Increasing connectivity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Shellie Morris 

Empowering and building capacity in communities needs to start at the grassroots. There is a great fatigue I see in communities from people who have been working on the ground for many years and a great shock for those who are just being welcomed into a community. Technological advances are integral to bridging the geographical gap for community members and workers in communities. Technological advances are allowing people to continue to live on country, to care for country and to raise families with their rightful continuation of connection. The challenge, I see, having worked in communities will be gaining trust and acceptance of these advances without the personal relationships that are held so highly in community. The way you introduce and integrate these programs, I think, will need to continue to be done with inclusion and thoughtfulness.  When communities feel their voice has been heard that empowers others in the communities to buy in to the success of these initiatives and I believe that is where change will be achieved.



One of Australia’s favourite and celebrated female vocalists, Shellie Morris has spent the past 25 years creating and engaging in music as a healing tool.

She imparts the importance of having a voice and that each individual is important.

While she has been in the spotlight over the years for her involvement with Black Arm Band, Deadly awards, ARIA nominations, Music Australia award, NAIDOC Award, G.R. Burarrawanga Memorial Award and Australian of the Year award; by and large, she works on the ground empowering and gently effecting change.

Shellie creates music and sings in around 17 Aboriginal languages, many considered “sleeping”.

Since discovering her Wardaman and Yanyuwa roots, she has tirelessly worked to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, especially in the Northern Territory.

She is the 2014 NT Australian of the Year, the 2014 NAIDOC National Artist of the Year, a multi Deadly Award winner and a driving force of the acclaimed album Ngambala Wiji li-Wunungu and the internationally award-winning musical documentary Prison Songs.

The documentary has won film and humanitarian awards around the world and is nominated for five AACTA awards (including best sound and score), ATOM Awards – Best Indigenous Resource and a Walkley Documentary Award.

I’ve worked in more than 70 communities in my career, I’ve learnt to sing in more than 17 Aboriginal languages – many of which are considered “sleeping” or close to extinction. First Nations cultures have always used the arts as the main way of communicating over the ages, as an education tool for kids’ learning, lore, law, inter-tribal communication and imparting social mores. I’m continuing this in a contemporary way.