As the oldest living culture on Earth, First Nations people in Australia continue to celebrate, cultivate and pass on their rich intergenerational knowledge, traditions and stories.
This give list highlights a range of not-for-profit organisations supporting Indigenous culture and communities by addressing inequity and disadvantage, amplifying First Nations voices through storytelling, and working to promote respect, reconciliation and structural reform.
While the entities listed below are all known to APS, we do not conduct a detailed analysis of their financial position and governance ahead of their inclusion in this list. This is not an exhaustive list of the many not-for-profit organisations working in this space.
Children’s Ground works with communities who have been devastated by entrenched inequity and disadvantage. Designed with First Nations people, Children’s Ground builds on the ability, strength and culture of communities while responding to trauma and creating opportunities.
Their 25-year approach focuses on key areas that are fundamental to life-long wellbeing for every child. They aim to evidence what can be achieved when the system is designed for and with the people it serves. This evidence is used to advocate for systems change. They are promoting national reform for policy and practice in the following key areas: integrated delivery, health promotion, early years learning, education, employment and governance.
Working where people live, Children’s Ground builds generational change by supporting each child, in every family within a community over a 25-year period. The approach integrates education with health, community development, economic development and cultural life. It replaces a history of isolated, crisis-driven programs and demands excellence over the long term to create enduring change.
Common Ground is a First Nations-led not-for-profit. They’re working to shape a society that centres First Nations people by promoting knowledge, cultures and stories. Common Ground works to amplify and back First Nations voices, bringing together knowledge, cultures and stories to create content and experiences that inform and advocate. They are currently focusing on creating change in the education system and the justice system by making resources for schools, running campaigns and supporting advocacy work. Common Ground also runs a First Nations Bedtime Stories initiative, which is designed to maintain and strengthen First Nations cultures by sharing non-secret Dreaming stories with the next generation of Australians through short films.
Desert Pea Media
Desert Pea Media (DPM) works with Indigenous young people in regional and remote areas of Australia using contemporary storytelling techniques and audio-visual media to foster important social and cultural dialogue. DPM works with Elders, young people, community leaders and local service providers to ensure their programs are relevant, engaging and appropriate to the needs of individuals and communities.
DPM aims to educate audiences, to advocate awareness of social and cultural issues and to celebrate community and culture on a local, national and international level. They work to contribute to the evolution of a balanced and respectful social and cultural relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia. Over 19 years DPM has produced over 130 music videos and 40 documentaries with over 80 Original Nations communities. Their YouTube channel has had over 4.4 million views.
Reconciliation Australia is the lead body for reconciliation in Australia. They promote and facilitate reconciliation by building relationships, respect and trust between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Their work focuses on influencing organisations, people and policies. Examples of their work include:
• The Narragunnawali program which supports schools and early learning services to foster knowledge and pride in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and contributions.
• The Indigenous Governance Program which supports governance, leadership and self-determination in First Nations-led organisations and communities. The program shares stories of success and excellence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations with resources and toolkits available to support First Nations leaders to create and maintain strong governance practices, based in culture.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation from First Nations to “walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”. It was issued to the Australian people in May 2017 following almost two years of work. The Uluru Statement calls for structural reform including constitutional change, ie, structural reform through establishing a new relationship between First Nations and the Australian nation based on justice and self-determination where Indigenous cultures and peoples can flourish, and everyone can move forward.
The Uluru Statement calls for a First Nations Voice to Parliament and a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making and truth-telling. The first reform is the constitutional enshrinement of a Voice to Parliament (Voice). A Voice is a common reform adopted around the world by liberal democracies to improve democratic participation for Indigenous populations. In Australia, the Voice will empower First Nations politically. It will be a permanent institution for expressing First Nations’ views to the parliament and government on important issues affecting First Nations.
The Uluru Statement is led by the Uluru Dialogue and the UNSW Indigenous Law Centre.
UNSW – Indigenous Law Centre (ILC)
The ILC contributes to the recognition, protection and development of the legal rights and freedoms of Indigenous peoples both in Australia and internationally. The Centre achieves this by conducting and disseminating innovative and high-quality research on Indigenous legal issues and through community legal education on issues of particular significance. The ILC runs various programs of work, one of which is the Uluru Statement (see above).
Updated July 2022