Indigenous Culture Support fact sheet

Indigenous Culture Support (PDF 1.3 MB)

 

Australian Government funding to support the maintenance, transmission and expression of Indigenous culture

The rich and diverse cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are amongst the oldest continuing living cultures on earth.

Keeping culture strong is vital to the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is at the heart of the development of a strong national identity.

The Australian Government's Indigenous Culture Support (ICS) funding assists participation in a wide range of Indigenous cultural activities throughout Australia, and enables the transmission of cultural knowledge across age groups.

New and imaginative forms of cultural expression are encouraged, and cultural exchange among different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and between all Australians is promoted.

ICS places an emphasis on participation and achievements that enrich Indigenous culture, develop skills and encourage a strong sense of cultural identity in communities.

The Australian Government's ICS funding aims to:

  • support the maintenance of Indigenous culture
  • support new forms of Indigenous cultural expression
  • support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' engagement in cultural activities
  • promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing by strengthening pride in identity and culture.

As strong cultural identity is fundamental to Indigenous health and wellbeing, support for Indigenous culture is essential for Closing the Gap.

Culture is fundamental to identity—it is our past, our present and our future... We need our culture to sustain us and to keep us well. But importantly, we need culture because it tells us who we are.
Tom Calma1

 

Image: Major ‘Moogy’ Sumner demonstrates how to build a traditional Ngarrindjeri bark canoe. Goolwa Canoe Project, Ananguku Arts, SA. Source: Iain Morton, Ananguku Arts
Image: Major 'Moogy' Sumner demonstrates how to build a traditional Ngarrindjeri bark canoe. Goolwa Canoe Project, Ananguku Arts, SA. Source: Iain Morton, Ananguku Arts

Research shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with high participation in cultural activities:

  • are more likely to participate in early childhood education2
  • have markedly better physical and mental health
  • have higher rates of secondary school completion
  • are more likely to be employed
  • are less likely to abuse alcohol or be charged by the police.3

What Indigenous Culture Support (ICS) is achieving

Helping keep Indigenous culture strong

In 2011–12, ICS provided $7.2 million to 125 activities across Australia.

In 20011–12, ICS activities involved multiple cultural forms
% of surveyed ICS funded organisations that used these cultural forms. Community workshops 80%, cultural camps 36%, story telling 72%, radio 19%,  design 27%, festival 49%, bush tucker 46%, arts/crafts 81%, tv or film 45%, dance 52%, drama/theatre 15%, contemporary music 46%, traditional music 48%, cultural camps 36%.

 

I see that the kids really feel they belong now—they have a real belonging. It seems to bring them in… before, many of them were out of school, on the streets, at the shops.
Teacher at the school, Ba-ra Boolarng Dance and Culture program

 

My boy is so proud of being part of all this. It's all he talks about on Tuesday nights [after his dance group]. He's always asking us questions about what we did when we were young but we never know what to say cause we never had this.
Parent of participant, Ba-ra Boolarng Dance and Culture program

 

boys dancing on NAIDOC Day. Right: helping the younger children
Image: Boys dancing on NAIDOC Day. Ba-ra Boolarng Dance and Culture program, Port Stephens Family Support Service, NSW. Source: Susan Pollock

 

helping the younger children with art.
Image: Helping the younger children with art. Ba-ra Boolarng Dance and Culture program, Port Stephens Family Support Service, NSW. Source: Susan Pollock

 

Helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to connect with their culture

  • In 2011–12, over 59,600 people were involved in ICS activities across Australia
  • Participant numbers for each activity range from one position supporting Indigenous arts and culture in a community or region, to thousands of people participating at an annual festival or engaging with a cultural centre
  • 49% of activities involved members of the Stolen Generations, with estimates of between 900 and more than 1100 Stolen Generations members participating in ICS activities in 2011–12
  • Connections to culture can have significant healing and rehabilitative effects.

Supporting new platforms for Indigenous cultural and artistic expression that are particularly engaging for young people

In 2011–12, ICS activities developed a range of resources and utilised new media
% of surveyed ICS funded organisations that developed these types of resources. Books 13%, cds/dvds 46%, animiations 8%, music clips 13%, culture databases 30%, websites 53%, software programs 2%, resources for ipods 3%, smart phone apps 7%, social networking media 48%.

 

 Kateesha Yates records an interview during a Change Media Ngarrindjeri collaboration for Moogy's Yuki in Kalangadoo, SA, Tallstoreez Productionz.
Image: Kateesha Yates records an interview during a Change Media Ngarrindjeri collaboration for
Moogy’s Yuki in Kalangadoo, SA, Tallstoreez Productionz. Source: Jennifer Lyons-Reid, changemedia.net.au

Providing training and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

  • Around 4,450 people received training and skills development through ICS activities in 2011–12
  • 97 jobs based in ICS funded organisations were supported through the Australian Government's Indigenous Employment Initiative, in roles such as cultural administrators and support officers.

In 2011–12, ICS activities resulted in training and skills development
% of surveyed ICS funded organisations that incorporated these training outcomes. Community skills development 86%, professional development for artists and performers 53%, mentoring 82%, on-the-job training 55%, certificate or diploma training 14%, other type of training or skills development 11%.

Supporting community organisations and collaborations in urban, regional and remote Australia

In 2011–12, ICS provided:

  • $2.5 million to support organisations in remote Australia, including $117,600 provided to fund activities in priority remote service delivery communities
  • $2.8 million to support regional organisations
  • $1.9 million to support organisations in major cities.

In 2011–12, ICS activities involved multiple collaborations with other sectors
% of surveyed ICS funded organisations that reported these collaborations. Sports 29%, legal system 18%, health system 53%, universities 36%, TAFE 36%, schools 77%, correctional institutions 24%, cultural institutions 52%.

Closing the Gap

As strong culture is fundamental to Indigenous health and wellbeing, support for Indigenous culture provides a solid foundation to enable outcomes across the Closing the Gap building blocks and targets.

Contributing to other policy objectives

ICS contributes to a number of other Australian Government policy objectives and international commitments, including:

  • National Indigenous Languages Policy
  • Indigenous Contemporary Music Action Plan
  • Indigenous Economic Development Strategy
  • Stolen Generations Working Partnership
  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) and new information and communication technologies hold immense potential for the safeguarding, documentation, transmission and promotion of Indigenous culture, including opportunities for Indigenous creative content.

Support for Indigenous culture also contributes to other government objectives, such as social inclusion.

ICS funding is administered by the Office for the Arts.

Raymond Zada (website designer/developer) with Nunga Wangga radio announcers. Source: Christine Brown.
Image: Raymond Zada (website designer/developer) with Nunga Wangga radio announcers. Source: Christine Brown

 

Young people involved in a circus workshop as part of an arts and culture based remote community leadership and mentoring program, Yalata and Oak Valley, SA. Source: Finton Mahony and Lee-Ann Buckskin, 2011. Carclew Youth Arts.
Image: Young people involved in a circus workshop as part of an arts and culture based remote community leadership and mentoring program, Yalata and Oak Valley, SA. Source: Finton Mahony and Lee-Ann Buckskin, 2011. Carclew Youth Arts

 

A crowd of people from Kellerberrin turned up for the family photo field trip at Kokerbin Rock. Community Arts Network WA. Source: Michelle White.
Image: A crowd of people from Kellerberrin turned up for the family photo field trip at Kokerbin Rock. Community Arts Network WA. Source: Michelle White

 

References

  1. Calma, T., 2008, 'Our culture: Preserving the legacy,' speech given at the Indigenous Studies and Indigenous Knowledge Conference, 3rd July 2008. University of Tasmania, Hobart.
  2. Biddle, N., 2011, An exploratory analysis of the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children, CAEPR Working paper 77/2011.
  3. Dockery, A.M., 2011, 'Traditional Culture and the Wellbeing of Indigenous Australians: An analysis of the 2008 NATSISS,' in Social Science Perspectives on the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 11–12 April 2011, CAEPR, ANU, Canberra.*

* Findings based on analyses of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) data do not support arguments about causation but show positive associations after controlling for other factors.