Indigenous Arts, Cultural and Language Centres

“Strong art centres play a role in maintaining and strengthening cultural values – operating as meeting places and offering opportunities for training, education and enterprise.” Australian Government Indigenous Arts Centres Strategy and Action Plan
Indigenous Arts, Culture and/or Language Centres are Indigenous owned and governed. It is therefore valuable for teachers to liaise with centre managers regarding exhibitions, or content, engagement of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander artists, finding contacts within communities for Elders or traditional knowledge owners.

The information on this page will assist teachers and artists to research the different ATSI peoples of Australia and work towards preserving their language and culture.
It is estimated that at the time of arrival by Europeans there were more than 250 Indigenous languages across the country. According to the Australian Indigenous Languages Database less than 20 are now spoken by all age groups.
See ABC’s Indigenous Language Map and Horton Aboriginal Language Boundaries map of Western Australia (adapted and posted online at Kaartdijin Noongar).
“To all Australians I say: take pride in the Indigenous languages of our nation. Indigenous languages bring with them rich cultural heritage, knowledge and a spiritual connection to the land...”
Mr Shane Neuman, Chair, House of Representatives, Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs – Forward, ‘Our Land, Our Languages’ Commonwealth of Australia 2012

Below are three peak bodies which service the following Indigenous Art Centre members:

Western Australian members – Martumili Artists (Newman), Mungart Boodja Art Centre (Albany), Birriliburu Artists/Tjukurba Gallery (Wiluna), Wirnda Barna Artists (Mt Magnet), Yamaji Art (Geraldton), Roebourne Art Group (Roebourne), Spinifex Arts Project (Tjuntjuntjara), Walkatjurra Cultural Centre (Leonora).
Western Australian (Kimberley region) members - Bidyadanga Community Arts Centre artists (Bidyadanga community), Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency (Fitzroy Crossing), Mowanjun Artists (Derby), Laarri Gallery (Halls Creek/Fitzroy Crossing), Waringarri Aboriginal Arts (Kununurra), Warlayirti Artists (Balgo), Warmun Art Centre (Warmun), Yarliyil Art Centre (Halls Creek), Yaruman Art and Cultural Centre (Kundat Djaru Community aka Ringer Soak, SW of Halls Creek), Looma Arts (Derby), Nagula Jarndu Designs (Broome), Wudicupildiyerr Women's Centre (Darwin/Katherine), Yirrabii Arts and Crafts (Kununurra), Yulparija Artists from Bidyadanga (Bidyadanga community), Kira Kiro Kalumburu Artists (Kalumburu).
DesArt – supporting Aboriginal Art Centres of Central Australia. Western Australian members - Kayili Artists (Patjarr), Martumili Artists (Newman), Maruku Arts ( Uluru, Northern Territory), The Minyma Kutjara Arts Project (Wingellina), Papulankutja Artists (Blackstone), Papunya Tula Artists (Western Desert), Spinifex Hill Artists (Port Hedland), Tjanpi Desert Weavers (Alice Springs, Northern Territory), Tjarlirli Art (Tjukurla), Warakurna Artists (Warakurna), Warlayirti Artists (Balgo).

Additional Cultural Centres and artist groups in Western Australia: Cultural Centres and artist groups in Western Australia:

  • Map of Western Australian Aboriginal Arts Centres.
  • Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre (KALACC) – based in Fitzroy Crossing KALACC support the traditional cultural practices of the 30 language groups of the Kimberley region in Western Australia. KALACC encourages the participation of these groups in song, story and dance, as they keep their culture strong through sharing their knowledge with people through performance and through cultural practices. KALACC has strong links with the Kimberley Land Council and with the Kimberley Language Resource Centre (see link below).
  • Kira Kiro Kalumburu Art Centre – established in 2009 and located in Kalumburu, the northern most community in Western Australia; ,operates under the auspices of Waringarri Arts Centre in Kununurra.
  • Laverton Leonora Cross Cultural Association – provides and enhances the employment, training, economic development and retention of Aboriginal people.
  • Yinjaa Barni Art (Roebourne) – consists of a group of artists who predominantly belong to the Yindjibarndi language group and whose ancestral homelands are around the Millstream Tablelands in the Pilbara region of Western Australia
  • Yulparija Artists of Bidyadanga – Bidyadanga is located on the Western Australian coast 250km south of Broome. Artists are represented exclusively by the Short St. Gallery in Broome.
  • Tjulyuru Cultural and Civic Centre (Warburton) - a civic and cultural hub for visitors and locals based at the Warburton Community on the Great Central Road.
  • Ngurra Arts (Ngumpan Community) - located approximately halfway between Broome and Kununurra and reopened in 2014 represents artists from Walmajarri and Wangkajunga country.
  • Marin Studio - based at the Marninwarntijura Women's Resource Centre in Fitzroy Crossing, artists create contemporary block and screen-printed textiles and hand painted boab nuts.
  • Waringarri Aborigial Arts - The land of the Miriwoong people covers a large tract of country straddling the Western Australian and Northern Territory border and includes the township of Kununurra in the East Kimberley, Lake Argyle, the Keep River and the Ord River irrigation area. Learn about Miriwoong culture and art by visiting Waringarri's public art sites; Arts Centre tours also available.

Western Australian Museums:

  • Western Australian Museum: The Museum’s early collections reflect hunting and gathering lifestyles, and personal adornment of the peoples of the South West, Pilbara, Desert and Kimberley regions.
  • Berndt Museum: The Berndt Museum holds extensive collections of Australian Aboriginal art and Aboriginal cultural materials, including the Carrolup collection of Noongar children's art.
  • Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation: The Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation strives to empower the healing of [Noongar] people’s lives and communities through cultural initiatives that strengthen the spiritual identity and creates a sense of belonging. The Kyana Gallery and Keeping Rooms hold extensive exhibits and displays of significant and rare art works and artefacts from the South-West region of the Noongar people.

Aboriginal languages in the Western Australian Curriculum:

Aboriginal Language Centres in Western Australia:

Mobile devise applications:

Further reading and contacts:

  • Noongar language lessons - video.
  • The Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project - supports the maintenance of Noongar Language by sharing Wirlomin stories and dialect with Noongar families and communities as part of a process to claim, control and enhance Noongar cultural heritage. The project also aims to promote Noongar arts and cultura through language, storytelling, illustration, music, song and dance to the Noongar community in Perth, Albany and other selected regional centres and to provide an opportunity for people to participate in cross-cultural shared activities.
  • Noongarpedia Project - began in 2014 by a team from The University of Western Australia let by school of Indigenous studies professor and Noongar elder Leonard Collard, with Curtin University's John Hartley and the Miles Franklin award-winning novelist Kim Scott.
  • Indigenous Languages and Arts (Languages) - Australian Government support helps people to keep cultural identity strong (via funding, employment initiatives and community programs).
  • Kimberley Aboriginal Art Trail Map - a self-drive guide to centres of contemporary art making.
  • Capturing five Indigenous languages, 54 Indigenous voices and 26 original tracks, #SoundsOfThePilbara II has launched and is ready to be listened to and inspire! Sounds Of The Pilbara II showcases five Indigenous languages from WA's Pilbara region including Nyiyaparli, Nyanguamarta, Nyamal, Ngarluma and Kurrama. Recorded over three weeks in a temporary studio in South Hedland, the compilation features 26 tracks, and the involvement of 14 contributing vocalists and over 40 students from the Strelley Community School (Warralong and Strelley campuses).
  • Boodjar: Nyungar place names in the South-West - an interactive cultural mapping project by the School of Indigenous Studies, The University of Western Australia
  • Pronunciation of Pilbara Traditional Owners Names [PDF]
  • Australian Government – Indigenous art centres strategy and action plan.
  • Australian Council for Education Research – Indigenous Language Programs in Australian Schools (2008).
  • Austlang – Australian Indigenous Language Database.
  • Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies - Databases and indexes - includes linkes to variety of resources such as AusAnthrop Australian Aboriginal tribal database.
  • The Federation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages and Culture (FATSILC).
  • Our Languages - a website produced as a place where visitors can share and collaborate on activities surrounding Australia's traditional Aboriginal languages. 
  • ABC Holding our Tongues – language project online.
  • Parliament of Australia – Inquiry into language learning in Indigenous Communities
  • Aboriginal Languages of Australia edited by David Nathan.
  • Creative Spirits – language resource.
  • Book: Department of Education and Training, 2000. Deadly Yarns, Anecdotes about Language, Culture, Identity and Power from the Deadly Ways to Learn Project. Deadly Ways to Learn Consortium, Perth, 2000.
  • Publications:
    - Department of Education and Training 2002. Ways of Being, Ways of Talk. Department of Education and Training, Perth, 2001.
    - Malcolm, L., Haig, Y., Konigsberg, P., Rochescouste, J., Collard, G., Hill, A., and Cahill, R 1999. Two-Way English Towards a more user-friendly education for speakers of Aboriginal English. Education Department of Western Australia 1999.
    - Communicating Positively, A Guide to Appropriate Aboriginal Terminology 2004, NSW Health.
  • The Endangered Languages Project - a worldwide collaboration to strengthen endangered languages.
  • Talking Language with Ernie Dingo - (video) produced by CAAMA Productions - article via SBS.
  • Language Agreements and Protocol Guidelines - Sample language agreements and protocol guidelines to assist Indigenous communities and their consultants (schools, linguists, anthropologists, ICT specialists) through the process of developing and using language materials at a local level.
  • Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre (NSW), supports language documentation and conservation programs nationally and internationally.
  • Iltyem-iltyem - Northern Territory Language Support Program - Central Australia. This website is for people who teach and learn Central Australian sign languages.
  • Living Archieve of Aboriginal Languages - is a digital archive of endangered literature in Australian Indigenous languages of the Northern Territory.

Warning. Information in this section of the ArtsEdge website may contain the names, images or recordings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. The ArtsEdge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture in education portal may also contain links to sites that may use images and/or recordings of Aboriginal and Islander people now deceased. Artists or educators researching Indigenous content for educational purposes should use their discretion when viewing online content.

Details about artists and organisations outside the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries do not constitute an endorsement of those artists or organisations or their programs, products or services. School communities are responsible for making their own assessment of these artists or organisations in accordance with relevant Department of Education policies, procedures and guidelines. Users should seek professional and specialised advice for their individual situations.