Managers and Supervisors have a crucial role to play in providing a culturally safe and supportive work environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff.  The National Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment will work with you to ensure that you have suitable support mechanisms in place for new and existing staff members

ACU Programs

Cultural Awareness Workshops

All staff working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students are strongly encouraged to attend a Cultural Awareness Workshop. Workshops are conducted annually, however if you believe that your area would benefit from a tailored workshop, one can be provided for you. Contact the National Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment for more information.

Learn more about our Cultural Awareness Workshops

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives - information sessions

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Perspectives are a series of information sessions by subject matter experts (both internal and external to ACU), and these events include lunchbox session talks. To date they have covered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Spirituality, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Business Governance, Aboriginal Identity, National 'Close the Gap' Day and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Recognition in the Constitution. The events increase knowledge and understanding around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives, build a level of cultural understanding and create communication opportunities. Please visit the ACU training website to see upcoming workshops.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff are invited to join the staff network and managers and supervisors are encouraged to support their staff’s attendance at these forums. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Staff Network meets quarterly via videoconferencing. To date, presenters have spoken to the network on mentoring, careers in chaotic times, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-focused research projects. They have also heard from the Vice-Chancellor and President regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Recognition in the Constitution, and received updates from the National Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment.

Providing a culturally-safe work environment

It is the responsibility of managers and supervisors to ensure that all staff members feel comfortable and safe in their work environment. The following suggestions may help you to provide the best assistance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff:

  • Attend Cultural Awareness Workshops and encourage other staff in the work unit to do so. The National Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment can tailor and deliver a session for the entire work unit if you feel it would be useful.
  • Avoid stereotyping and taking a ‘broad brush’ view of the capabilities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. All workplaces are made up of people who have different personalities, abilities, beliefs and interests. The sum of these things creates the culture of the workplace. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are as individual as anyone else.
  • Supervision of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff members is most effective when there are open lines of communication between you and the staff member. Rather than assuming that you know what might be required, asking questions and finding out from the source is more likely to lead to positive outcomes.
  • Ensure the behavior of all staff members in the work unit is appropriate. Address any potential discrimination, harassment and/or cultural insensitivity as soon as it occurs.
  • Avoid asking an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff member about their quantum of Aboriginality. For example, whether someone is 'part' or 'full' Aboriginal or indeed, 'full blood'. The term 'caste' in any manner is also unacceptable. One third of the formal definition is to self-identify and has no bearing on the percentage of cultural blood or connection.
  • Avoid telling people that they don't 'look' Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. One's appearance has no bearing on their cultural identity, beliefs, traditions, practices and/or the family/community in which they were raised.
  • Support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural events on campus, and encourage your team to get involved.

Cultural Awareness Fast Facts

The below links are provided as a starting point in answering frequently asked questions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. However the National Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment is also available to respond to any queries you may have. 

What is an Acknowledgement of Country?

Why have “Closing the Gap”?

What does Connection to Country mean?

What is Constitutional Recognition?

What does “Dreamings” mean?

What is an Elder?

Why are there so many Aunts and Uncles in a family?

What language do Indigenous people speak?

Who are Indigenous peoples?

Why do people want to live on Homelands?

Can you explain Sorry Business?

Why are there Stolen Generations?

Where are the Torres Strait Islands?

Who are Torres Strait Islander People?

Can you tell me about Welcome to Country?

Page last updated on 23/01/2020

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