Bob Kirk

What is Indigenous cultural competency?

Asked by Bob Kirk 1 year ago definition


Bob Kirk
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In recent years there has been growing awareness of the need for Australian professionals, including legal professionals to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be able to work effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.The need for ‘cultural awareness’ goes back to the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. This Report found that service provision to Aboriginal communities operated in a ‘neo-colonial framework’, and recommended that members of the judiciary, court staff and probation and parole officers undertake training to better understand Aboriginal society, customs and traditions, the disadvantaged position of many Aboriginal people, and the nature of relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities [1](3:79). Indigenous cultural competency is a variation on this theme and is also sometimes called ‘cultural safety’, ‘cultural respect’ or more recently, ‘cultural humility’. Universities Australia defines cultural competency as:
‘Student and staff knowledge and understanding of Indigenous Australian cultures, histories and contemporary realities and awareness of Indigenous protocols, combined with the proficiency to engage and work effectively in Indigenous contexts congruent to the expectations of Indigenous Australian peoples. Cultural competence includes the ability to critically reflect on one’s own culture and professional paradigms in order to understand its cultural limitations and effect positive change. Indigenous cultural competence requires an organisational culture which is committed to social justice, human rights and the process of reconciliation through valuing and supporting Indigenous cultures, knowledges and peoples as integral to the core business of the institution. It requires effective and inclusive policies and procedures, monitoring mechanisms and allocation of sufficient resources to foster culturally competent behaviour and practice at all levels of the institution. Embedding Indigenous cultural competence requires commitment to a whole of institution approach, including increasing the University’s engagement with Indigenous communities, Indigenisation of the curriculum, pro-active provision of services and support to Indigenous students, capacity building of Indigenous staff, professional development of non-Indigenous staff and the inclusion of Indigenous cultures and knowledges as a visual and valued aspect of university life, governance and decision-making.’[2]
The terminology used to define variations on cultural competency was discussed at length at the ICCLAP Consultation Workshop held in September 2016 ( the full report – ICCLAP Consultation Workshop Report – will be available on this website in July). Despite the various definitions, workshop participants agreed that law students (and academics) need to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to work more effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The ICCLAP project is working to increase the inclusion of Indigenous cultural competency in legal education through developing guiding principles and resources to assist legal academics achieve this goal.
[1] Commonwealth of Australia, Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody: National Report Volume 3(1991), 79.[2]Universities of Australia, National Best Practice Framework for Indigenous Cultural Competency (2011), 48.

by Bob Kirk 1 year ago

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What is Indigenous cultural competency?

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