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4. Acknowledgement of Aboriginal Peoples of South Australia

Safer Family Services (SFS) acknowledges the diverse Aboriginal peoples of South Australia and this Case Management Framework is a guide, by way of prompts, for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal practitioners to work alongside diverse Aboriginal communities, in keeping children connected to culture, healthy and safe.

Researchers have dated Aboriginal culture as being over 400,000 years old, with Aboriginal people most likely the oldest group in the world that can be linked to one particular place (Creative Spirits website, 2019). Like all other cultures, Aboriginal cultures are continuously interpreted and adapted according to the person or community, however there are common threads and beliefs that continue to be shared amongst Aboriginal people today. There is not one service response appropriate for all Aboriginal peoples; the diversity of nations must be acknowledged, and cultural responsiveness includes building SFS practices that are flexible and able to adapt to meet the needs of the child, family and community.

“Culture plays a key role in the child’s development, identity and self-esteem, and contributes to the overall well-being of the child” ~ Secretariat of National and Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) website, 2019

Given that the impact of trans-generational trauma, inter-generational trauma and toxic stress is as prevalent today as ever, it is crucial that we adopt respect for and humility towards understanding Aboriginal culture, being mindful of Australia’s colonisation history, dispossession, genocide, the Stolen Generation and historical practices such as segregation and assimilation.

Children respond differently to the trauma they have been exposed to. Aboriginal children can be exposed to trauma daily including by ‘…their exposure to trans-generational trauma and/or intergenerational trauma within their family and community. Living with people experiencing trauma can also trigger high levels of stress in children’ (SNAICC, 2019).

As a system of service responses, SFS acknowledges white privilege, both societal (historical and current) and systemic (understanding how systems confer dominance on a racial group), and how this impact on our engagement with Aboriginal children, families and communities, and more generally on case management practices.

Central to identity is culture. It defines how we raise our children, how we grieve or celebrate, how we interact with others and our environment. Aboriginal child rearing practices and kinship arrangements are central to Aboriginal culture.

“Child rearing…is literally a family and community concern and is not confined solely to the parents of the child” ~ SNAICC website, 2019

While the mother is the main carer for children, aunties, uncles, cousins and older siblings also have a role to play. Extended family and community play a crucial role and are a protective factor for Aboriginal children. As children get older, their peer group also becomes an important part of their learning. Grandparents, like parents, are very important in the life of Aboriginal children; they also teach children to ‘look up to’ Elders with respect. Grandparents are a protector for children and have significant authority; alongside their parents, they teach the children Aboriginal culture values and beliefs (SNAICC, 2019).

Since colonisation, the survival of Aboriginal nations, in the face of extreme adversity, is testament to the resilience, healing, hope and strength in identity, culture and traditions of Aboriginal nations. Aboriginal people are willing to be open and forgive.

The hope and safety of all children, being cared for by family and connected to culture and community, is a guiding and foundational value on which the Safer Family Services service system is built.

Page last updated : 25 Nov 2021

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