Family is one of the most unifying bonds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families consist of grandparents, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunties, brothers, sisters, cousins and complex extended families of in-laws and cultural kin. 

Family relationships connect people to one another, and is an important element in the relationship the ancestral lands and their environments. Prior to colonisation, Aboriginal families had a system of social identification which recognised a family’s connection to land, water and people. Elements of these systems continue to varying degrees among all families and language groups. Some Aboriginal families continue to link specific totems with social kinship rights and rights to country. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families live, work, participate, and contribute successfully to the wider community, while maintaining respect for ancient traditions.  Storytelling in families is an important way to maintain these connections. Elders play an important role in Aboriginal societies and are recognised for their knowledge and experience are duly respected in family and organisational structures. Elders are valued and their counsel is often sought for advice on issues including social, economic, political and physical relationships as well as advice in caring for country for past, present and future generations.  

Sing me the song of the sky by Jane Hill

Tell me that story once again Nan…
how that creek was made
And the world began when that snake lay down
and pushed up the land,
to make all this country
of water and sand.

Tell me once more of all our Old People,
of creatures and birds that can’t fly!
Tell me my history, my culture,
my country
and sing me the song of the sky.

Tell me while Gillen the Moon looks down
and smiles her light on our land
and when I grow up I’ll pass on the stories,
the history and songs of my clan.

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.