your use Committee Coordinators
Workers Growing in
6. The Land and its implications
1. Service providers need to develop an understanding of the spiritual relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have to the land as a source of their identity. Aboriginal concepts and systems of land tenure differ significantly from a Western perception and this may impact on an Indigenous family’s living situation when accessing non Aboriginal Services. Service providers need to know who the local community(ies) is/are and what area their land covered. In the Upper Hunter this is the Wanaruah and Kamilaroi peoples. Your Local Aboriginal Lands Council will be able to provide you with this information.
2. Aboriginal beliefs are based on creation stories of ‘The Dreaming’. These stories describe the way Ancestors left their mark on the land. Particular stories are linked to particular landscapes and different land-holding groups are custodians of different stories. It is important to understand that ‘sacred sites’ are an essential part of Aboriginal people’s beliefs. Your Local Aboriginal Lands Council will be able to provide you with this information. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife website provides useful information on Aboriginal people, their culture and significant areas.
working with your Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community a standard
of respect and acknowledgement is essential. By demonstrating your respect
to the Indigenous community you will be able to establish trusting relationships
and enable communications to take place effectively.
Whenever you invite an Aboriginal person to provide a cultural service such as a ‘Welcome to Country’ or an artistic performance they are using their intellectual property. As such it is important to acknowledge these services with appropriate remuneration. The NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs provides a fee for service schedule.
European settlement has resulted in considerable changes to the Aboriginal
culture and land-holding patterns over the past 200 years. It has resulted
in a conflict between two systems of law and culture. The concept of ‘terra nullius’ lead to the dispossession of land for Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander peoples and with this, a loss of economic
base including natural and cultural resources. It is important to recognise
that this period of Australian history continues to impact on Indigenous
peoples today. Clients accessing your Service may have lost the connection
to their traditional land and culture and have no where to belong. This
can create social and financial disadvantage for the family. It is important
to recognise the effects of this loss of connectedness and offer support
and referral where appropriate.
5. As a Worker you may be confronted with wider community views regarding Native Title and the land rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that are not accurate. The Mabo decision of 1992 and the Wik decision of 1996 have lead to some misconceptions about the ownership of land by Indigenous peoples. It is important to have a general understanding of Native Title and land rights in order to address these myths. It will also help you to develop a better understanding of some of the difficulties that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience in accessing and trusting non-Aboriginal Services.
6. The limitations of the Native Title Act 1993 indicate that any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander group seeking a native title claim must demonstrate a continuous traditional connection to their land. If the people have left their land either voluntarily or forcibly and lost their connection as defined by their laws and customs, then the title is lost. This will be the case for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders that access your Service. This may have implications for the Indigenous community you are working with.