INSIGHTS

INSIGHTS INTRODUCTION

In Australia, it is crucial that Aboriginal People and their Communities are involved in matters that affect them. This means that Governments; Aboriginal Corporations; Corporate Businesses; and Others, that are focused on delivering services; programs; initiatives; and opportunities to Aboriginal People, must:

(1) Consult & Engage with Aboriginal People and Communities on the Ground;

(2) Partner with Aboriginal People and Organisations in the Communities; AND

(3) Work with Aboriginal People and Organisations to Empower the Communities from within.

In 1967, all Aboriginal People became Australian citizens. This was the first step in our history towards equality. Since then, Aboriginal people have become the most disadvantaged group of Australians in

this country. We die at least 10 years earlier than other Australians.

In 1992, the High Court of Australia recognised that Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples held laws and customs that gave them rights and interests to Australia that existed prior to British Settlement. This historic decision was the Mabo No. 2 decision. The Federal Government then introduced the Native Title Act 1993. Since then, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Peoples have sought to be recognised by the Australian Government and to get a “seat at the table” on matters that affect their traditional lands. It is through Native Title that Australia started learning about the many separate Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Groups and cultures that exist here.

To be Australian, is to recognise and respect that this country’s identity cannot be separated from its rich Aboriginal cultures and heritage. Every Australian should be proud of our diverse and resilient Aboriginal cultures. Aboriginal cultures and heritage IS Australian culture and heritage and it is time that all Australians were offered opportunities to learn more about their country’s identity.

In 2017, Aboriginal People and their Communities WANT to be empowered to improve their health and wellbeing; educational outcomes; and community capacities.

CULTURE

In Australia, we are lucky to have over 200 hundred Aboriginal cultures, each having their own lands or “country”. Many cultures have their own distinct language; laws; and customs and some cultures form part of a more regional society of common laws and customs. There are some universal laws that are respected and followed by all cultures, including:

1) Decisions related to land must be made by the traditional owners of that land.
2) Traditional owners must speak for themselves.
3) 
Elders must be recognised and respected.
4) 
We must respect our cultural laws above other laws.
5) Aboriginal people not from a specific area must not get involved in issues of that area unless asked by the traditional owners.

Cultural learning is a life-learning journey. The cultural insights offered through Aboriginal
Insights will NOT teach you about ALL Aboriginal cultures. It will:

• Open your mind to appreciating the complexity of the  Aboriginal Cultural World and give you the confidence to seek further learning of specific Aboriginal cultures;

• Offer the Cultural Foundations you need to begin your cultural learning journey;

• Offer insights on how to consult and engage with Aboriginal people and Communities;

• Share Aboriginal Voices and aspects of specific cultures to build your cultural learning;

• Promote Traditional Owner specific training and learning;

• Identify and promote awareness of issues affecting Aboriginal people and Communities; AND

• Offer learning specific to areas such as Health; Education; and Community.

HEALTH

The health of Aboriginal Australians is the worst in Australia. Nationally, Aboriginal people die 10 years earlier than other Australians. This is known as the “Life Expectancy Gap” and the Federal Government initiative aimed at addressing this is known as “Closing the Gap” (CTG). The CTG targets related to health includes:

      1. CLOSE THE GAP in life expectancy within a generation (by 2031).

      2. HALVE THE GAP in Child Mortality by 2018.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) are the key to Closing the Gap. ACCHOs must lead the way in health service delivery on the ground in Aboriginal communities through sufficient funding and resources from Government.

*Jolleen Hicks is a current Member & Director (2013 – present) of Mawarnkarra Health Service Limited, an ACCHO based in Roebourne, Western Australia.

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EDUCATION

 The key to confidently and successfully walking in the Mainstream World is education and one of the most important gifts a parent can give to their child, is an education through ensuring that:

(1) Your child begins his/her education with early childhood education;
(2) Your child regularly attends school;
(3) Your child participates in school; and
(4) Your child completes Year 12.

What education offers our children is “opportunities” – the opportunity to choose their life. An education offers further education opportunities; training opportunities; direct employment opportunities; and career development opportunities. With an education, any child can pursue a professional career.

The CTG targets related to education include:

1) 95% of all Indigenous four-year olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025.
2) CLOSE THE GAP in school attendance by the end of 2018.
3) HALVE THE GAP in reading and numeracy for Indigenous students by 2018.
4) HALVE THE GAP for Indigenous Australians in Year 12 attainment or equivalent attainment rates by 2020


*Jolleen Hicks is a current Board Member (2008 – present) of the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundations Inc. a not for profit organisations focused on improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander students (primary & secondary education).

More Reference Articles:

COMMUNITY

Aboriginal people mostly live in or near their traditional lands in diverse and complex communities made up of many cultures. The reasons why Aboriginal families might live in a particular community also include:

• Historical removal (removed from their traditional lands to the community they now live in);

• Marriage (marry into a family from a particular community);

• Family (move to live near family who have moved to the community);

• Employment Opportunities;

• Education Opportunities; OR

• Family or Cultural Obligations.

These many reasons result in many cultures having to live together, each with their own separate laws and customs, but always with respect towards the traditional owners of the land that they reside on. In regional and remote areas, these reasons can mean that many separate and distinct Aboriginal languages are spoken.

An Aboriginal Community in northern WA is uniquely different to an Aboriginal Community in southern WA, or southern QLD. This is one of the most MISUNDERSTOOD realities that non-Aboriginal people hold.

Stereotypes and assumptions place ALL Aboriginal peoples together as ONE as if they have the same cultures and customs. But, we are many separate and distinct cultures of Aboriginal people and knowing who are actually a part of a specific community is important with respect to the delivery of core services such as health and education. Many hundreds of millions of Australian tax payer funds are spent on the delivery of services directly to Aboriginal communities to achieve success in relation to “Closing the Gap”. A few very important lessons must be understood in order to successfully close the gap in each community. These are:

1) Aboriginal people must be respectfully consulted and engaged with on matters that affect them;

2) Aboriginal people must be involved in the services that target them;

3) Aboriginal organisations must be partners with Government and industry to Close the Gap.