Cultural Advisory

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this resource contains a range of material which may be considered culturally sensitive, including the images and records of people who have passed away.

Some material in our collections contains terms that reflect author’s views, or those of the period in which the item was written or recorded but may not be considered appropriate today. These views are not necessarily the views of the National Library of Australia. While the information may not reflect current understanding, it is provided in an historical context.

Aboriginal boys playing football
Aboriginal children playing football, Wudikapildiyerr outstation, Daly River, Northern Territory, 25 June 2010
Young Aboriginal women playing football
The Stronger Sisters playing football at the Tennant Creek football Grand Final, 2011

First Nations people participated in sports long before Australian Federation. Indigenous athletes have achieved elite level success across many sports including Australian Football, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Tennis, Boxing, Basketball, Cricket and Athletics. Their success and contributions inside and outside the sporting arenas have often been recognized by awarding of formal honours such as the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) or the Order of Australia (OAM), as well as recognition and respect being shown in other ways such as the renaming of a trophy, e.g. the Rugby Union Ella-Mobbs Trophy and naming of an Australian Football League (AFL) Round, the Sir Doug Nicholls Round.

There are resources available which can help you research First Nation people’s sporting achievements, experiences, and stories.

How do I find information on First Nations people and sport?

Start with the Library’s catalogue and enter some keywords to find titles, authors, or subjects.

  • If you get too many results, use the Narrow search options (at the right of the results page) to display only the items of interest. e.g. audio (oral histories) or manuscripts
  • If you need to widen your search, click on subject headings in an item’s catalogue record to find other material related to that subject.

Examples of subject searches you can try include:

The Library also holds a number of interviews with First Nations people as part of the Sport oral history project, some of which can be freely listened to online.  Try an advanced search in our catalogue to find a list of these interviews

Other items on specific sports or sports people can also be found by searching our catalogue. For example, you can try some of the following keywords as subject searches:

Aboriginal Australians - football

Aboriginal Australians - athletics

Aboriginal Australians - boxing

Selected works

Racism in sport

You can search our catalogue to find items which discuss racism in Australian sport.  Search with keywords or try the following subject searches:

Selected works

National Museum of Australia – Defining Moments

Includes hundreds of events, people and places of profound significance to the Australian people including the following:

Access to Library materials

If you are a registered reader, you can request items to read and photocopy in the reading rooms of the National Library of Australia.  

Registered readers can also search selected subscription databases via our eResources portal.

If you can't visit the Library, you can use the National Library's Copies Direct service to request copies and have them sent to you via mail or email. Please note there may be copyright restrictions when using this service.

You can also search Trove to find a library closer to you which has the item in their collection.

If there is no library near you with the item, you may be able to arrange an interlibrary loan through your local public or institutional library. Please ask staff at your local library for assistance with this.

Aboriginal boys football team photo
Murrin Bridge 6 stone 7s football team, New South Wales, July 1961

Not sure where to start?