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In Journey 1 we will begin by looking at cultural identity.
The meaning of culture: reflect on your own cultural identity and predispositions.
Many workplaces have a variety of people from different cultures. This often includes Australian's First Nation people's; the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. Knowing more about Australia's First Nation people's culture can support all employees to work in harmony in a productive inclusive environment that support Closing the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
The first steps to cultural integrity and inclusive practice is to understand what culture actually is. Culture can be defined in many ways, but for most, it is the sum total of an individual's experiences, knowledge, skills, beliefs, values, sense of who they are and where they fit in their family, community, and society. Culture is also categorised into two types: Material culture and non-material culture.
Below is an activity about culture where you can think about the words that you believe define what culture is. Go ahead and think about the meaning of each word carefully as you go through.
Culture can be defined by everything from music and arts, language, religion, cuisine and social habits.
To move towards cultural integrity, we need to reflect on our own culture, and learn about other cultures so we can communicate respectfully and embrace multiculturalism.
Take a few minutes to reflect and think about where you come, where you belong, what you know?
Ask yourself the following questions.
Who and what is important to you in your life?
What do you believe in and value?
What is your culture and identity?
How much do you know and understand about cultures other than your own?
Hold onto those answers and thoughts and use them to reflect on your present level of cultural integrity.
The next part of the journey toward cultural integrity is to learn about Australia's First Nation people's history.
Awareness of Aboriginal and / or Torres Strait Islander culture, history and language.
To gain awareness of the First Nation people's history, a starting point is to understand the symbolic meaning of the flags.
The Aboriginal flag
Harold Thomas, a Luritja man from Central Australia designed the Aboriginal flag in the early 1970's. The symbolic meaning (as stated by Mr Harold Thomas) are:
Black: Represents the Aboriginal people of Australia
Red: Represents the red earth, the red ochre and a spiritual relation to the land
Yellow: Represents the Sun, the giver of life and protector.
The Torres Strait Islands flag
The late Bernard Namok from Thursday Island designed the Torres Strait Islands flag that won a competition in 1992. The symbolic meaning is:
Green: Represents the land
Blue: Represents the sea
White: Represents peace
Black Represents the Indigenous peoples
The dhari (headdress) represents Torres Strait Island people and the five pointed star represents the 5 major island groups. The star also represents navigation, as a symbol of the seafaring culture of the Torres Strait.
To watch and listen about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's culture, follow the links for videos and more information.
The Land Owns Us, by Global Oneness Project, is a testimonial by a traditional owner of Uluru (Ayer's Rock), Bob Randall, talking about his culture.
'For those people who feel challenged by the Stolen Generations, we ask you to listen to just one of these testimonials to see if you feel the same. That's all we ask'. (Debra Hocking-one of many Stolen Generation's survivors).
The next video, ‘Brief Introduction to Australian Aboriginal Culture’ by Haidarr Jones is a summary of some facts about the culture and contemporary issues of Indigenous people. Watch the video, then answer some multiple choice questions about the information you learned.
Ways to communicate effectively with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples
To communicate with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait islander peoples, it is important to show cultural respect, community engagement and appropriate protocols. To learn more, explore the following readings.