Celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leads in the media

3 June 2020

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is almost over, but that does not mean that we have to stop celebrating our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities once the week is up. With so much creative content being produced by talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, we thought now would be a valuable time to share some incredible books, films, and TV shows, all starring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leads and artists.   

 We hope that by sharing their content, you will be inspired to continue empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities well after NRW and to continue supporting the diversity and representation of First Nations peoples in the media and wider arts. 

TV programs

Black Comedy: Staying true to its name, Black Comedy is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek comedy series that provides a fast-paced and entertaining look into Australian culture through the lens of our First Nations people. Starring an all-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cast, the show features a range of outrageous comedy skits that are guaranteed to have you laughing, as they tackle some of the most uncomfortable subjects and prove that no area is off-limits.  

Little J and Big Cuz: Featuring the voices of Miranda Tapsell and Deborah Mailman, Little J and Big Cuz is an Australian children’s TV program that follows the adventures of two Aboriginal kids living in the outback with their Nana and Old Dog.  

Mystery Road: Based on a remote cattle station in the Western Australian outback, Mystery Road is a TV crime-drama series that follows the story of Detective Jay Swan, as he investigates the mysterious disappearance of two young farmhands, a local football hero and a white backpacker in a small tight-knit community.  

Redfern Now: Written, directed, and produced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, Redfern Now is TV drama series that tells the powerful stories of six inner city households whose lives are changed by a seemingly insignificant incident. 

Documentaries 

The Final Quarter: Based on the real-life experiences of former  Adnyamathanha AFL player Adam Goodes, The Final Quarter is a documentary that details the confronting events surrounding the racist abuse experienced by Goodes during the closing of his AFL career.  

Transblack: Following the lives of four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander transgender men and women, Transblack is an ABC series that documents the experiences of being a First Nations transgender person living in contemporary Australia. The show addresses strong themes of race, gender and identity and the journey of self-discovery and acceptance. 

In My Blood It Runs: Directed by Maya Newell, In My Blood It Runs is a thought-provoking and intimate documentary looking into the perspective of 10-year-old Dujuan, an Arrernte/Garrwa boy living in Alice Springs. Throughout the documentary, viewers are invited into the mind of Dujuan as he struggles to balance his traditional upbringing with state education.  

Films 

The Sapphires: Inspired by the true story of four Yorta Yorta Women, The Sapphires is a heart-warming comedy-drama that follows the journey of the McRae sisters as they move from small country Victoria to travel around performing for troops during the Vietnam war.  

Top End Wedding: Lauren and Ned are newly engaged. With their wedding fast approaching, they only have ten days to find Lauren’s mother who has gone AWOL in the remote far north of Australia so they can reunite her parents to pull off their top end wedding.  

Ten Canoes: Set in the Arnhem Land 120 years ago, Ten Canoes follows the life of Minygululu as he shares cautionary tales of his people and his land in an attempt to ward off his younger brother, Dayindi, from stealing his wife. 

Beneath the Clouds: After rejecting her Aboriginal mother in search for her Irish father, Lena meets up with petty criminal, Vaughn, who has just escaped an isolation prison camp to try and try and unite with his sick mother. Following their meeting, the two hardened young souls escape from their worlds and hitchhike together towards Sydney in a struggle for purpose, identity, and love. 

Books 

The Tall Man: Death and Life on Palm Island by Chloe Hooper: The Tall Man tells a true story that took place on Palm Island, the tropical paradise where one morning Cameron Doomadgee swore at a policeman and forty minutes later lay dead in a watch-house cell. 

Am I Black Enough For You? By Anita Heiss: Am I Black Enough For You follows the story of an urban-based high achieving Aboriginal woman working to break down stereotypes and build bridges between black and white Australia. 

Carpentaria by Alexis Wright: Carpentaria centres around the northern coastal town of Desperance as four groups, the Phantom Family, the East End mob, uptown officials and the neighbouring mining company, battle over the town’s native land rights.  

The Fethafoot Chronicles By Pemulwuy Weeatunga: Written through a collection of ten books, The Fethafoot Chronicles follows the historical journey of the Fethafoot Clan (half-man, half-spirit warriors) as they share epic stories of their adventures travelling through time and land.  

Musicians 

Thelma Plum: Hailing from the small town of Delungra, New South Wales, Thelma Plum is a Gamilaraay singer-songwriter best known for her hypnotic folk tunes and powerful lyrics. In 2012, Thelma became the winner of the Triple J‘s National Indigenous Music Awards and was later ranked the highest Aboriginal artist ever in the Triple J Hottest 100 in 2020.  

Adam Briggs: Adam Briggs is an Australian rapper, hip hop artist and actor. He is an Indigenous Australian of the Yorta Yorta people and is best known for his solo rap career before co-founding the hip hop duo A.B. Original in 2016.  

Emily Wurramara:Aria Nominated Artist Emily Wurramara is a singer-songwriter from Groote Eylandt. She is best known for her mesmerising vocals and ability to sing in her traditional native language, Anindilyakwa. She is a three times Queensland Music Award Winner and was recently awarded Best Blues and Roots Album of the Year at the 2019 AIR Award for her debut album, “Milyakburra”.  

Lonely Boys: Originating from the remote Arnhemland community of Ngukurr in Darwin, Lonely Boys are a six-piece guitar inspired rock band who has been playing in the community for over ten years. In 2006, Lonely Boys won the Barunga Battle of the bands competition and later became the headlining band for the same festival in 2016. 

Podcasts 

Pretty for an Aboriginal: Hosted by Nakkiah Lui and Miranda Tapsell, Pretty for an Aboriginal is a podcast series that talks about the unique challenges faced by First Nations women in contemporary Australia. The podcast aims to rock traditional perceptions of Aboriginal Australia and challenge rigid mindsets of what women of colour can and cannot do. 

Living Black: Widely considered as Australia’s premier Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander current affairs program, Living Black provides timely, intelligent, and comprehensive news coverage of issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia today.  

Tiddas 4 Tiddas: Hosted by Tiddas founder Marlee Silva, Tiddas 4 Tiddas is a podcast series aimed at raising awareness and inspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander excellence in the hopes of achieving reconciliation. The podcast delves into prevalent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues and invites guests of all backgrounds to engage in diverse conversations about empowerment, representation, identity, and culture. 

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