Respect and Acknowledgement:
The unique role of Indigenous people needs to be recognised
and acknowledged as a first step. These groups and
individuals can be hard to identify, but the effort
needs to be made and one needs to talk with as many
people as necessary.
Adequate and appropriate consultation relies on
relationships built on trust. This is essential to
create an environment in which engagement can occur.
"As with most communities, relationships
come before anything else. Outsiders who are unable
to form relationships with communities will find
their efforts frustrated. The person who introduces
you or your group to a community is important to
your acceptance. Genuine efforts at building good
relations may overcome barriers. Demonstrating your
respect and sensitivity towards the political structures
of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community
and their protocols and ways of communicating will
help you." (Local Reconciliation Groups
Toolkit, page 10, Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation,
Lack of participation by Indigenous people can be
due to racism, discrimination and isolation (which
may be a result of discrimination).
Development of Protocols:
"Protocol means observing customs and communicating
in a way that is appropriate and relevant."
(page 9, Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation,
Indigenous people need to have the opportunity to
develop protocols for engagement as these provide
a framework for any work undertaken and the basis
for the relationship.
In developing consultative processes issues such
as the structure and location of meetings, language
in letters of invitation and documents and meeting
processes must be appropriate and welcoming.
Principles for developing protocols between parties
- Relationships built on respect and trust
- Native Title legislation
- The need to negotiate decisions/agreements
- Acknowledging different cultural values
"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
communities are diverse. Check each step of the
way that your approach is consistent with the
protocols for each group you are dealing with
and the group whose country you are working in.
Sometimes people will not tell you your approach
is inappropriate unless you ask."(page
11, Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, 2000)
Serious mistakes have been made in the past and a
level of distrust exists. A fresh approach is needed,
characterised by goodwill, good faith and a commitment
to Aboriginal access to services. Local governments
are in a good position to play a very positive role.