How do I verify authentic resources when planning units of work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives?

Use the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s  ‘Checklist for Selecting and Evaluating Resources’ 

Use the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority resources:


Questions to ask about texts:

Who wrote it?

Whose perspectives is it representing?

What history does it require an understanding of? (missions, stolen generations – whose timeline?)

What languages are used? (slang, Aboriginal English, traditional language)


Questions to ask about service providers:

Where are they from? (First Nations country/community)

Who are they connected to in the community?

What are the local elders’ relationships with these providers?

How many other local First Nations community members are they connected with?

Are they open to working with other community members or do they demand sole partnership with your school/context?

(if these questions are answered relatively easily or are self-evident after you have spent a little bit of time talking with the provider, then you are probably working in an authentic space).

Ask your community contacts. Listen to their advice. If they become annoyed that you have engaged someone they don’t feel is authentically connected with the local community, simply apologise, take their advice and either stop working with the provider or seek guidance to implement parameters around the school’s relationship with them (e.g. they can talk about their personal experience as an artist but are not to share language or personal political views as per local elders’ advice).


Other good general authentic resources:

Victor Steffensen (fire man)

Prof Marcia Langton, Uni of Melbourne – project – comprehensive teacher resource

Dreaming is in us all, is everywhere (doesn’t neatly fit into Western knowledge disciplines) –

Trusted institutional resources:


Book lists and reviews

Here are my lists, discussions and reviews:

The authority on this topic is Anita Heiss, with the Macquarie PEN Anthology and Black Words database –

Key publishers include:

Magabala books:


Fremantle Press:

IAD Press:

Indij Readers:

Black Ink Press:

Aboriginal Studies Press:


Book posters


No excuses! Aboriginal perspectives in schools

Here is another great article challenging teachers to get outside their comfort zone and learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures and histories. A good summary of top resources too. I would also add Victor Steffensen’s The Living Knowledge Place (

‘But I am NOT ABORIGINAL I don’t know how to do this stuff!’



8 Ways Aboriginal Pedagogy

An integrated HASS/Science unit applying the 8 ways Aboriginal pedagogy

This unit is designed around 6 full-day excursions with local Aboriginal rangers and cultural interpreters. Each lesson sequence describes one excursion and the related information and activities that can be delivered in the classroom. Contact details for the relevant traditional owners, rangers and cultural interpreters are available at the end of this document; teachers cannot engage authentically with this curriculum without consulting and collaborating with these key people.

Campbell High School Unit planner land management

For more information, contact myself or Adam Shipp, Yurbay Consultancies (formerly Greening Australia) –; M 0414 454 571

8 ways pedagogy was developed and is managed by the Western NSW Regional Aboriginal Education Team, NSW Dept. of Education:

See Tyson Yunkaporta’s thesis on the 8 ways here.

I have mapped the 8 ways framework to Quality Teaching, AITSL Standards and ACT Directorate have added ‘Good Teaching by Design’, attached here.

ACT ED & Campbell High School 8 ways and QTM FA AITSL GTBD


An Aboriginal Literature “Canon”?

At the Hobart AATE/ALEA Literacy Conference in July 2017, I had an interesting chat with a teacher at a boys’ school who was looking for some canonical texts by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors which he could recommend to parents as significant literary works.

This is an area Anita Heiss has written much about and indeed is addressed in her edited collection  ‘Stories Without End’, co-edited with Penny van Toorn. See review here

My suggestions at the time, and some more I have thought of since, include:

Terri Janke – Butterfly Song

Tara June Winch – Swallow the Air and After the Carnage

Roberta Sykes – Snake Cradle, Snake Dancing and Snake Circle

Alexis Wright – Carpentaria, The Swan Book

Boori Monty Pryor – Maybe Tomorrow

Ali Cobby Eckermann – various poetry

Archie Weller – Day of the Dog and Going Home for more gritty novels for those disengaged boys!

Samuel Wagan Watson, Lionel Fogerty – poetry

Kim Scott – That Deadman Dance (Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, 2011)

Charles Perkins – A Bastard Like Me

Uncle Bill Neidjie – Old Man’s Story and Kakadu Man

ALSO check out the titles listed here.

There are also many awards specific to Indigenous literature, and the shortlists give you an idea of the cream of the crop:


Please reply and add suggestions!

Aboriginal Connections to water

Here are lesson plans from the ‘Water in the World’ Yr 7 Geography unit which incorporate Aboriginal perspectives.

aboriginal art symbols

aboriginal water connections teacher notes

Aboriginal water connections hand out

Yr 7 Aboriginal connections to water

AIATSIS Online Exhibition: Living off our Waters