• Learning to read and write in 'In My Own Words'. (SBS)Source: SBS
For the next four weeks, NITV and SBS shine a light on the Indigenous population’s sense of place in our nation.
SBS Guide

13 Jul 2017 - 4:51 PM  UPDATED 14 Jul 2017 - 9:18 AM

What does it mean to be an Indigenous person in 2017? That’s the question addressed by a series of documentaries set to air over the next month on NITV and SBS.

The four films take a modern day look at the Indigenous experience in Australia, focusing specifically on issues such as literacy, identity, environment and the impact of history.

Sure to provoke discussion among viewers – whatever their cultural background – the series of documentaries shows the reality of being Indigenous in parts of Australia today.


We Don’t Need a Map

The Southern Cross has become much more than just the five stars we see in the night sky in this part of the world. The celestial body has been claimed by some as a symbol of Australian-ness thanks to its use on the national flag and following on as a popular tattoo, but its meaning to and significance for Indigenous people stretches back 100,000 years. Filmmaker Warwick Thornton (Samson & Delilah), who controversially declared the Southern Cross was being used "like a swastika" in 2009, examines the importance of the star pattern as part of what it means to be a contemporary Australian – for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. His film We Don’t Need a Map recently opened the 2017 Sydney Film Festival and takes a light-hearted approach to a serious subject matter.

Watch We Don’t Need A Map on Sunday 23 July 8.30pm on SBS.


In My Own Words

Proving age should be no barrier to learning to read and write, this documentary from writer/director Erica Glynn looks at the work of the Literacy for Life Foundation in regional Australia. The organisation is attempting to make inroads into the estimated 40 to 65 percent illiteracy rate among Indigenous adults. In My Own Words follows a 13-week course held in the tiny outback town of Brewarrina, NSW, as the students and their teachers – locals who have been given classroom training – learn together. It’s a slow and difficult process, but the determination of the participants to succeed make this an inspiring watch. In My Own Words is nominated for the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary.

Watch In My Own Words on Sunday 30 July 8.30pm on SBS.


Connection to Country

Also nominated for the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary, this film from director Tyson Mowarin highlights the battle undertaken by the people of Western Australia’s Pilbara region to protect the Burrup Peneinsula. The sacred site, also known as Murujuga, is home to the world’s largest collection of rock art but is under threat from the mining industry. Connection to Country delves into the events that led to the current situation, and shows the deep bond the Indigenous people of the region have to the land and their efforts to preserve their culture for all Australians to enjoy.

Watch Connection to Country on Sunday 6 August 8.30pm on NITV and 9.30pm on SBS.


Occupation Native

The majority of Australians grew up with a very one-sided history of our nation. From white settlement to today, that account has mostly been viewed from a single perspective. Occupation Native sets out to change that. Using a range of approaches – some serious, some humorous – filmmaker Trisha Morton-Thomas adjusts the narrative to include the experience and history of Australia’s Indigenous community. There’s always more than one way to look at a story, and this documentary presents – without judgement – a perspective that’s been disregarded for too long.

Watch Occupation Native on Sunday 13th August 8.30pm on NITV and 9.30pm on SBS.

More on the Guide
Why it’s necessary to explore a range of diverse opinions on Indigenous issues
NITV channel manager Tanya Denning-Orman explores how diverse voices can contribute in allowing us all to move forward and build a stronger society together.
Here’s why indigenous television matters
“For the first time their communities could simply sit back and watch their favourite sport and hear the commentary in their own language – in their own country.”