Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of people who have passed away.

The Victorian Curriculum F–10 includes opportunities for students to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. The knowledge and skills that students are expected to develop about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders histories and cultures have a particular and enduring importance and assists students to understand the uniqueness of these cultures and the wisdom and knowledge embedded in them.

The first key concept highlights the special connection to Country/Place by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and celebrates the unique belief systems that connect people physically and spiritually to Country/Place.

The second key concept examines the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ culture through language, ways of life and experiences as expressed through historical, social and political lenses. It provides opportunities for students to gain a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ways of being, knowing, thinking and doing.

The third key concept addresses the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies. It examines kinship structures and the significant contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on a local, national and global scale.

A summary of the curriculum content in the Victorian Curriculum F–10 directly related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culture is available here:

Aboriginal Cultural Awareness


Online professional learning tool to assist staff and schools to develop their knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal cultures.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, resources for teachers

This project aims to empower all teachers to integrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in their teaching. These resources provide engaging examples to assist teachers in implementing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority in the classroom. https://indigenousknowledge.research.unimelb.edu.au/

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) is the world’s premier institution for information and research about the cultures and lifestyles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Institute undertakes and encourages scholarly, ethical community-based research, holds a priceless collection of films, photographs, video and audio recordings and the world’s largest collections of printed and other resource materials for Indigenous Studies, as well as having its own publishing house, Aboriginal Studies Press.

The Institute’s activities affirm and raise awareness among all Australians, and people of other nations, of the richness and diversity of Australian Indigenous cultures and histories.


AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia

The map is an attempt to represent all the language, tribal or nation groups of the Indigenous peoples of Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups were included on the map based on the published resources available between 1988 and 1994 which determine the cultural, language and trade boundaries and relationships between groups. Regions were determined using the watershed basis as a template.



Protocols for Libraries, Archives and Information Services.


Boon Wurrung Foundation

First People of the Bays (Port Phillip and Westernport) and South East Victoria. The Boon Wurrung Foundation represents the traditional people and custodians of the lands from the Werribee River to Wilson Promontory and we are proud members of the Kulin People.


Bringing them home report

Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. This report is a tribute to the strength and struggles of many thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by forcible removal. We acknowledge the hardships they endured and the sacrifices they made. We remember and lament all the children who will never come home.

We dedicate this report with thanks and admiration to those who found the strength to tell their stories to the Inquiry and to the generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people separated from their families and communities.

Commonwealth of Australia 1997


Bunjilaka - Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Melbourne Museum.

First Peoples is a shared endeavour of Museum Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal community. The First Peoples Yulendj Group of Elders and community representatives have brought their knowledge, stories, culture, objects and images to guide the exhibition's development.

Mungo Man returns to country. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Australia.

Celebrating Indigenous Cultures

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are complex and diverse. The Indigenous cultures of Australia are the oldest living cultural history in the world – they go back at least 65,000 years. Indigenous communities keep their cultural heritage alive by passing their knowledge, arts, ceremonies and performances from one generation to another, speaking and teaching languages, protecting cultural materials, sacred and significant sites, and objects. For Indigenous Australians, the land is the core of all spirituality and this relationship and the spirit of ‘Country' is central to the issues that are important to Indigenous people today." - Ngunnawal Elder, Tina Brown


Dark Emu - Bruce Pascoe

SHORTLISTED – History Book Award in the 2014 Queensland Literary Awards

SHORTLISTED – 2014 Victorian Premier's Award for Indigenous Writing

WINNER – Book of the Year in the 2016 NSW Premier's Literary Awards

WINNER – Indigenous Writer's Prize in the 2016 NSW Premier's Literary Awards

Dark Emu argues for a reconsideration of the 'hunter-gatherer' tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession. Accomplished author Bruce Pascoe provides compelling evidence from the diaries of early explorers that suggests that systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia’s past is required.

Magabala Books teacher notes on Dark Emu

Dark Emu in the Classroom: Teacher Resources for High School Geography -

Ashlee Horyniak, Simone Barlow

A rich resource for teachers of Geography Years 9 and 10 to use in the classroom. Based on the concepts in Bruce Pascoe's highly acclaimed book Dark Emu, this resource presents lesson content for the topics: Biomes and Food Security (Vic Year 9) / Sustainable Biomes (NSW Stage 5) Environmental Change and Management (Vic. Year 10 / NSW Stage 5). This innovative resource offers both new and experienced teachers a supportive and fresh approach to teaching geography through its well-organised lesson structure and high-interest, inquiry-based activities for students.

Decolonizing Solidarity is a book as well as a site full of resources and ideas. It aims to inspire, support, and give direction to the work of people who support Aboriginal struggles. If you are relatively experienced, or have a specific skill to offer, then you can sign up to the database and it may be possible to direct you to an Aboriginal-led project you can support. You can also sign up to find out about new resources, ideas and actions.


Footscray Community Arts Centre elders

A reference group, facilitated by our Indigenous Cultural Program Creative Producer, and composing of six Indigenous leaders, artists and academics is the central guiding committee for all activities undertaken through the Indigenous Cultural Program. Elders-in-residence, N’arweet Carolyn Briggs and Uncle Larry Walsh, work closely with Footscray Community Arts Centre, mentoring artists and community.


The Healing Foundation

The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to address the ongoing trauma caused by actions like the forced removal of children from their families.


Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights

ICIP refers to all the rights that Indigenous people have, and want to have, to protect their traditional arts and culture


Indigenous Literacy Foundation

The ILF was founded by Suzy Wilson, a former teacher and education consultant who owns Riverbend Books. It is a not-for-profit charity which respects the unique place of Australia's first people and draws on the expertise of the Australian book industry.


Indigenous weather knowledge

The Indigenous Weather Knowledge website was launched in 2002 as a joint partnership between the Bureau, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and Monash University's Centre for Indigenous Studies. The website is a formal recognition of traditional weather and climate knowledge that has been developed and passed down through countless generations by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


K'gari 10 minute interactive documentary debunking fake news

K’gari is an innovative, interactive documentary that debunks one of Australia’s first fake news stories by exposing the largely untold Aboriginal version of events.

http://www.sbs.com.au/kgari/ Teacher notes

Koori History website project


The Koorie Heritage Trust at Federation Square takes Koorie peoples, cultures and communities from the literal and figurative fringes of Melbourne to a place that is a central meeting and gathering place for all Victorians. Our presence at Federation Square is a bold statement and significant recognition of our shared history and the importance of Koorie peoples and communities as part of a broader 21st century community.

We offer a range of programs and services including the only public collection in Victoria dedicated solely to Koorie art and culture comprising artefacts, pictures and photographs as well as an Oral History Program and a Reference Library; a cultural education service that includes guided walking tours, cultural competency training and programs developed specifically for schools and educators; an annual exhibition program with an emphasis on showcasing young and emerging Victorian Aboriginal art and artists; a Koorie Family History Service; and a retail shop dedicated exclusively to showcasing the uniqueness of Victorian Aboriginal art and design. We also have for hire meeting rooms with balcony access and views of the Yarra River and Federation Square.

We are endorsed as a deductible gift recipient and continue to receive generous funding support from bequests, private donors, trusts and foundations, and from government grants and corporate sponsorship.


Little Red Yellow Black Website

An introduction to Indigenous Australia.


We hold two copies of this book on our library shelves.

Fourth edition now available to purchase:

  • The Little Red Yellow Black Book (Fourth Edition) AIATSIS with Bruce Pascoe


Little Yarns is a podcast for children celebrating the languages and cultures of our First Nations peoples.


Professor Lyndall Ryan with a map that plots massacres of Aboriginal people

Map recording massacres of Aboriginal people

Marrung is a strategy to ensure that all Koorie Victorians achieve their learning aspirations.

Marrung is the Wemba Wemba word for the Murray Cypress pine tree, representing branches of education and knowledge. We thank the Wemba Wemba people for allowing the use of their language in the naming of this plan.


National Congress of Australia's First Peoples

National Congress has grown to be the largest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation in the country, counting over 9,000 individuals and 180 organisations as members. We advocate self-determination for our peoples, and believe that our families, communities and organisations must be at the forefront of policy decisions made by federal, state and territory governments.


National Indigenous Australians Agency

The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) is committed to implementing the Government’s policies and programs to improve the lives of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The NIAA recognises that each community is unique. Our team includes people across Australia who work closely with communities to make sure policies, programs and services address these unique needs.

We work directly to, and support the Minister for Indigenous Australians, The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP.

The NIAA works to influence policy across the entire Australian Government. We liaise closely with State and Territory governments, Indigenous peak bodies, stakeholders and service providers to ensure that Indigenous programs and services are delivering for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as intended. https://www.niaa.gov.au/


Unearth stories from the world's oldest living culture with Ngarandi. Using geolocation and augmented reality the past has been brought into the modern world, immersing users in Indigenous history and culture.

Two unique Indigenous AR experiences:

Build a Nawi - The art of bark canoe building was nearly lost. Now you can build your own nawi.

The Eora Fisherwomen - The Eora women dominated the waters of Sydney Harbour. Learn to fish how they did.

App developers are hoping new technology will help preserve one of the world's oldest cultures.

Developed by technology firm Isobar, in partnership with Indigenous specialist agency Cox Inall Ridgeway, the Ngarandi app has been designed to make the 65,000-year history of Indigenous Australians more accessible to the population of today.

Ngarandi -- which means "to know" in the Dharawal language -- uses augmented reality and geolocation to bring the experiences of Sydney's traditional landowners, the Eora people, to life.

"You can see what life was like before all the big metal structures and skyscrapers were there," Cox Inall Ridgeway consultant Marlee Silva told 10 daily.

Silva -- an Aboriginal woman -- facilitated conversations between tech developers and Aboriginal stakeholders throughout the process of creating the app.


Nyernila – Listen Continuously: Aboriginal Creation Stories of Victoria.

The uniqueness is differentiated by two significant and distinguishing features. It is the first contemporary compilation of Victorian Aboriginal Creation Stories told by Victorian Aboriginal People, and it is the first to extensively use languages of origin to tell the stories.

‘Nyernila’ to listen continuously – a Wergaia/Wotjobaluk word recorded in the 20th century. To listen continuously. What is meant by this term. What meaning is being attempted to be communicated by the speaker to the recorder? What is implied in this term? What is the recorder trying to translate and communicate to the reader?

‘Nyernila’ means something along the lines of what is described in Miriam Rose Ungemerrs ‘dadirri’ – deep and respectful listening in quiet contemplation of Country and Old People. This is how our Old People, Elders and the Ancestors teach us and we invite the reader to take this with them as they journey into the spirit of Aboriginal Victoria through the reading of these stories.

Our stories are our Law. They are important learning and teaching for our People. They do not sit in isolation in a single telling. They are accompanied by song, dance and visual communications; in sand drawings, ceremonial objects and body adornment, rituals and performance. Our stories have come from ‘wanggatung waliyt’ – long, long ago – and remain ever-present through into the future.

You can browse the book online by clicking the items below, or you can download a PDF of the publication here.


Protocols for Koorie education in Victorian primary & secondary schools

Teachers must follow protocols for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. These are known as the Koorie Cross-Curricular Protocols.

The protocols seek to protect the integrity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural expressions in a way in which all Australians can engage respectfully and feel connected to this identity.

Reconciliation Australia

Reconciliation Australia promotes and facilitates respect, trust and positive relationships between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Reconciliation Australia is an independent, not-for-profit organisation. Our vision is for a just, equitable and reconciled Australia. Our purpose is to inspire and enable all Australians to contribute to the reconciliation of the nation. https://www.reconciliation.org.au/

Track the history timeline: the Stolen Generations


  • Story

  • The Statement

  • FAQs

  • Resources


UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) affirms the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, security and well-being of Indigenous peoples worldwide and enshrines Indigenous peoples’ right to be different.

The Declaration was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2007. This was the culmination of more than 20 years of negotiation between the Indigenous peoples and governments of the world. The Australian Government announced its support for the Declaration in 2009.


Victorian Aboriginal Education Association INC.

Resources for Schools and Families


A real history of Aboriginal Australians, the first agriculturalists | Bruce Pascoe | TEDxSydney

In the TEDX talk below, Indigenous writer and anthologist Bruce Pascoe draws on first-hand accounts from colonial journals to dispel the myth that Aboriginal people were hunters and gatherers and "did nothing with the land that resembled agriculture". In this powerful talk, Pascoe demonstrates a radically different view of Australian history that we all need to know – one that has the potential to change the course of Australians' relationship with the land. Bruce Pascoe's career has spanned teaching, farming, bartending, writing, working on an archaeological site, and researching Aboriginal languages. A Bunurong, Tasmanian and Yuin man born in Melbourne, he grew up on a remote island in the Bass Strait. Bruce has written more than 20 books.

His non-fiction book, Dark Emu (2014), won the Book of the Year and Indigenous Writers' Prize in the 2016 NSW Premier's Literary Awards. He says, "Aboriginal people have always had a story to tell. We have always been storytellers and artists and singers and dancers and we've just brought this into the general Australian culture. Non-Aboriginal Australians enjoy it and are starting to embrace it".

Young Dark Emu

Using the accounts of early European explorers, colonists and farmers, Bruce Pascoe compellingly argues for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer label for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. He allows the reader to see Australia as it was before Europeans arrived – a land of cultivated farming areas, productive fisheries, permanent homes, and an understanding of the environment and its natural resources that supported thriving villages across the continent. Young Dark Emu - A Truer History asks young readers to consider a different version of Australia’s history pre-European colonisation. Teacher notes