Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the Indigenous people of Australia. They are not one group but comprise hundreds of groups that have their own distinct set of languages, histories and cultural traditions.
The United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples calls on states to obtain free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous people through their representative institutions before adopting legislative or administrative measures that would affect them. The Declaration provides an international framework of engagement best practice.
Agencies and engagement practitioners should work closely with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues, organisations and networks in order to design the most appropriate timelines and methods of engagement. ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples do not respond best to didactic or ‘stand and deliver’ modes of communication’. (Human Rights Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Engagement Toolkit, 2012). ‘Effective engagement is a sustained process that provides Indigenous people with the opportunity to actively participate in decision making from the earliest stage of defining the problem to be solved.’ (AIHW 2013)
Context is important to inform your approach, such as:
There are some excellent reference materials available to help inform your method selection and especially the principles that need to underpin your engagement approach. Engaging early, meeting on country, and respecting Aboriginal Community decision making processes are some common principles.
Other principles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement includes the following:
(Engaging with Indigenous Australia— exploring the conditions for effective relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities 2013. Closing the Gap)
Below are a number of useful resources to help you plan your engagement. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list. Please consult with the appropriate Aboriginal engagement resources before choosing your engagement methods. They aim to help you choose the most appropriate methods to use in partnership with Aboriginal communities to progress the issues.
|Nationwide||AHRC (Australian Human Rights Commission) 2010. The community guide to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Sydney: AHRC.
Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Engaging with Indigenous Australia—exploring the conditions for effective relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
|Tasmania||Further information on Aboriginal policies, programs, services and legislation can be found on the Office of Aboriginal Affairs .|
|Northern Territory||Northern Territory Government. (2015) Remote Engagement and Coordination Strategy.|
|Victoria||Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council. Helping the community respect and understand Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and Traditional Owner responsibilities.|
|Western Australia||ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission), Western Australian Department of Indigenous Affairs & Western Australian Department of the Premier and Cabinet 2005. Consulting citizens: engaging with Aboriginal Western Australians. Perth: Western Australian Department of Indigenous Affairs.|
|Queensland||Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy and Development, Queensland 1998. Protocols for consultation and negotiation with Aboriginal people. Brisbane: Queensland Government.
Queensland Department of Communities & Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships 2005. Engaging Queenslanders: introduction to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Brisbane: Queensland Department of Communities.
|South Australia||Government of South Australia. Department of Premier and Cabinet. Aboriginal Affairs and reconciliation.|
|New South Wales||Local Government and Aboriginal communities working together.|
|By Sector||The Arts
Natural Resource Management
*IAP2 like many organisations is on a continuous learning journey with engagement and in particular Maori, Pasifika and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement. We will continue to update this page as we learn and grow and encourage our members to also reach out and suggest improvements and updates.