MHCC Logo

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Protocols and Resources

The Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) recognises the unique status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as the First Australians. We acknowledge the special relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have with their traditional lands and waters, as well as their unique history and diverse culture, customs and circumstances.

MHCC present this Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Protocols and Resources as a means of ensuring safety and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in all our undertakings. MHCC developed this resource for its own internal use as part of its two-year Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).  The contents areas were developed in consultation with MHCC's RAP Advisory Group.

MHCC policies and procedures underpinned by recovery and trauma-informed principles guide all organisational activities and practices. As the peak body we seek to implement these core values at every level of engagement with staff, members and the sector utilising a recovery oriented approach that respects diversity in all its configurations. Looking forward, MHCC's policies will, where appropriate, align with these protocols.

MHCC brings together this material from numerous resources freely available on the internet. We have referenced them accordingly where utilised below. Thereafter they are listed alphabetically in the References section. We acknowledge those resources and authors cited, and thank the organisations that have made them available for all to use.

Purpose

These cultural protocols provide guidance for MHCC staff and members to inform their work and practices. The main objective is to ensure that they show respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural beliefs and practices in all their endeavours.

MHCC encourage members to use these protocols and practices in their undertakings.


Click the below headings for further information;

What are Cultural Protocols? [1]

"Cultural protocols refer to principles and practices that guide the behaviour of a cultural group. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples these protocols include historic and current customs, practices, traditional lore and codes that are part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural observances. Protocols are present in all cultures and are an important part of ensuring people interact and conduct their behaviour in an appropriate manner." [2]

Observations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural protocols illustrate the respect for the history, culture and diversity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. In addition to this, it demonstrates that the cultural protocols of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community are just as valued and equally valid to any other people's cultural protocols.

Why do we need Protocols? [3]

Since colonisation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have borne the brunt of extreme prejudice, discrimination and misunderstanding and their interests, rights and concerns have often been dismissed or ignored. The introduction of cultural protocols represents an important step towards understanding, respecting and representing Indigenous world-views, encouraging culturally appropriate working practices and valuing the cultural diversity that enriches, motivates and drives an organisation forward.

MHCC's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural protocols recognise the diverse cultures and traditions that make up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and are based on recognition, consultation and respect. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are complex, dynamic and evolving and therefore protocols may change according to the particular group or community in question, and consultation with a particular group may need to be undertaken when developing a service or program. MHCC recognises that improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will only be achieved when effective and respectful partnerships are established with them, their communities and their organisations.

Principles

These protocols give practical expression to a fundamental human rights principle that: "Indigenous peoples have a right to own and control their Indigenous cultural and intellectual property"[4] that is, they have a right to protect their Indigenous heritage.[5]

The following values and principles provide a framework for implementing MHCC's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural protocols:

1. Respect [6]

The rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to own and control their cultural heritage, and their rights and interests in how they are portrayed (in images, text or the like), must at all times be respected and protected.

Proper consultation processes with appropriate cultural authorities should always be followed and approvals and permissions sought accordingly. Respect the communal nature of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social structures, timeframes and decision-making processes: a group may have to wait for the "right" people to be present, and meetings may need to be scheduled around cultural obligations or travel considerations (especially in remote locations). It is important to understand that the consultation process may be lengthy as each community needs time to consider and consult.

2. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Control [7]

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be consulted and involved in all decisions affecting their cultural heritage and in particular, on the ways in which their history, community, stories and interviews, lives and families and cultural and intellectual property are represented and used.

3. Interpretation and Integrity [8]

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be recognised as the primary guardians and interpreters of their cultures. Representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures should reflect their cultural values and respect their customary laws.[9]

When writing about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues or choosing images to accompany text, it is important to consider how the work affects the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who are subjects of the story.

Before publishing, ensure the material does not depict or expose confidential, personal and/or sensitive information or reinforce negative stereotypes. Where possible ensure the material empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and reflects their cultural identity.

Permission must be sought from the person who owns the story and any potential issues discussed with them prior to publishing.

4. Secrecy and confidentiality[10]

Some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander material is unsuitable for public scrutiny.

Secret and Sacred Material

"Indigenous people have the right to keep secret their sacred and ritual knowledge in accordance with their customary laws."[11] Secret and sacred material refers to information that is restricted under customary law and so unsuitable for publication.

Personal privacy

Privacy and confidentiality concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples' personal affairs should also be respected. Consult with Elders and/or other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in authority to identify any sensitive, sacred or religious issues that might prevent use of the material. Some types of personal information may require special attention.

Gender

Some images and knowledge may be gender-specific and may only be seen by initiated men and women. Gender-based works may require the publisher to follow special communication procedures which should be discussed with the community prior to publication.

Representation of deceased people

In many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the reproduction of a deceased person's name and image is offensive to cultural beliefs. Consult with the deceased's family or community so that the appropriate protocols are observed.[12]

Remove any references to deceased people from the public arena (e.g. websites, photographic databases, publications, community service announcements, etc.) as soon as you are alerted to their passing.

If you wish to use the name, image or voice of a deceased person, you must seek permission in writing. Include reference to the permission having been granted for this particular use in a highly prominent position.

5. Attribution[13]

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be given proper credit or appropriate acknowledgement for their achievements, contributions and roles in the development of media stories and/or use of cultural material.

Encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. In story-gathering projects and in interviewing, it is important to select Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for comment on their issues rather than relying solely on self-appointed non-Aboriginal spokespeople, as worldviews can differ.

When preparing acknowledgements and attributions, ask informants how they want to be described or identified. Some people may wish to be known by their clan group or by their place of origin and/or occupation – as this will ensure accuracy for the purposes of establishing an interviewee's authority to speak and avoid stereotyping.

6. Sharing of Benefits[14]

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have the right to share in the benefits from use of their culture, especially where it is being commercially applied.

Consider how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples can be included in your work, for example, where possible:

  • engage with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations in the area you are working, provide opportunities for them to meaningfully participate and acknowledge their contribution
  • employ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultants
  • disseminate information and research to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, provide copies of images or published works to the people involved
  • reimburse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants for the contributions they have made.

7. Legal Recognition and Protection[15]

Where appropriate the organisation supports the development and implementation of Australian laws and policies that respect and protect Indigenous rights to cultural and intellectual property, by engaging in and supporting their partners' advocacy and lobbying efforts (e.g. Constitutional Recognition).

Cultural Respect [16]

Cultural Respect is the:

"Recognition, protection and continued advancement of the inherent rights, cultures and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples." [17]

Acquaint yourself with the local history of the area. This is a good beginning to develop cultural respect and to follow cultural protocol of the local area and the Indigenous community. It is also helpful to have knowledge of the history of the Aboriginal and the Torres Strait Islander flags and to acknowledge the traditional custodians prior to all formal events.

In the context of health services Cultural Respect is about shared respect. Cultural Respect is achieved when the health system is a safe environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and where cultural differences are respected. It is a commitment to the principle that the construct and provision of services offered by the Australian health care system will not wittingly compromise the legitimate cultural rights, practices, values and expectations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The goal of Cultural Respect is to uphold the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to maintain, protect and develop their culture and achieve equitable health outcomes.[18]

Acknowledgment of Country [19]

If the Traditional custodians are not available to conduct 'Welcome to Country', it is appropriate for an 'Acknowledgement of Country' to be conducted. This can be done by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples would be mindful to identify their people and country and to pay respects to the Traditional Custodians.

What to say

The following is an example of what could be said when acknowledging Traditional Custodians.

"I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians on whose land this meeting takes place."

"I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of this land and pay my respects to their Elders past and present."

If you know who the Traditional Custodians are you can name them, however, check that your pronunciation of the name is correct.

Why?

Acknowledging Traditional Custodians develops a relationship with the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community members in attendance. This is a sign that you value their presence and pay respect to the traditional history and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

When?

  • Official functions and activities (e.g. conferences, forums, networking events, training activities, presentations and seminars etc.)
  • Meetings held by the organisation, or various departments, teams coming together (e.g. Advisory and Reference group meetings, consultations etc.).
  • At the beginning of presenting resource materials for online learning, webinars etc.
  • When there are special guests, visiting scholars, and hosting of events.

Welcome to Country [20]

'Welcome to Country' should be conducted at official events and may be carried out only by the Traditional Custodians of the land on which the meeting takes place. Welcome to Country is the process to welcome visitors to the land which is recognised as Aboriginal land. If the Traditional Custodians cannot perform Welcome to Country, then the next step is to ask another Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person to perform 'Acknowledgement of Country'.[21]

Formal Demonstration of Respect [22]

MHCC affirms the significant place and identity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as First Australians, recognises their culture, history and diversity, and supports all Australians to achieve their potential on a basis of equity and respect. An important aspect of this recognition is the acknowledgement of Traditional Owners and Elders at all MHCC's events and activities.

Protocol Description When to use
Welcome to Country

Traditional welcoming ceremonies are performed

at the beginning of a forum by an Elder or appropriate member of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community to welcome people who are visiting and/or meeting on their traditional land.

These ceremonies vary from speeches of welcome to traditional dance and smoking ceremonies.
Traditional Welcomes should be incorporated into the opening of major internal or public events, meetings, forums and functions.
Acknowledging Traditional Owners Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners can occur with or without a Welcome to Country and/or when a smaller or less formal gathering is taking place. Traditional Owners should be acknowledged by the first speaker at any significant organisational forums with a range of internal and external stakeholders present as a mark of respect for the owners of the land on which the event is taking place.
Subsequent speakers may also choose to acknowledge Traditional Owners.
Acknowledging Elders The first speaker at a forum recognises and pays respect to Elders past and present. Forums and other major events.
Acknowledging local sites of significance The first speaker at a forum recognises cultural or historical sites of significance in the vicinity of the meeting. When an event is held near a significant site.

Resource: adapted from Oxfam Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Protocols, p.11 [Accessed November 2016] Available: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/raphub/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/respect-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-protocols-oxfam-australia.pdf

Consulting with Indigenous communities [23]

  • It is important to establish who should be consulted within a particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
  • Usually, the Elder's group is the first point of contact on matters of a cultural nature, but more specific issues may be clarified by an incorporated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation with carriage of that service.
  • It is best to phone ahead to ensure that the appropriate people are available and feel comfortable enough to engage with individual or group representation.
  • Be aware that some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have an entry permit system.
  • If there are no Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations to approach, make contact with the town council, hospital, police station, and court house. Staff there will suggest the contact person for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander business.
  • In the main, English is the preferred medium of communication. Be aware not to sound patronising by assuming a broken English or deliberately slower speech pattern when in dialogue with representatives of the local Indigenous community.
  • Formation of relationships may take time. Initial meetings are only a starting point. Keep the lines of communication open, both orally and in writing, and be patient in building the confidence of the local Indigenous community. If you make a commitment to follow-up on an issue, ensure that you do, and provide feedback. This will assist in building relationships.

Respecting Culture and Heritage: Copyright, Cultural Ownership and Intellectual Property Rights [24]

According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, copyright is a legal term describing rights given to creators for their literary and artistic works. Intellectual property laws govern the use, production and dissemination of original artistic works. Copyright is designed to prevent the unauthorised use by others of such works.

In Australia, copyright law is set out in the Copyright Act 1968. The Copyright Act is federal legislation and as such applies throughout Australia. The works covered by copyright include novels, poems, plays, reference works, newspapers, computer programs, databases, films, musical compositions and choreography, paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture, architecture, advertisements, maps and technical drawings.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander intellectual property also consists of the intangible ideas and knowledge associated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artistic works and designs and other forms of cultural expression such as Indigenous music, dance, song and story.

Copyright and the protection of intellectual property are key issues to be aware of when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are the custodians of their culture and have the right to own and control their cultural heritage. Unfortunately, the cultural and intellectual property rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are not always recognised or appropriately respected and our existing laws provides limited recognition of and protection for these rights.

There are no special provisions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander works in the Copyright Act and no recognition of customary or traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander laws. Copyright law applies to Indigenous artistic works in the same way as it applies to other artistic works.

Consequently:

  • As copyright in an artistic work usually lasts for the life of the artist plus 70 years, there is no copyright protection for ancient Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks such as rock art;
  • Because copyright does not protect ideas, methods, or styles, it does not prevent others artists using styles belonging to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities such as dot painting or cross hatching;
  • Because copyright law applies only to works which have been "recorded" in some way, it does not protect aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture which have never been written down such as some music or stories; and
  • Under the Copyright Act there is an obligation only to get permission from a copyright owner and not from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community whose customary laws apply to the use of a work.

When working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people it is imperative that "Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property" (ICIP) rights and copyright are observed and safeguarded in relation to all of the following:

  • Literary, performing and artistic works (including songs, music, dances, stories, ceremonies, symbols and designs);
  • Languages;
  • Scientific, agricultural, technical and ecological knowledge;
  • Spiritual knowledge;
  • All items of moveable cultural heritage;
  • Indigenous ancestral remains and Indigenous human genetic material;
  • Immovable cultural property (including sacred and historically significant sites and burial grounds); and
  • Documentation of Indigenous peoples' heritage in archives, film, photographs, videotape or audiotape and all forms of media.

Permission should be obtained from the traditional owners before using any material which relates to their cultural heritage. They should be consulted on how the community will be attributed and given the opportunity to approve the way in which the material is used.

Some Guidelines for Publishing Material [25]

Terminology

  • Most First Australians prefer the terms Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person or peoples; "Aborigine/s" can have negative connotations.
  • The term "Aboriginal" does not include Torres Strait Islander people, and reference should be made to both if applicable.
  • Never abbreviate the term "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander" as this may be offensive.
  • Always use a capital for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Indigenous and Elder. The word "Aboriginal" refers to an Indigenous person from any part of the world and not to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia.
  • "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people" is a collective name for the original people of Australia and their descendants. Use "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples" in the context of a nation; formal category or to emphasise the diversity of languages, communities, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs. Both are acceptable depending on context.
  • "First Australians" is a collective name for the original people of Australia and their descendants, and can be used to emphasise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples lived on this continent prior to European colonisation.
  • Because "Indigenous" is not specific, some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel the term should be avoided. Preference should be given to the term "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander" as an adjective rather than "Indigenous" as this more accurately reflects their cultural heritage.

Permissions [26]

There are no set rules for interacting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. Different communities have their own protocols which should be followed, and the approach you take will often depend upon a community's location - whether urban, rural or remote. Every community is unique, but some general guidelines are:

  • Seek permission from the relevant local council or authority to enter a community.
  • It is considered courteous and respectful to send an initial letter of intent, stating the purpose of your visit.
  • Check with the relevant Land Council as to whether a permit is required to enter Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands.
  • Always seek permission before taking any pictures and for the use of images.
  • In remote locations, remember that English is often a second, third, fourth or fifth language. If necessary, use an interpreter, keep technical terms to a minimum, speak slowly, do not mimic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander speech patterns and try to learn a few words of the local language to improve relations and credibility within the community.
  • An indirect communication style is common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, where being direct is seen as confrontational. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Peoples may thus delay expressing a firm opinion. Instead, they may listen to others before offering their own view and if it conflicts with others, will often understate it.
  • Be sensitive of non-verbal cues. For instance, silence may mean that people are listening, remaining non-committal or waiting for community support.
  • Body language is as important in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as it is elsewhere, and includes: lowering your eyes and avoiding eye contact with older people or authority figures; not pointing when giving directions; avoiding body contact such as friendly touching or jostling or touching the upper torso or arm; shaking hands only if initiated by the other party.
  • Dress appropriately and modestly; in many communities it is a sign of respect to cover the shoulders; it is always inappropriate to wear short dresses or revealing shorts.
  • "Why?" is virtually absent from conversations in remote Australian communities and observation is used instead, as a learning device, with people given information when they are deemed ready for it.
  • Be aware that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Peoples kinship systems are complex and will impact on how you can interact with members of a community. For instance, avoidance relationships dictate that a son-in-law cannot be in his mother-in-law's presence or a brother cannot use his sister's name.
  • "Women's business" and "men's business" relates to gender-specific knowledge and practices (specifically health, well-being and religious matters) that cannot be known or observed by the opposite sex. It is a mark of cultural respect not to discuss traditionally female issues ("women's business") in the presence of men and vice versa.
  • Be aware that community members may prefer to deal with people of their own gender. As a mark of respect your initial approach should be to a person of the same gender.
  • Choosing the right form of address is important in any relationship, so ask Aboriginal and Torres Strait Peoples how they want to be acknowledged.
  • Honour the importance of Elders; recognised Elders are highly respected people within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Be aware that there are many demands placed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations which represent and deliver services to some of the most disadvantaged clients and communities in Australia. Organisations may be under funded and have limited administrative and management resources.
  • There are also many pressures on those who work in or represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and perceived conflicts of interest may arise. Family and community are important in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Peoples' life and workers are often expected to help their family and community before others. This leads to stress for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees when they are required to walk a fine line between meeting the expectations of their community and the legal requirements of their employment.
  • Reflecting their disadvantage, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities experience high death rates, including suicides. This as a heavy load for communities to bear. It is expected that all kin, including extended family, will attend the rites associated with death. After a death, some communities will shut down for "sorry business" despite previous arrangements that may have been made for your visit. For this reason, it is advisable to contact communities immediately prior to your arrival.

Engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities [27]

Hunt (2013) conducted three studies of the ways in which non-government organisations that work in international development engage with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partner organisations in undertaking development projects in Australia.[28] From these studies, the key things that supported the success of partnerships were:
  • long time frames for the partnerships, which enabled approaches to be developed that worked and that built Indigenous staff capacity for program management
  • willingness to share risks and to foster innovation and flexibility (including flexibility in relation to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation's use of the funding provided)
  • strong, respectful and honest personal relationships between staff of the relevant organisations
  • strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership
  • shared vision, basic principles and foundations, especially respect for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients of the programs
  • partnerships based on respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander control and decision making and on priorities set by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; responsiveness to their needs and local decision making within a policy framework of human rights and respect for self determination
  • building on culture, history, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aspirations and understandings, and the detailed knowledge of the community within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation
  • using a strengths-based development approach, which built on and helped to develop the capacities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and organisations
  • capacity development support and training that was targeted to (and specific to) the needs of the organisation and its key staff, and that provided relevant, recognised qualifications in local settings
  • linkages developed with other service providers.

Guidelines for engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples [29]

The guidelines for engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples communities specifically include:

A Human Rights-Based Approach to Development

  • All policies and programs relating to Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples and communities must be based on the principles of non-discrimination and equality, which recognise the cultural distinctiveness and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples have the right to full and effective participation in decisions which directly or indirectly affect their lives;
  • Such participation shall be based on the principle of free, prior and informed consent, which includes governments and the private sector providing information that is accurate, accessible, and in a language the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples can understand;
  • Mechanisms should exist for parties to resolve disputes, including access to independent systems of arbitration and conflict resolution.

Mechanisms for representation and engagement

  • Establish transparent and accountable frameworks for engagement, consultation and negotiation with indigenous peoples and communities;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples and communities have the right to choose their representatives and the right to specify the decision making structures through which they engage with other sectors of society;
  • Design, negotiation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation
  • Frameworks for engagement should allow for the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in the design, negotiation, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and assessment of outcomes;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples and communities should be invited to participate in identifying and prioritising objectives, as well as in establishing targets and benchmarks (in the short and long term);
  • There should be accurate and appropriate reporting on progress in addressing agreed outcomes, with adequate data collection and disaggregation;
  • In engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples and communities, adopt a long term approach to planning and funding that focuses on achieving sustainable outcomes and which is responsive to the human rights and changing needs and aspirations of indigenous communities.

Capacity-building

  • Support efforts to build the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples and communities, including in the area of human rights so that they may participate equally and meaningfully in the planning, design, negotiation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, programs and projects that affect them;
  • Increase the organisations' knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Islander Peoples and communities and awareness of the human rights based approach to development so that the organisation is able to effectively engage with these communities.

Historical Information and Key Dates [30]

What are some of the key historical events for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities?

Date Event Description
1967  Constitutional amendment referendum The Commonwealth Government acquired power to legislate for Aboriginal Australians and allowed for their inclusion in the census.
1971

The Aboriginal flag first flown

Designed by Harold Joseph Thomas, A Luritja man from Central Australia, the Aboriginal flag was first flown in Adelaide on National Aborigines Day, 12 July.
1972

Self-determination introduced into government policy

The Department of Aboriginal Affairs was established, and the Whitlam Government introduced the policy of self-determination.
1975

Racial Discrimination Act

On 11 June the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act came into effect.
1985 Uluru handed back Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) was handed back to the traditional owners.
1989 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission was established by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act 1989 and began operations on 5 March 1990.
1992 Native title (Mabo) In 1992, the High Court decision on Native title (Mabo) overturned the concept of 'terra nullius' (that land belonged to no one at the time of European invasion) and established that Native title can exist over particular kinds of land. This led to the establishment of the Native Title Act 1993.
1992 Torres Strait Islander Flag Bernard Namok of Thursday Island designed the Torres Strait Islander flag.
1997 Bringing Them Home The Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families, Bringing Them Home, was released. In 1999, the Federal Government issued a statement of sincere regret over the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families.
1998 26 May, National Sorry Day The first National Sorry Day was held one year after the tabling of the Bringing Them Home report which recommended that a National Sorry Day be declared.
2005 Abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission On 16 March Parliament passed the ATSIC Amendment Bill, repealing provisions of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act 1989 (Commonwealth) and thereby abolishing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and its structures from 30 June 2005. vii

What key dates are significant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities?

Date Significance
26 January
Survival Day
Traditional Welcomes should be incorporated into the opening of major internal or public events, meetings, forums and functions.

26 May – 3 June
National Reconciliation Week

This week begins with National Sorry Day on 26 May and ends with Mabo Day on 3 June.

26 May
National Sorry Day

This day marks the anniversary of the 1997 tabling of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families, Bringing Them Home (April 1997)

3 June
Mabo Day

This day commemorates the anniversary of the 1992 High Court decision in the case brought by Eddie Mabo and others, which recognised the existence in Australia of Native title rights.

First full week of July
NAIDOC Week

The first Sunday of July sees the beginning of a week dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people to celebrate NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Day Observance Committee) Week. It is a celebration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people of their survival. It is also a time for all Australians to celebrate the unique contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditions and cultures and to bring issues of concern to the attention of governments and the broader community.

August
National Aboriginal and Islander Children's Day

This day was first observed in 1988 and each year it has a special theme. viii

November
Ngan Girra Festival

Ngan Girra means 'gathering' and this local event celebrates the heritage of Mungabareena Reserve on the banks of the Murray River as a meeting place.

Key organisations and Resources

Australian Indigenous Health InfoNet Provides a diversity of resources and information including publications about a range of programs, projects and research. Available at: www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board, Australia Council Ph: 9215 9000 Fax: 9215 9061 Toll Free: 1800 555 677 e: mail@australiacouncil.gov.au w: www.australiacouncil.gov.au

Mainstream organisations providing advice or information about copyright and the protection of intellectual property rights include:

Arts Law Centre of Australia www.artslaw.com.au

Copyright Council www.copyright.org.au

World Intellectual Property Organisation www.wipo.int

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet (2017). Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2016. Australian Indigenous Health InfoNet

This Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status provides information about: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations; the context of Indigenous health; various measures of population health status; selected health conditions; and health risk and protective factors. Available: http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/health-facts/overviews

Creative Spirits. Get Aboriginal Culture; Find resources to support you Available: https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/aboriginal-calendar#toc0

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Authors: Dudgeon P Milroy Helen & Walker R 2014, Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice - 2nd edition, (Australia)Government of Australia

First Australians Documentary Series

First Australians chronicles the birth of contemporary Australia from the perspective of its first people over seven episodes. Available: http://www.sbs.com.au/firstaustralians

Reconciliation Australia Old Parliament House, King George Terrace, Parkes ACT, PO Box 4773, Kingston ACT 2604

T 02 6273 9200 F 02 6273 9201 e: enquiries@reconciliation.org.au w: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/resources/

NSW Office Premier and Cabinet, Aboriginal Engagement Strategies, All documents summarised can be downloaded for use from http://www.hsnet.nsw.gov.au/group_home.aspx?grpID=803 or from the original website listed against each summary. HSNet is a NSW government website that is free to join.

NSW Organisations – Available: http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/states-territories-home/nsw/organisations

References

Aboriginal Flag - Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Aboriginal_Flag

Australian Human Rights Commission 2005, Partnerships between Indigenous Peoples, governments and civil society, [Accessed November 2016] Available: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-social-justice/publications/partnerships-between

Australian Health Minister's Advisory Council, Cultural Respect Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Islander Health 2004 – 2009, Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council. Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Working Party, [Accessed: November 2016] Available: http://iaha.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/000211_culturalrespectframework.pdf

City of Sydney 2012, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols, Accessed [November 2016], Available: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/125020/ATSIProtocols.pdf

Department of Education and Communities, Office of Communities, Aboriginal Affairs, Aboriginal Cultural Protocols and Practices Policy: http://www.daa.nsw.gov.au/policies/policyreeperformance.html

04 Dovetail, 2014, Learning from Each Other: Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Young People youth alcohol and drug good practice guide, Encompass Family and Community Pty Ltd, Brisbane, Dovetail. Available: http://www.dovetail.org.au/media/98715/guide%2004%20learning%20from%20each%20other.pdf

Hunt J 2013, Resource sheet no. 23 produced for the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, AIHW, [Accessed November 2016] Available: http://www.aihw.gov.au/uploadedFiles/ClosingTheGap/Content/Publications/2013/ctgc-rs23.pdf

Janke T 1998, Our Culture, Our Future: Report on Australian Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights, prepared for Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, (1998). http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-55164

Janke J 2002, Writing Cultures: Protocols for Producing Indigenous Australian Literature, Commonwealth of Australia.

Message Stick, Cultural Protocols for Indigenous Reporting in the Media, Australian

Broadcasting Commission.

Oxfam Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Protocols [Accessed November 2016] Available: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/raphub/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/respect-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-protocols-oxfam-australia.pdf

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners 2012, An introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health cultural protocols and perspectives, Accessed[ November 2016] Available: http://www.racgp.org.au/download/Documents/AHU/2012culturalprotocols.pdf

Torres Strait Island Flag - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torres_Strait_Islander_Flag

USQ Australia 2016, Learning and Teaching Support, Information for staff, [Accessed November 2016]

[1] Blue Mountains City Council's Aboriginal Cultural Protocols [Accessed: November 2016] Available: http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0ahUKEwiekKvnnInQAhXCk5QKHZdgDIIQFgggMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bmcc.nsw.gov.au%2Fdownload.cfm%3Ff%3D85BCAA90-FB1C-CE0E-8B01CA70D211BD17&usg=AFQjCNHO59Qp1Pd2qzSWGnJvXi0POO-2QQ

[2] Ibid

[3] Oxfam Australia [Accessed November 2016] Available: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/raphub/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/respect-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-protocols-oxfam-australia.pdf

[4] Janke T 1998, Our Culture, Our Future: Report on Australian Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights, prepared for Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, (1998). http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-55164

[5] Oxfam Australia [Accessed November 2016] Available: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/raphub/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/respect-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-protocols-oxfam-australia.pdf

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid

[9] Janke J 2002, Writing Cultures: Protocols for Producing Indigenous Australian Literature, , Commonwealth of Australia 2002

[10] Oxfam Australia [Accessed November 2016] Available: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/raphub/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/respect-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-protocols-oxfam-australia.pdf

[11] Indigenous cultural and intellectual property workshop, Oxfam Australia, presented by Terri Janke, Nov 2006

[12] Janke J 2002, Writing Cultures: Protocols for Producing Indigenous Australian Literature, , Commonwealth of Australia 2002.

[13] Oxfam Australia [Accessed November 2016] Available: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/raphub/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/respect-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-protocols-oxfam-australia.pdf

[14] Ibid

[15] Ibid

[16] USQ Australia 2016, Learning and Teaching Support, Information for staff, [Accessed November 2016] Available: https://www.usq.edu.au/

[17] Australian Health Minister's Advisory Council, Cultural Respect Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Islander Health 2004 – 2009, Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council. Standing Committee on Aboriginal

and Torres Strait Islander Health Working Party, [Accessed: November 2016] Available: http://iaha.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/000211_culturalrespectframework.pdf

[18] Ibid, and City of Sydney 2012, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols, Accessed [November 2016], Available: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/125020/ATSIProtocols.pdf

[19] USQ Australia 2016, Learning and Teaching Support, Information for staff, [Accessed November 2016] Available: https://www.usq.edu.au/

[20] Ibid

[21] Ibid.

[22] Oxfam Australia [Accessed November 2016] Available: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/raphub/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/respect-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-protocols-oxfam-australia.pdf

[23] USQ Australia 2016, Learning and Teaching Support, Information for staff, [Accessed November 2016] Available:https://www.usq.edu.au/

[24] City of Sydney 2012, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols, Accessed [November 2016], Available: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/125020/ATSIProtocols.pdf

[25] Oxfam Australia [Accessed November 2016] Available: https://www.reconciliation.org.au/raphub/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/respect-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-protocols-oxfam-australia.pdf

[26] Message Stick, Cultural Protocols for Indigenous Reporting in the Media, Australian Broadcasting Commission

[27] Hunt J 2013, Resource sheet no. 23 produced for the Closing the Gap Clearinghouse, AIHW, [Accessed November 2016] Available: http://www.aihw.gov.au/uploadedFiles/ClosingTheGap/Content/Publications/2013/ctgc-rs23.pdf

[28] Ibid.

[29] Australian Human Rights Commission 2005, Partnerships between Indigenous Peoples, governments and civil society, [Accessed November 2016] Available: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-social-justice/publications/partnerships-between

[30] Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation and Women's Health Goulburn North East, supported by Upper Hume Primary Care Partnership and Wodonga Regional Health Service. [Accessed November 2016] Available: http://www.whealth.com.au/mtww/historical_dates.html