Connecting with your local community is a great way to support your social and emotional wellbeing. Making connections with people who understand your culture can be helpful in grounding yourself. Whatever kind of challenges and hard times you face in life, your community understands what’s going on for you and can support you in ways that may not be possible for people who don’t share your cultural background.
But sometimes it can be hard to find out how to connect with your community, even when you really want to. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you connect with your local Indigenous community in a way that feels natural and fun for you.
Check out some events at NAIDOC Week
Every year, the 'National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee' (NAIDOC) holds a week-long celebration of the history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
This year’s NAIDOC Week will be held on 3–10 July. The theme is ‘Get up! Stand up! Show up!’, which encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to stand up and be proud of who they are, including their culture, history and achievements.
‘Get up! Stand up! Show up!’ also encourages young people to rally together to create positive change for Indigenous peoples in many different ways, including in the government and the constitution of this country.
During NAIDOC Week, tens of thousands of Indigenous people meet together at community-driven events. There are so many different ways to get involved and have fun during NAIDOC Week.
Some of these events can include:
- family fun days (including performances, petting zoos, art displays and more)
- art exhibitions (visual and audio storytelling from the perspective of Indigenous artists)
- Dreamtime story retelling (both books and speakers)
- group dinners/lunches
- Indigenous public speakers sharing their experiences or stories.
To find out what’s on this year’s official schedule, have a look at NAIDOC’s website.
Find some cultural groups near you
Throughout Australia there are many different open community groups that Indigenous Australians can join to learn more about different aspects of their cultures. Often these groups are local, so you may have to do some research into what’s going on in your area. But here are a few examples:
- Whether you’re an experienced dancer or just wanting to learn the basics, groups like Aboriginal Dance Theatre Redfern (ADTR) have plenty of fun and educational options.
- If you’re into singing, community choir groups such as Madjitil Moorna in Perth meet up regularly to sing Indigenous songs in both English and their local Noongar language.
- If you’ve ever thought about getting into DJing, producing or presenting on the radio, Koori Radio in Sydney is a community radio station that offers young Indigenous creators the chance to get involved in the industry.
We recommend that you check online to see what kind of community groups exist near you!
Join an Indigenous Aussie Rules football team
There are heaps of different football clubs for young Indigenous people throughout Australia. If you’re looking to get involved in learning to play Aussie Rules football, we recommend you ring up your local club and ask if they have a group you could join.
If relevant to you, it might also be worth checking out the Australian Football League’s (AFL’s) Next Generation Academies. This initiative helps thousands of young people across the country to get involved in the sport.
If you're into the AFL, be sure to watch Yokayi Footy, a new panel show on NITV that explores the game from a young, Indigenous perspective.
Check out Indigenous Basketball groups near you
But it’s not all AFL for social opportunities in the Australian sporting world. We hear you, Sydney and Brisbane!
Groups such as Indigenous Basketball Australia (IBA) run a grassroots-level program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aussies who are interested both in advancing their skills in the sport and having a lot of fun with a new team of people while they’re at it.
The IBA also holds competitions for those selected to represent their region at the highest level of play. The National Indigenous Basketball Tournament (NIBT), for example, is an awesome goal for aspiring young Indigenous athletes to strive for.
Head to an Aboriginal Education Centre
Over the last 20 years, heaps of progress has been made in providing Indigenous students with opportunities to connect with their local communities.
For information about Indigenous programs at your local TAFE, you can start your search here.
If you’re an Indigenous student who is studying at university, you’ll have access to Aboriginal Education Centres such as:
- Koori Centre (University of Sydney)
- Murrup Barak (University of Melbourne)
- Badanami Centre (Western Sydney University)
- Oodgeroo Unit (Queensland University of Technology)
- Centre for Aboriginal Studies (Curtin University of Technology).
These centres help Indigenous students to learn about their culture, get together in a relaxed and comfortable setting, and become involved in all areas of university life.
These are just some of the ways in which we can connect more with local Indigenous communities and meet new people. Connecting with your community as an Indigenous person can be incredibly rewarding, fulfilling and fun, all at the same time.
If you’re interested, check out some of what we’ve listed above. They are great places to begin your journey of connecting to your community!
What can I do now?
- Check out our Yarn Up collection for more articles and videos about young Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people staying safe and deadly.
- Watch our video with Sonboy, an Aboriginal hip hop artist, on how role models changed his life.
- Have a look at what courses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture are on offer at your local TAFE.