Taking time

Emerging Minds, Australia, 2019

Resource Summary

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain imagery, audio or names of people who have passed away.

This resource is part of Emerging Minds’ Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children toolkit. Drawing on the expertise of First Nations consultants, practitioners and families, the toolkit explores ways non-Indigenous professionals and services can develop genuine partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

Relationships form the foundation of good practice. Spend time, have fun, build the connections and find common ground.

- Aboriginal engagement practitioner

Listen until people come up with their own solutions. Take time.

- Social service practitioner

On a deeper level, non-Indigenous practitioners are unintentionally part of a system that has left deep, lasting scars and wariness in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s contact with government and community services.

This barrier is complex, difficult to navigate and takes time to overcome. It can be complicated with services that end or change and with the turnover of staff that occurs in many organisations.

Wherever possible practitioners and organisations need to consider how to maintain individual and community connections, despite the changes that can occur in organisations and the operational pressures you face.

Watch this interview with Elder Bill Wilson on the importance of developing relationships, then consider the following questions.

Look and listen:

  • In working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or through your learnings, what are you hearing when you allow the time to overcome this barrier? What are you seeing?

Learn and reflect:

  • When do you notice that you are feeling impatient or needing to move things along in your practice? Why is that? Is it about the pressures you are under or is it something else?
  • When you allow just that small moment of extra time, what do you notice about your interactions with Aboriginal people and communities?


  • How much do you need to listen before you can focus on the ‘work’ you are meant to do?
  • How is this time you are giving an integral part of the ‘work’ you need to achieve?

This reflection by Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr will guide you in practicing inner deep listening and quiet still awareness.


The preferred terminology used by Emerging Minds in our resources is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, as guided by our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing National Consultancy Group.

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