Rights of Culture – Victor Steffensen

Victor Steffensen

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I am an indigenous film maker, musician and consultant reapplying traditional knowledge into today’s society and changing world. I have been interested in traditional knowledge since I was a boy and was inspired by my mothers heritage, the Takalaka people of Northern Queensland, and their struggles through the stolen generation years. My work started in 1995 when I became alarmed by the urgent need to record the valuable wisdom of the Elders before it was lost. Over many years, through my love of the arts, film making, culture and environment, this has developed into my life work: re-engaging traditional practices through creative community projects.


My work is based on a holistic knowledge map which includes people, the relationship with the land, and our evolving culture; so I find myself undertaking projects in health, culture, education, and environment. Working with communities and documenting their aspirations through the art of film revealed a process of empowerment which I see has the potential to pave a road for generations to follow. Translating, educating, and recording indigenous and community knowledge is best done through visual story telling, and I believe film is the closest way that technology can match traditional transfer and passing down. My dream in portraying these stories is to encourage the oral teaching practice of indigenous peoples which sustained healthy cultures worldwide for thousands of years.

After many years of trying to achieve recognition for traditional knowledge through government systems and other organisations, I have learnt that the best way to make an influence is by simply having fun, reimplementing activities we believe in, and creating education for our children. This is how my work has led me to develop the Living Knowledge Place, a community driven education site that show cases our culture, our country, and our aspirations for the future of our environment and our wellbeing.

The common desire I find from indigenous elders right across Australia and the world is to have indigenous knowledge taught in schools. What I see missing from Indigenous Australia is the opportunity to demonstrate our values, and for the benefits of those values to be shared by mainstream society; a platform for our community works and aspirations; our own education which is relevant to our children and the environment we live in; an initiative that acts on challenging world issues such as climate change from a community level; an educational resource that we can share and take ownership of, to inspire opportunities and ideas that evolve all of Australia into the future.

You can visit the Living Knowledge Place today and check out the community projects and regions already involved. Go to www.livingknowledgeplace.com.au for more details.


Victor Steffensen