Skip to main navigation Skip to main content
Up-to-date information on how we are responding to COVID-19
Stay informed

Meaningful cultural consultation

Cultural practice means recognising the protective qualities of culture for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, recognising the many obstacles that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families need to work through to be safe. It also means and providing practical solutions to those obstacles and building a rapport with families and communities based on an awareness of your power and privilege, respect and sensitivity.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are the experts in their culture and community. You need to be the expert in building trusting relationships.

It is important to remember that every community is different and every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person’s experience of community is different. Engaging with a cultural practice advisor or other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff from within the department and other agencies will help you to understand the way that each community operates. Using tools such as genograms and ecomaps may be useful to explore the child and family’s connection to the community.

Make sure that when you are speaking with people that you are careful not to breach a family’s confidentiality. Cultural Practice Advisors will be able to guide you about the sharing of information so that it does not get back to the person causing the woman and child harm—which may place them at further risk of violence.

Note

The language you use to engage with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander man, woman and child is just as important as the language used to describe the man’s violent behaviour.

Read the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural capability – respectful language guide to assist you to make respectful, conscious and insightful choices of words, terms and language.

Questions to consider in your cultural consultation

To be most effective in your consultation with the family, prepare appreciative enquiry questions that will help you to understand the child, family and community. It is also useful to ask the Cultural Practice Advisor to help you draft some questions to ask each family member. Practise talking about any important points you need to raise with the family with the Cultural Practice Advisor first.

Further reading

The following considerations and questions will help you to prepare to talk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

About the child

Practice consideration Consultation questions

What cultural information do I need to know so I can:

  • engage with the child
  • understand the child’s relationship with their parents and other family members
  • understand the language that the child may use to talk about violence
  • know what cultural practices may help to keep the child safe and to heal
  • understand what the child might be scared about if they talk about the violence
  • Does this family identify as Aboriginal? Torres Strait Islander? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander? "So I can understand more about the culture of your family, are you able to share with me what community you belong to or are connected with and what country or nation you belong to or identify with?"
  • What are some of the things that are important to them about their culture?
  • Does the child belong to the same family or kinship group as the man using violence?
  • Can the child identify safe people in their family or community?
  • Can the child identify people in their family or community as unsafe?
  • What cultural norms and beliefs should I be aware of when engaging with this child?
  • What social responses may the child experience in relation to the violence?
  • How can I talk to the child about the violence? What is the best approach? What words should I use or not use? ? How should I talk to the child about my worries?

 

About the mother

As well as questions for children, the Cultural Practice Advisor can help you develop some questions you can ask the woman and the family. Practice talking about any important points you need to raise with the family with the Cultural Practice Advisor first.

Practice consideration

Consultation questions

What cultural information do I need to know in order to:

  • engage with the family
  • understand the family dynamics
  • understand the language the family may use to talk about family violence
  • understand the family’s relationship with the community
  • assess the family’s ability to keep the child safe
  • know what cultural practices may help to keep the child safe and to heal
  • understand what the woman might be scared about if she talks about the violence.
  • Does this family identify as Aboriginal? Torres Strait Islander? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander? "So I can understand more about the culture of your family, are you able to share with me what community you belong to or are connecte with and the country or nation you belong to or identify with?"
  • What would they say is important to them about their culture?
  • How are they connected to each other?
  • Does this family belong or are they connected to the local community?
  • If not, how long have they been in this community? What brought them here?
  • Does this family live in an isolated location where services are difficult to access?
  • Does this family have regular contact or a relationship with family, extended family, and/or community Elders? If so, who are they?
  • Who is in their circle of safety / safety and support network?
  • Does this family experience any family dynamics that may impact upon the current child protection concerns?
  • Does this family have links with any other support agencies (including Indigenous and non-indigenous services)?
  • Who are the leaders in the family?
  • What social responses might the woman be experiencing as a result of being a victim of violence?
  • How can I talk to the woman about the violence? What is the best approach? What words should I use or not use?

 

Practice prompt

Victims of family violence are unlikely to express their experience using explicit terms such as ‘family abuse and violence. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims are more likely to use phrases such as ‘um (pause) well, we were arguing’, ‘my husband was acting up’, he was being cheeky’, it was just a little fight’ and ‘we were drinking’. Such terms are also used by perpetrators and community members and may normalise the violent behaviour, which can lead to the extent of the problem being underestimated.

About the father

It is also useful to ask the Cultural Practice Advisors can also help you draft some questions you can ask the man. Practice talking about any important points you need to raise with the family with the Cultural Practice Advisor first.

Practice consideration Consultation questions

What cultural information do I need to know in order to:

  • engage with the father
  • understand the father's relationship with the woman, children or other family members
  • understand the way that the father may minimise, deny and blame others
  • know how to talk to the father about violence, and what may motivate him to change his behaviours
  • understand who  the key people are in the community who may help to make him accountable
  • Does the man using violence identify as Aboriginal? Torres Strait Islander? Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander? "So I can understand more about the culture of your family, are you able to share with me what community you belong to or are connected with and the country or nation you belong to or identify with?"
  • What would they say is important to them about their culture?
  • How does he see himself in relation to his family? I.e. Provides care for his children, manages the finances, sees his children occasionally
  • Does he or someone within his family hold a position of power or leadership within the family or community? I.e. Eldest son or grandchild, father is an Elder
  • Does he have a support network of people in the community or family?
  • What social responses may he be experiencing in relation to the violence?
  • How can I talk to him about the violence? What is the best approach? What words should I use or not use?

 

About the community

Finally, it is also useful to ask the cultural practice advisor to help you draft some questions you can ask the community. Practise talking about any important points you need to raise with the family with the cultural practice advisor first.

The following considerations and questions will help you to prepare to talk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Practice consideration Consultation questions

What cultural information do I need to know in order to:

  • build trust with the community
  • understand the community’s relationship with the family
  • assess the community’s ability to keep the child safe
  • assess the impact of the community on the risk to the child
  • understand language that may be used by the community to talk about violence

How does the community respond to the woman and her child?

Does this community:

  • hold perpetrators of violence accountable?
  • understand the current child protection concerns?
  • understand the power and control dynamics?
  • demonstrate an ability or willingness to respond to child protection concerns?
  • function well and generally keep children safe?

What is the best way I can engage with community or Elders about violence? What are some of the things I should or shouldn’t say?

 

Version history

Back to top

Published on:

Last reviewed:

  • Date: 
    Page created
  • Date: 
    Page created