What to read, watch, listen to, and more in NAIDOC Week 2021

Always was. Always will be.

Let’s ensure Naidoc Week 2021 as a time for learning.

Whether you’re only just starting out, or you’ve been learning to become a better ally over time, there is always more to learn.

For anyone unfamiliar, NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

NAIDOC Week 2021 will be held from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July.

The NAIDOC 2021 theme – Heal Country! – calls for all of us to continue to seek greater protections for Indigenous lands, waters, sacred sites and cultural heritage from exploitation, desecration, and destruction. You can read more about this year’s theme here.

If you haven’t already, use NAIDOC Week 2021 as an opportunity to diversify your news feeds and add something new to your tv and book lists. While this is in no way exhaustive, we thought it could be a great place to start. 

A warning to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait readers, the following content may contain images and voices of deceased persons.

To read:

true tracks naidoc week 2021

True Tracks by Terri Janke

True Tracks is a ground-breaking work that paves the way for the respectful and ethical engagement with Indigenous knowledges and cultures. Combining real-world cases and personal stories, award-winning Meriam/Wuthathi lawyer Dr Terri Janke draws on twenty years of professional experience to inform and inspire leaders across many industries; from art and architecture, to film and publishing, dance, science and tourism.

True Tracks helps answer these questions and many more, and provides invaluable guidelines that enable Indigenous peoples to actively practise, manage and strengthen their cultural life and empower future generations.

catching teller crow naidoc week 2021

Catching Teller Crow – Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

Written by the incredible brother-sister duo Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, who come from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia, Catcher Telling Crow is a young adult novel that’s part thriller and part ghost story. Told in alternating perspectives – it tells the story of a young, dead woman Beth Teller who is trying to communicate with her father. Catching Teller Crow seamlessly weaves themes of grief, colonial history, violence against women, love and family through an atmospheric mystery set in a small town in regional Australia.

The Yield – Tara June Winch

Winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2020, and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2020 – for Fiction, People’s Choice and Book of the Year, Wiradjuri author Tara June Winch’s latest book The Yield is stunning. It tells the story of a young woman named August Gondiwindi who returns to her family home by the Murrumby River on Massacre Plains after her grandfather Albert’s death. She soon discovers that Albert had begun to write a Wiradjuri dictionary before his death. A story of a people and a culture dispossessed, but also a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

Too Much Lip – Melissa Lucashenko

Melissa Lucashenko is a Goorie author of the Bundjalung people from northern coastal New South Wales, her latest novel Too Much Lip is a darkly comic story about a wise-cracking woman named Kerry Slater who, when she hears that her Pop is dying, heads home on a stolen motorbike and discovers just how strong the pull of one’s home country can be.

Butterfly Song by Terri Janke

Terri Janke’s semi-autobiographical debut novel Butterfly Song tells the story of Indigenous law graduate Tarena Shaw and the love story of her grandparents, Kit and Francesca. The novel follows Tarena through the defining periods of her life and her journey to reclaim her grandparent’s pearl butterfly. 

Living on Stolen Land by Ambelin Kwaymullina

You are on Indigenous lands,
swimming in Indigenous waters,
looking up at Indigenous skies. 

Living on Stolen Land is a prose-styled look at our colonial-settler ‘present’. It pulls apart the myths at the heart of our nationhood, and challenges Australia to come to terms with its own past and its place within and on Indigenous Countries. 

This title speaks to many First Nations’ truths – stolen lands, sovereignties, time, decolonisation, First Nations perspectives, systemic bias and other constructs that inform our present discussions and ever-expanding understanding.

Tell Me Why by Archie Roach

A powerful memoir of a true Australian legend: stolen child, musical and lyrical genius, and leader.

Roach was only two years old when he was forcibly removed from his family. Brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, his world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of.

In this intimate, moving and often shocking memoir, Archie’s story is an extraordinary odyssey through love and heartbreak, family and community, survival and renewal – and the healing power of music. 

Don’t miss Archie Roach on tour later this year!

the white girl

The White Girl by Tony Birch

In The White Girl, Miles-Franklin-shortlisted author Tony Birch shines a spotlight on the 1960s and the devastating government policy of taking Indigenous children from their families.

Odette Brown has lived her whole life on the fringes of a small country town. After her daughter disappeared and left her with her granddaughter Sissy to raise on her own, Odette has managed to stay under the radar of the welfare authorities who are removing fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. When a new policeman arrives in town, determined to enforce the law, Odette must risk everything to save Sissy and protect everything she loves.

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia by Anita Heiss

Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia by Anita Heiss

What is it like to grow up Aboriginal in Australia?

This anthology, compiled by award-winning author Anita Heiss, showcases many diverse voices, experiences and stories in order to answer that question. Accounts from well-known authors and high-profile identities sit alongside those from newly discovered writers of all ages. All of the contributors speak from the heart sometimes calling for empathy, oftentimes challenging stereotypes, always demanding respect

To watch:

In My Blood It Runs (ABC iView)

In My Blood It Runs | Trailer

The critically-acclaimed documentary told through the eyes of charismatic 10-year-old Arrernte/Garrwa boy, Dujuan and his family, revealing the challenges Dujuan faces both in his school and on the streets of Alice Springs. You can watch it here.

The Australian Dream (ABC iView)

The Australian Dream – Official Trailer

The remarkable story of Indigenous AFL legend Adam Goodes. Through the backdrop of Goodes’ journey, the feature documentary explores race, identity and belonging in Australia today. It prompts questions about Australia’s relationship with racism and its ability to confront its own past. This compelling, provocative and cinematic film uses interviews from both sides of the debate to ask probing and fundamental questions about what it means to be Australian and what it takes for any individual to stand up for what they truly believe in. You can watch it here.

Freeman (ABC iView)

FREEMAN – Trailer

Cathy Freeman’s win at the Sydney 2000 Olympics is undoubtedly one of the greatest collective experiences in Australian modern history. Watched by billions of people worldwide, the 400-metre sprint on the evening of September 25 had everyone from Sydney to Arnhem Land glued to the TV. Twenty years later, Freeman explores the beauty of this singular moment and celebrates the power of human connection. You can watch it here.

Living Black (SBS On Demand)

Prolific journalist Karla Grant sits down with inspiring and influential people from home and overseas, to delve into issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and bring personal insight to extraordinary stories. You can watch it here.

High Ground (Amazon Prime Video)

High Ground – Official Trailer

High Ground tells the story of First World War veteran sniper Travis (Simon Baker), who leads a patrol of officers into Arnhem Land to apprehend a pair of Aboriginal getaways.

The patrol locates the two among an Aboriginal tribe. What should have been an operation of minimal force becomes a bloodthirsty massacre of innocent people. Disgusted by the event and the subsequent cover-up by his commanding officer, Moran (played by the iconic Jack Thompson), Travis leaves the force.

He returns 12 years later to hunt down Baywara (Sean Mununggurr), an Aboriginal warrior outlaw causing mayhem among new settlers.

Desperate to atone for – and to avoid repeating – past events, Travis recruits mission-raised Gutjuk (Jacob Junior Nayinggul), the only known massacre survivor, as his tracker. But the truth is soon revealed about Travis’s involvement in the past event. You can read more about it here.

Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy (SBS On Demand)

Westwind: Djalu's Legacy – The Film – Official Trailer

Yolngu warrior, shaman and father Djalu Gurruwiwi, with some help from global pop star Gotye, must find a way to bring two worlds together to save his culture.

Djalu Gurruwiwi, an ageing Yolngu elder and master Yidaki (didgeridoo) player, is a custodian of his people’s ancient Songlines that have stored his clan’s Knowledge, Culture and Country since the birth of time. But Djalu is running out of time to pass on these Songlines, entrusted to him for the future of his people. His sons and community, struggling to come to terms with the consequences of colonisation, are lost. When Djalu breaks with tradition in an effort to save the Songlines, world-famous musician Gotye becomes an unexpected family member and helps amplify the songs to the world. You can watch it here.

To listen to:

Regularly curated by members of the local Indigenous community, the playlist comprises of 50 songs, and aims to be an immersion into the diverse sounds of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music. It changes every week, so you’ll always hear something new. Listen here.

Curated by Kee’ahn, Soju Gang and DJ PGZ. Music plays an important role in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures enabling the communication of knowledge and wisdom, to express experiences, thoughts, wants and fears.
LOLI 6 was dedicated to NAIDOC WEEK 2020 “Always was always will be”

As we move in to the Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032, AIATSIS will continue to grow this playlist featuring some of the 250+ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages!

Indigenous Australian Storytellers. Curator: Rhianna Patrick. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander listeners are advised that the following playlist may contain voices and images of people who have passed away.

Always Was, Always Will Be. First Nations Voices recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.

An epic playlist of 85 tracks from over 80 First Nations artists from across Australia telling First Nations stories old and new, through heartbreak, healing, survival, resilience and growth. Now playing throughout Arts Centre Melbourne’s public spaces

To learn from:


A space for learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Blak) topics (Business)

Blak Business is an incredible space filled with information, knowledge, and resources to help facilitate broader learning and discussion about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island topics.

Learn which Aboriginal Country you are on:

Mainland ‘Australia’ is comprised of over 250 Aboriginal nations each with their own language, culture, customs and communities. Many people only know places of this continent by their assigned settler colonial names such as ‘New South Wales’, ‘Perth’ and ‘Grampians’. However, it is important to remember that all of this content is – and always has been – Aboriginal land. Knowing the traditional name of the Country you are on, and other significant places, is important for recognising Aboriginal knowledge systems, peoples and custodianship, and for acknowledging the true history of this continent. You can find a host of resources on BlakBusiness’ website.


Clothing the Gaps is an Aboriginal owned and Aboriginal led social enterprise, uniting people through fashion and cause. Clothing The Gap is a play on the words “Closing the Gap”, which is an Australian Government health initiative to help close the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal people and non-Indigenous Australians. Clothing The Gap unites non-Indigenous and Aboriginal people through fashion and causes.

As well as making and designing merch for First Nations people, and allies to wear, they also run powerful campaigns including their Free The Flag campaign and their latest Shades of Deadly – created to challenge stereotypes of First Nation people, create a platform for culture and a safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to embrace their identities.


Brightening your day with a dose of culture through Aboriginal storyworks.

If you’re looking to brighten up your Instagram feed with some beautiful artwork, Bigi Nagala should be your go to. She regularly uploads images of her beautiful works, as well as captions that talk about the symbolism and meaning behind each work.



 Australia’s only national institution focused exclusively on the diverse history, cultures and heritage of First Nation Australians.


Common Ground is a First Nations-led not-for-profit. They’re working to shape a society that centres First Nations people by amplifying knowledge, cultures and stories.

NAIDOC Week 2021 will take place from Sunday 4 July to Sunday 11 July. Learn more at