After decades, supporting First Nations communities in the recording and sharing of cultural knowledge and stories, Liz Thompson has been awarded the Judges Award for Innovator in the 2021 Pro Bono Impact Awards.
The award is a testament to the hard work and dedication over many years. Liz began working with Indigenous communities in 1992 and has worked all over Australia. Her earlier work from Cape York, the Torres Strait Islands, the Kimberley, Western New South Wales, Arnhem Land and Tasmania resulted in the 2008 and 2011 release of the two-part series ‘Sharing Our Stories’. The series is a collection of fourteen books created in collaboration with Indigenous communities. The work won the 2009 Australian Awards for Excellence in Educational Publishing and the Best Primary Teaching and Learning Package.
SharingStories was founded in 2012, so communities could have a culturally safe space and the resources to record their cultural knowledge and stories. Mentoring and developing skills in young people is one of the organisation’s strongest values. The foundation instils various skills and nurtures a deep interest in cultural recording and mapping. Community members are immersed in this practise as part of the joint programs, so recording language and knowledge can become part of everyday life.
In winning the Innovator award, Liz thanked the generosity of partner communities and their role in leading the work on Country. While acknowledging the foundation’s use of new media, Liz strongly emphasised the importance of Elders passing knowledge to young people, as stories are mapped and shared on Country in each community.
‘We always work in a circular fashion, so the foundation of our practice is always returning young people to Country with Elders for the purpose of intergenerational transmission where the ancestors speak through Country also’, Liz explained during the ceremony.
The award presentation has been uploaded for viewing. To watch the ceremony and presentation, go to: https://vimeo.com/538947351
Image: Liz working with Djungadjunga Yunupingu, who is a dalkarramirri (ceremonial ritual specialist) of the Yirritja clan groups and Jessica Malara recording the story of Djulpan on Elcho Island in 2010