Even today, despite all the measures and initiatives taken by the Government and agencies, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to face social exclusion. Cultural, economic and social systems play an essential role in the integration of a person into a community, but not in the case of Aboriginal people -- they are shut out from these three systems.
The need of the hour was something big that could preserve the Aboriginal culture and explicitly acknowledge the essence of human rights to these communities and families in Australia.
Enter: Aboriginal Inclusion Framework
It is an initiative that was developed for the Aboriginal communities and emphasises that the Aboriginal people should get consistent and accessible services as per their needs. The Secretaries’ Group on Aboriginal Affairs says that in order to engage with the communities, the Government and agencies must acknowledge and respect their culture and values. By doing so, it will also become easier to address the issues concerning ignorance and racism.
Also, throughout this blog, I have only used the term ‘Aboriginal’ which refers to both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Aboriginal people have specific needs. The Aboriginal Inclusion Framework enables the Government and agencies to fulfil them. This framework also helps them address systematic exclusion by providing them with tools to implement and review desired practices.
The most important focus is on shaping the way the departments engage and deliver services to the communities. Moreover, the framework encourages maximum Aboriginal participation in every corner of the policy designing and implementation process. This strengthens the inclusion of Aboriginal culture.
Better decision making and policy planning are possible when the views and preferences of the Aboriginal people are taken into consideration. Thus, the first area of action is the representation and participation of and engagement with the Aboriginal population. This will also boost service delivery across the organisation.
At the centre of all interactions and engagements, lies the cultural perspective of stakeholders. This includes not just the Government and agencies, but also employees, organisations, and welfare communities. A better response to the people of all cultures, ethnicities, and races is required. One of the positive outcomes of this response is useful in valuing their worth and dignity.
When engaging with the Aboriginals, the stakeholders should be careful when taking actions; otherwise, they might be neglected. This brings us to a duty of care which is different across a range of situations. All families and communities should be treated in a personalised way that can allow them to exercise the same rights as other fellow individuals.
To make informed decisions, one need quantitative and qualitative data. By focusing on evaluation and monitoring, the data is collected in a systematic way which further develops the knowledge base and provides improvements in policymaking and service delivery.
The Aboriginal Inclusion Framework also emphasises on accountability, reporting, and transparency. This is achieved when the organisations and employees clearly understand their responsibilities and roles. Moreover, a realisation of robust structure allows for alignment of policies with strategic priorities.
“Successful well-being is achieved when we can keep our children and youth connected to their culture and strengthen their identities.”
The Framework was created after consultation with numerous stakeholders and Aboriginal communities. It lays special attention to the children and youth and states that each of them has the right to be engrossed into their culture.
The right to culture allows them to make connections, relationships, and experiences which grants an ability to tackle and recover from most challenges. According to Section 19 of the Charter of Human Rights, Aboriginal children have special rights and can freely maintain their relationships with their environment and traditions.
“For them, it is imperative to nurture family networks, languages, dances, and more. It is the knowledge they pass on to their generations; it is about how they greet each other and stay bound together.”
Cultural safety thus becomes an integral part of the Aboriginal Inclusion Framework and signifies the importance of a safer environment. It is a place where they do not have to face assault threats or denial of their identity.
How can we create a culturally safe environment for the Aboriginal people? The first step is to consult and talk with them. It is crucial to find out who the registered Aboriginal party is in a specific area. Together, these people represent 1% of the total population in Australia, and with the projections made by the Government, this will rise by over 80000 people in 2021. Any organisation, no matter where it is located, at least one Aboriginal community will be living in that region. Plus, there is sufficient information about the local and regional Aboriginal population on various websites.
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