Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures

June 20, 2023

Help make a positive difference on the path to reconciliation. Here are some tangible ways you can incorporate the teaching of empathy, respect and a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures into your everyday lessons.

Within Australian schools, Reconciliation Week in June and NAIDOC Week in July are two important occasions for everyone to come together and honour the achievements, cultures and histories of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. From art and education to technology and leadership, it is an opportunity for us to learn about and celebrate the remarkable contributions that First Nations communities have made in the shaping of Australia’s collective cultural fabric and national identity.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority engages with Australian First Nations Peoples’ knowledge, experiences, values and perspectives. Through the Australian Curriculum, students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, experiences, values and perspectives and to recognise the ongoing strength, resilience and diversity of First Nations Australian communities. It also aims to engage schools positively in Australia’s journey towards reconciliation.

Incorporating First Nations and Reconciliation themes into everyday learning is crucial for fostering cultural understanding, promoting reconciliation, empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and nurturing engaged citizens. It helps us to recognise the rich heritage and diverse histories we share, challenge harmful stereotypes and work towards a more inclusive and equitable society.

Here are 10 activity ideas to help students develop empathy, respect and a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures in the classroom:

  1. Explain the purpose and significance of Reconciliation Week.
  2. Introduce students to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, traditions, and languages.
  3. Discuss the impact of colonization on Indigenous peoples and the importance of acknowledging the past.
  4. Learn about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags and explain their meanings.
  5. Explore the annual theme of Reconciliation Week and discuss ways children can take action for reconciliation.
  6. Introduce the concept of the Stolen Generations, providing age-appropriate information and fostering discussions.
  7. Engage children in activities that promote reconciliation, such as creating artwork, learning traditional dances or songs, or participating in community events.
  8. Emphasize values of respect, equality, and inclusivity, encouraging children to listen to different perspectives and foster understanding.
  9. If possible, arrange for a visit or invite a local Indigenous elder or community member to share their culture and experiences.
  10. Encourage continued learning throughout the year by providing access to books, documentaries, websites, and resources on Indigenous cultures and histories.

Deep Dive with Britannica

Explore Britannica School’s factual and culturally vetted resources on Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Encourage self-guided inquiry with age-appropriate articles, images, videos and primary sources highlighting First Nations Australians, their histories, cultures and achievements. Use the popular search terms below as a starting point.

Search Britannica School 


Featured photo by BRITANNICA IMAGEQUEST: Cathy Freeman visits the MAIJAG centre to see Aboriginal artwork during the Athletics For the Outback Program run by Athletics Australia on June 12, 2005 in Mackay, Australia. MAIJAG is the Mackay Aboriginal and Islander Justice Alternatives Group. Photo by Mark Dadswell / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images / Universal Images Group. Rights Managed / For Education Use Only.

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