In 2023 we invite schools to be inspired by, and engage with, this year’s learning
theme: What Stories Will You Dream?
Stories are how we understand the world around us. They inform what we know and
shape how we act. The Australia we live in today is built upon the stories of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. These stories are about the Dreaming
and Creation, and sharing them connects people to Country and culture. These
stories teach lore, and are a record of knowledges and traditions that have been
passed down over tens of thousands of years.
Throughout the long history of what is now known as Australia, the world’s oldest
living cultures have told and shared stories of culture and Dreaming; stories of hurt
and devastation; stories of strength and resilience; stories of change; and stories still
Dreaming stories are a record of history, culture and life. They explain how things
came to be and teach ways to care for the environment and each other. They impart
knowledge of navigation and how to find food and water. They show us how to treat
others and how to keep our communities safe. Stories encompass all aspects of life
and are crucial to survival. For generations, they have been shared orally, and
through song, dance and art, with Elders playing a vital role in ensuring the
preservation of these stories and language.
European arrival and settlement deeply impacted the way these stories were, and
continue to be, shared. Dispossession of peoples from Country, separation of
children from family, and government policies which banned and discouraged
Aboriginal people from speaking their languages at school or on Christian missions
mean that many stories have been lost. Many Aboriginal languages in NSW are
already lost, or at high risk of extinction.
Colonisation also changed the stories that were being told. We now hear stories of
historical figures who have paved the way for a more just and equitable society for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Leaders like Vincent Lingiari protesting
for fair pay and work conditions, and Eddie Mabo fighting for his people’s land rights
and overturning the notion of Terra Nullius. The Aboriginal tent embassy activists
and their long-running show of resistance against the unacceptable treatment of
people on their own land, and the more recent campaign championed by Cheree
Toka to fly the Aboriginal flag on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
We all have an opportunity to contribute to an important story being written now. We
can accept the generous invitation in the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk with
First Nations Peoples to enshrine an Indigenous Voice in the Australian Constitution.
As we embark on writing the next chapter in our nation’s history, it is time to reflect
upon the stories told and those we are yet to tell. In an Australia where racism still
exists and health and educational outcomes are significantly poorer for First Nations peoples.
This year’s theme asks teachers and students to consider how we can advance the work of those who came before us in creating a fair and equitable society.
What story will you dream for reconciliation?
How will you contribute to making it a reality?
In 2023 we acknowledge the many stories that celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples’ cultures and histories, and endeavour to explore what stories we
leave behind for generations to come. Through art-making and writing, we invite you
to share your interpretations of stories in all their forms, and imagine new dreams for
BY EXPLORING THE THEME What Stories Will You Dream? STUDENTS WILL:
In 2023, we encourage all participating schools to engage with the lesson plans and
activities, and additional resources we have gathered for this year’s challenge to
inspire your students to draw, paint, write or sing about their increased knowledge and understanding of the theme What Stories Will You Dream?
Activity: Getting started with the theme: What Stories Will You Dream?
Activity for What Stories Will You Dream? And Reconciliation Mind Map