through this video series.
- Article – Effects of climate change such as flooding makes existing disadvantages for Indigenous communities so much worse – discusses the need for Indigenous peoples to be included in local, state and national disaster risk reduction policies and plans.
- TV Show – Looking Black – this was really interesting and a little bit horrifying when they showed some very old footage! The show explores the impact of Indigenous storytelling at the ABC, and how it has created deep and honest conversations about the experience of First Nations journalists, storytellers, and presenters.
- A rock and its ripples: Charlie Maher on a marathon legacy – an inspiring story on the impact of the Indigenous Marathon Project set up by Robert De Castella.
December resources to learn more about our First Nations Peoples
- Podcast – Fact or Fiction | Debunking Common Economic Myths Around First Nations Peoples – discusses how powerful the employment lever is and could make a tremendous difference to closing the gap. They also address the historical economic exploitation of Indigenous peoples, universal basic income versus a jobs guarantee, the affordability of a jobs guarantee, productive work versus working for the dole, and sources of erroneous economic assumptions and criticisms leveled at Indigenous employment interventions.
- Documentary – Australia’s Dark Secret: The Inhumane Treatment of Indigenous Peoples – this was hard to watch but I am glad I watched it. It was released in 2013 so it is disappointing that I have only just watched it now. There is still so much we need to do to remedy the way we have treated and continue to treat our Indigenous population. I highly recommend everyone watch this.
- Article – Black Activists Line Up To Slam Nationals Over ‘Voice To Parliament’ Opposition – I really hope that we can get bipartisan support for the Voice To Parliament.
You can find another of my yearly resource lists here – 32 books I read in 2022.