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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture as a strength

Don’t allow immediate concerns such as housing or financial issues take precedence over cultural concerns, they are equally important. Fostering attachment to culture builds an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young person’s sense of identity, resilience and self-esteem, and strengthens them against the uncertainty of the future.

To ensure a positive experience, incorporate cultural planning into transition to adulthood planning for young people leaving care.

Using therapeutic life story work is a means to develop life and cultural understanding. (Refer to the Therapeutic life story work section of this practice kit.)

The following paragraphs provide a brief overview of some of the ways we can tap into culture to help young people overcome violence through community support.

Work with the community

The concepts of extended family and ‘community as family’ in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities encompass the idea that children are not just the concern of the biological parents, but of the entire community. The raising, care, education and discipline of children are the responsibility of everyone—male, female, young and old. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have strong family values.

The presence of positive, supportive adult relationships is a strong influencer for young people, encouraging them to develop lives they see as meaningful and positive. These important relationships carry them through the difficult phase into adulthood and are particularly important for young people who have been in care, without their families around them.

Working with the community the young person originally came from, or the community that they now live in, helps to give them a sense of belonging.

Create connections with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations. This will enable you to link the young person to the organisation/s that will best suit their needs. (Refer to Building partnerships with the community in the Safe care and connection practice kit.)  

Join the community in acknowledging key dates of significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by getting out into the community and participating in community events.

Elders provide wisdom and leadership

In many communities, elders provide support and influence. Ask local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander workers which community leaders may give insight into and leadership about family violence in their community.

Develop relationships with the local Elders group by inviting them to the Child Safety Service Centre or attending their meetings. Cultural practice advisors and independent persons supporting the family can assist in establishing relationships prior to when you need them for advice and guidance creates trust. Be there in the good times, not just the difficult times.

When planning for the transition of a young person, talk with the young person about whether they want an independent person to facilitate their participation in decision making. If the independent person is an elder, they will have the knowledge and wisdom to help the young person talk about the cultural support they need and how their cultural needs can be met in the transition discussions and planning processes.
Refer to Independent person in the Safe care and connection practice kit.) 

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