AC+ resources for exploring First Nations perspectives

24 May 2022

For our AC+ subscribers: Here are some resources that might be helpful in engaging students in reflection and conversation around First Nations perspectives.

For our AC+ subscribers: Here are some resources that might be helpful in engaging students in reflection and conversation around First Nations perspectives.

First Nations stories

Elsie's lessons
Elsie Heiss found solace in her faith as she grew up, created a community where she could feel at home, then spent much of her life helping the broader Catholic community grow in their understanding and acceptance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
PLUS Reflection questionsn and activities for students.

A tree of healing
Tom Powell, a Warramunga man from within the Wiradjuri Nation in the Central West of NSW, talks about how he founded Red Dust Healing with the aim of supporting families. The main tool in the program is the tree. ‘The root system is family and the things we like and make us – faith, culture, sport, music. The trunk of tree becomes us, and the branches are the choices we make.'
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students.

Speaking up for the Land Down Under

Today it’s common practice to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Land and publicly pay respect to elders past, present, and emerging. But when it comes to managing the environment, do we actually listen to them? An interview with Adnymathanha elder and traditional owner Viviane McKenzie. 
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students.

The kujika from Yanuwa
Malarndirri McCarthy is an award winning journalist who was elected to the Australian Senate. Before the election, some of our interns had some questions for her about her career and her Indigenous heritage.
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students.

Representing who you are
While her Wiradjuri heritage is an important aspect of Anita Heiss’s identity, her books are about changing people’s ideas about what it means to be an Indigenous person today. 
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students.

Living traditions
Betty Pike has chosen to share the wisdom she's gained in her life in a unique way.

The story of the Rainbow Spirit
When God speaks to us, it is not always easy to know and understand just what we are being asked to do, says Betty Pike.

What it means to love the land
Archie Roach talks about his project, Butcher's Paper, Texta, Blackboard and Chalk, which shares the stories of children in Aboriginal communities, where the land is not just home - it's a place to play.
PLUS Reflection on Reconciliation

The Creator Spirit and me
My name is Evelyn Parkin. I was born and raised on North Stradbroke Island. I am writing about my relationship with the Creator Spirit of Aboriginal Spirituality who I believe is also the same God who speaks to me through my Christian faith. I will try to explain these two spiritual beliefs.

Experiencing the sacred as an Indigenous man
My name is Peter Smith, and I'm from the Aboriginal and Islander Catholic Council in Mt Isa, Queensland. Every month people from the council 'go bush' for a prayer session, held in a dry creek bed a short drive from Mount Isa. Here, I share my story of how the beliefs of my ancestors inform my Catholic faith.

The greatest reward
Indigenous footballer Daniel Wells has had a successful AFL career, but says the satisfaction he gets from football cannot compare to the deeper fulfillment he gets from his family and his faith.


Features and reflections from First Nations peoples

A song yet to be heard: Dreaming of a reconciled Australia
Sherry Balcombe from Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in Victoria says the wait for Reconciliation continues for First Nations peoples.
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students.

Moments of reconciliation
Over two decades have passed since Pope John Paul II's historic speech to Indigenous Australians in Alice Springs in 1986. We ask some Indigenous leaders what have been some of the most significant recent landmarks for Indigenous Catholics in Australia.

New paths for our Church: First Nations perspectives on Laudato Si' and Querida Amazonia
Querida Amazonia is a successor to Laudato Si’, drawing on its concern for creation and the marginalised to provide a specific focus on the struggles of indigenous peoples faced with environmental exploitation and displacement from their traditional homelands. Members of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council to reflect on what these two landmark documents mean to them.
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students.

Acknowledging our country's Traditional Owners
Aboriginal people have existed in Australia for over sixty thousand years, making them the oldest surviving people in the world. While this is something we should celebrate, we also must remember the hurt and struggle that many First Nations People continue to face due to the loss of sacred sites and traditional culture. The ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ is one of the ways in which Catholic communities can recognise our relationship with Aboriginal people.

Opening up to First Nations people
One of our young writers interviews Sherry Balcombe from Aboriginal Catholic Ministry about the Uluru Statement.
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students.

Dadirri: Deep listening
'Dadirri is quiet, still awareness – deep listening. It’s the thing that makes up who we are as Aboriginal people, spiritually', says Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr. 

The places we call home
What defines our sense of community? Students from St Scholastica's in Sydney share their perspectives. Among them is Shonica Talal who calls Gove in the Northern Territory home. 

2021 Australia Day reflection from NATSICC
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council's reflections on Australia Day. 

A global vision
Clare Stevenson, a 16-year-old Wiradjuri student from Loreto Normanhurst in Sydney was given a special opportunity to speak with Pope Francis in May. The online meeting was organised for the announcement of an agreement between Australian Catholic University (ACU) and Fundación Scholas Occurrentes (Scholas) to support global education and inclusion.

Heal country
Among the resources provided by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Sunday on 4 July 2021 are some homily notes that discuss the First Nations peoples commitment, love, care and respect for ‘country’.

Other related features

Explorations: Indigenous missions
In this Explorations we look at what missions are about and at how history has shaped them. We shall also reflect briefly on mission to Indigenous Australians.

Speaking new life into an ancient language
Programs in Toowoomba provide a glimpse at a future where First Nations peoples might walk hand-in-hand with the descendants of settlers.

Connecting teachers and students
An education initiative between Townsville Catholic Education and James Cook University is listening to young Aboriginal and Torrens Strait Islander voices about what makes an effective classroom.

A cabbage patch for kids
The students at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary, Kununurra have learned how to make their own nutritious meals using fruits and veggies grown in their own schoolyard. 

From boys to men
A successful scholarship program for Indigenous students is about providing more than just a quality education. At St Ignatius' College, Riverview in Sydney, the boys are given an insight into what it means to be Indigenous men, so they can be the next generation of leaders and role models in their communities.

Reflection for NAIDOC Week 2019
NAIDOC Week emerged from the recognition by Indigenous Australians that they were neglected and not listened to, and from their determination to change things. It provides an opportunity for all Australians to join in celebrating the culture and aspirations and hopes of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders.
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students.

The importance of apologies
On the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations it is timely to consider the significance of apologies.

Saying sorry
Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week belong together and involve all Australians. It is an invitation to the whole Australian community to do Sorry Business for the death and diminishment which government policies brought to the Stolen Generations. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the Church
Fr Frank Brennan SJ says a challenge has been laid: ‘The Church in Australia must be shaped by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and spirituality for it to be authentically a Church of this land.’

Truth-telling and the Plenary Council
Fr Brendan Byrne SJ says 'prioritising’ the question of ‘how the Church can… empower First Peoples’ will mean including it among four major issues that the Council must address if it is to have any credibility both within itself and in Australian society as a whole.

A story of creation
The story of geologist Jim Bowler and his discovery at Lake Mungo, and recognising how the perspectives of First Nations people can enrich our understanding of creation. 
PLUS Reflection questions and activities for students.

A holy place in jeopardy
A teacher from Bunbury writes about a campaign to save a sacred Aboriginal site from becoming a highway.

Culture shock meets mission
A teacher in Wadeye shares her experiences in the community.

Transforming power
Attitudes, policies and administration need to change to allow for effective ‘Close the Gap’ strategies.

A sharp challenge
NAIDOC Week provides an opportunity for all Australians to join in celebrating the culture and aspirations and hopes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.


Activities and resources for schools

The social justice hero's journey
This activity was designed as a general resource for engaging students around social justice issues, but could be adapted with activities focused on First Nations stories.
PLUS More resources for this activity.

Acknowledgement plaques
Australia’s Catholic bishops have endorsed a plaque for use in Catholic schools, parishes and organisations, which is now available through the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC).

Film: Firestarter - the story of Bangarra
The inspiring story of the Bangarra Dance Company and its Indigenous heritage.

Sneaky Jesus Song: Grandmother's Song
When Northern Territory group Kardajala Kirridarra sings 'Didn’t know' it was possible to feel this much pain, it is a searing cry about generations of Indigenous families broken apart by Aboriginal protection and welfare laws and policies.

Sneaky Jesus Song: 'Wiyathul' by Dr G Yunupingu
This charming song was released in 2008 and is sung in Dr Yunupingu’s native Yolngu Matha language.

Sneaky Jesus songs: 'Blackfella/ Whitefella' by Warumpi Band

Indigenous languages
A new Australian 50 cent coin and a First Languages Map are highlighting Australia's Indigenous languages.


Prayer and scripture reflections

Season of the Spirit: Reconciliation Week
Reflection for students and staff reflecting on the meaning of the word dadirri. 

Prayer rite for Australia Day
The Uluru Statement was an invitation from the traditional owners of the land to the rest of the nation: let’s build a reconciled future based in truth and the healing of political and communal relationships.