Conversations with Aboriginal Knowledge: Rites of Passage

In this conversation, Tex Skuthorpe and Dr Arne Rubinstein will explore the rites of passage that provide a sense of place in community, sharing perspectives and experiences in teaching younger people as they transition into adult life.

Presented with The School of Life, this series explores the intersection of Aboriginal and western perspectives around the themes of cultural knowledge, growing up, and well-being. Through a series of three in-conversation sessions, between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australian thinkers, we draw out the common ground and points of distinction between two different perspectives of these important themes.



Tex Skuthorpe, an Aboriginal artist from Goodooga, north-western NSW, was privileged to be taught his people’s traditional culture by the Noonghaburra Elders from Noonghal country. Being the eldest boy of the Emu and Sand Goanna totems gave Tex the responsibility to teach and record Noonghaburra law. Currently, Tex works to close a generational divide in Indigenous communities through using technology to teach traditional stories to Indigenous youth and by working with young people to teach the older generations new technology. Tex’s work reflects an intimate, holistic and highly practical understanding of his country and his place within it as well as a deep sense of responsibility to use the knowledge with wisdom and respect.

Dr Arne Rubinstein is an expert on adolescent development, with 30 years’ experience as a doctor, counsellor, mentor, speaker and workshop facilitator. His programs and seminars are designed to support boys and girls to successfully make a safe, healthy transition from children to young adults, with a particular focus on creating coming-of-age rites of passage. In 2008, he was nominated for Australian of the Year for his groundbreaking work with youth.