National campaign celebrates First Nations voices and stories ahead of NAIDOC week
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > National campaign celebrates First Nations voices and stories ahead of NAIDOC week

National campaign celebrates First Nations voices and stories ahead of NAIDOC week

by Freya Lucas

November 03, 2020

The First Nations Bedtime Stories Challenge is a national campaign to celebrate First Nations voices and stories, and offers an accessible way for children and early childhood educators to celebrate NAIDOC Week, and the 2020 theme of Always Was, Always Will Be.


Run by Common Ground, an Aboriginal-led not-for-profit, in partnership with First Nations leaders and communities, the First Nations Bedtime Stories Challenge aims to protect, maintain and strengthen First Nations cultures and embed First Nations knowledge systems in wider society. 


The campaign is structured around a week of watching Dreaming stories, with those participating in the challenge encouraged to watch five short videos over five days – each featuring a Dreaming story told by an Elder. 


This year the videos were filmed in Central Australia and feature stories from Eastern Arrernte, Arrernte and Warlpiri people, and the Challenge supports First Nations cultures around Australia to remain strong. 


Research has shown that maintaining strong cultures is critical to health, social and wellbeing outcomes for First Nations people, and key to thriving First Nations communities. 


One of the storytellers is Kathleen Kemarre Wallace, an Eastern Arrernte woman from Ltyentye Apurte, also known as Santa Teresa. She lives in Alice Springs as a community Elder, renowned artist, custodian and storyteller. 


Kathleen was raised by her family in the bush at Uyetye but was moved to a Christian Mission at Santa Teresa in the early 1960s. During her time at the Mission she was told to forget her culture and stories. But, from a young age, Kathleen learned the stories of her parents’ and grandparents’ Country, and has dedicated her life to passing them on and sharing important cultural knowledge. 


Common Ground has worked with First Nations and non-Indigenous teachers to develop comprehensive educational resources to support learning alongside the videos, with all participants able to access resources tailored for various age groups, including early childhood. 


Rona Glynn-McDonald, CEO of Common Ground, says “My family has been telling stories for a thousand generations, to educate our young people and stay connected to Country and knowledge. While oral storytelling is still central to culture, my family has been using the medium of film to ensure that stories continue for a thousand generations more. Capturing cultural stories on film strengthens cultures in additional ways so we can celebrate these stories for generations to come.”


To learn more about the First Nations Bedtime Stories Challenge, please see here

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