Indigenous Culture

Almost 30 percent of Indigenous Australians participate in Indigenous creative arts

The 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) found that around two in three Indigenous people had participated in a selected cultural activity (63%). Just over one quarter had participated in a creative arts activity such as Indigenous arts and crafts, music, dance or theatre and writing or telling stories (28 percent).This has remained steady on the participation rates seen in 2002.[1]

Among the creative arts activities, Indigenous arts and crafts were the most popular, with 17 percent (almost 56,600) of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over taking part at least once in the 12 months prior to interview. Around 15 percent participated in writing or telling stories and 11 percent participated in music, dance or theatre.

Overall participation in creative arts activities was slightly higher for Indigenous people aged 35 years and over with 31 percent participating compared to 26 percent for Indigenous people aged 15-34 years. In particular, participation in writing or telling stories was higher for Indigenous people aged 35 years and over (20 percent), compared with 12 percent for those aged 15 to 34 years.

Almost one quarter of Indigenous people aged over 15 years attended a festival or carnival involving arts, craft, music or dance in the 12 months prior to the 2008 interview (23 percent), 36% attended NAIDOC week activities and 39% attended funerals/ Sorry business

An overwhelming majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders also want to participate more in cultural activities. However there is a real risk that culture will be lost as elders pass away.[1]


[1] The Closing the Gap: Prime Ministers Report 2013 highlights statistics which show that the Indigenous population is young (47% of the Indigenous population is under the age of 20, and only 9% is aged 54 and above). Additionally, a very high percentage of Indigenous Australian deaths occur before the age of 65 years. Together, these suggest that, without appropriate resources, Indigenous elders may be passing away faster than their culture and knowledge can be passed on