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  • Subject Name : Religious Education

Religious and Cultural Beliefs on Death of Aboriginals


Indigenous Australians make up 3 percent of Australia's population and have many diverse rites of death and burial activities that date back thousands of years. Aboriginal cultures may share similar values but cultural customs that vary greatly from one group to another (Funeral guide, 2015). The nursing staff must take care of all the people's beliefs irrespective of their communities. Also, the personal practice of the patient should not be carried by the nursing staff for disrespect.

Beliefs and Rituals Regarding the Death in Aboriginals

The cultural and beliefs distinctions mean that funeral customs may vary. The general concept is that the rites of Aboriginal death seek to ensure a peaceful passage of the spirit into another form of life. This is done by people to ensure that the spirit will not return and cause misfortune in the family. I have heard the term 'sorry company' used by Aboriginal people. The term refers to the traditions of burial and grieving for a community member 's death. Funerals and mourning, in Aboriginal culture, are very much a group practice a large gathering is observed.

The wider community's families, friends, and leaders should get together to grieve and comfort each other. There is a clear tradition among some Aboriginal communities not to speak a dead person's name, or to depict it in pictures. It is feared their spirit would be disrupted by doing so. This is why some Indigenous families won't have their loved one’s photos until they die. The aboriginals do not take the patient name who has died, instead, they use other names to refer the dead. Not all cultures adhere to this tradition, but it is still widely observed particularly in the Northern Territory.

As a nursing staff, it will be my first duty to identify the patient who is dead. I will inform the next kin of the patient by without mentioning the real name of the patient. Sometimes it is not appropriate to share the message with the immediate kin of the patient so I will decide according to the situation. From the Aboriginal community visiting the hospital I must find the member to be consulted about the health status of the patient and log this in the register.

Since it will be a critical news to share with the family. I will try to build a rapport early once I know the condition of the patient is critical (NSW Government, 2015). Also, I will try to find out the cultural protocols from family and relatives that need to be made by the staff. In the case of Aboriginals, I will take permission from the family before the Aboriginal Health Service can get involved. In Aboriginal culture not to pass away alone is critical for patients near to death (Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, 2019).

Therefore, I'm going to suggest and ask the next of kin or family member stays with the patient at the hospital. I'm also going to speak to the Aboriginal Health and Education Officer to arrange better facilities. The native traditions several visitors arrive at the hospital during Sorry Business period to visit the patient. So, as many people are anticipated, I'll maybe arrange a large and more spacious room for the patient (Queensland Government, 2020). Many people would have traveled for long distances I would try arranging eateries for them and ask the administration for flexible vising hours if possible.


I being the nurse of the patient who has passed away should take care of the patient family beliefs and traditions. I will make sure that my no action will offend the family of the patient. All rituals should be taken care of with the help of staff and family members of the patient.


Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavemen. (2019). Working with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Grief and Bereavement A Resource for Workers.

Funeral Guide. (2019). Aboriginal Funerals. 

NSW Government. (2015). Death and Dying in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture (Sorry Business). 

Queensland Government. (2020). Sorry Business and funerals. 

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