The training workshop, Engaging Our Mob, was developed and run by People Dynamics and sponsored by the ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment.
The Panel was comprised of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members.
- Sam Falkner (National Health and Medical Research Council)
- Bill Fogarty (National Centre for Indigenous Studies)
- Tricia Elarde (National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation)
The workshop aimed to enhance the participants’ understanding of the ethics and contexts of communicating and collaborating with Indigenous Australians. Engaging our Mob allowed staff and students to learn real-life skills and strategies for working successfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities in a research context.
The objective was not only to transfer the experiences, skills and strategies of experts in the field, but also to create an open and accepting environment in which participants felt comfortable asking questions.
The twenty-five participants who attended the day-long workshop, which is now in its second year, discussed a number of different techniques and values.
These ranged from the most basic – such as simply being yourself – to the more complex, including learning about Indigenous cultural history and historical events such as the Stolen Generation before you engage in research within Indigenous communities.
The coordinators identified five key objectives that they sought to highlight throughout the seminar. These objectives sought to feature as cornerstones of the practice of engaging Indigenous communities, and were expressed as:
- Learning real life skills and strategies that work
- To learn from the past and model a new future
- To successfully engage with Indigenous clients: how to adapt current models of working to meet client and community needs
- The current and future challenges facing us in engaging successfully with Indigenous clients.
- Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.
In regards to the individual seeking to engage, the coordinators listed a number of focus points to promote further discussion
- Be human - have a positive regard.
- Know the history of the Stolen Generations, closing the gap, Sorry Day.
- Participate in cultural events e.g. NAIDOC.
- Be aware of Indigenous services such as Winnunga.
- Be yourself.
- Be aware of your own prejudices and widen your embrace.
- Be constantly self evolving.
- Really listen allow yourself to be immersed in the stories you are told.
- Hold on hope for people when they cannot do it for themselves.
- Be open, honest and accountable.
- Be, rather than do.
- Understand the importance of connection to tribe, land, culture and family.
- Share your story.
- Don't be afraid to make mistakes; if you do say sorry, move on.
- Make sure you have proper debriefing mechanisms in place.