Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children living with disability

Emerging Minds, Australia, September 2021

Resource Summary

Download a large print (16pt) version of this tip sheet.

Before using these tip sheets, we advise you to work through the following resources. These are designed to provide you with foundation skills for working effectively and respectfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families living with disability:

As a practitioner, it is essential to listen to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and heed their hard-earned wisdom. This is even more important when working with Aboriginal families living with disability. Every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child’s experience of disability will be different, depending on the nature of their disability, and the extent to which they are able to participate in, and learn from their relationships, activities and experiences.

This series of tip sheets has been co-designed with Aboriginal families who care for children living with disability. It is primarily designed for non-Indigenous workers supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families where a child is living with disability. The information in these tip sheets comes from intergenerational wisdom, generously given to help other families and children.

These tip sheets focus on three domains:

  • Taking a holistic approach: Working holistically means understanding that social and emotional wellbeing is maintained through connections to body, mind and emotions, spirituality, Land, Community, family, language and culture. This approach is about seeing the child, family and community as being interconnected. This tip sheet is intended to provide guidance to support a holistic approach when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families living with disability.
  • Culturally safe practice: Cultural competence is a life-long journey for all of us, not a destination. This tip sheet is intended to provide guidance to support culturally safe practice when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families living with disability.
  • Working skillfully to support families: The skills and knowledge required by non-Indigenous practitioners to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities can be supported by a framework of genuine curiosity, an appreciation of the richness and diversity of First Nations cultures, and a willingness to hear and understand the unique lived experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities. This tip sheet is intended to provide guidance to support skillful practice when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families living with disability.

It is important to remember there are no easy answers in this work, nor one single way of working. Instead, these tip sheets present important themes for non-Indigenous workers to be aware of; things to think about, reflect on and be curious about when working to support families.

Acknowledgement

This series of tip sheets has been co-designed from conception to publication with Aunty Louise Rankine and Natalie Giles. We would like to thank them for their time, wisdom and passion in undertaking this task.

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