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Aboriginal People:
a north east Victorian perspective

This section provides information on the Aboriginal peoples of north east Victoria.

Communicating Effectively
This section provides information that will assist in informed and respectful communication with Aboriginal peoples.

Historical Information &
Key Dates

This section provides information about important Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander historical and current events.

Aboriginal Health Promotion
This section provides information about Aboriginal health promotion.

Protocols & Procdures
This section provides information about protocols and procedures related to Aboriginal services, organisations and communities.

Producing Appropriate Information
This section provides information about how to ensure materials used are respectful and appropriately acknowledged.

Communicating Effectively

How is Aboriginality determined?

An Aboriginal person is a person who:

Remember that you cannot tell an Aboriginal person by skin colour and it is offensive to refer to the colour of someone's skin as an indication of their cultural heritage.

Who are the 'Stolen Generations'?

Under the Government's protection and assimilation policies, protection boards throughout Australia oversaw the removal of thousands of Aboriginal children (known as the 'Stolen Generations') from their parents. The personal and communal desolation resulting from the removal of Aboriginal children from their families was recognised at the 1996 hearings of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their Families, which gave rise to the Bringing Them Home report in 1997. ii

Clarifying terminology

What is the correct and respectful language to use when communicating with Aboriginal people?
Although it is grammatically correct, the term 'Aborigines' has negative connotations for some Aboriginal people. 'Aboriginal person' or 'Aboriginal people' can be used as an alternative.

The term 'Aboriginal' is not generally inclusive of Torres Strait Islander people.
Reference to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people should be made where necessary.

It is offensive when literature for distribution within the Aboriginal community refers to Aboriginal people or communities with a lower case 'a'.
Always capitalise the 'A' in 'Aboriginal' as you would other proper nouns and names such as 'Australian' or 'Minister'.

Do not use 'Aboriginal' as a noun (e.g. the government's new strategy will support increased business with Aboriginals).
The term 'Aboriginal' should only be used as an adjective (e.g. the government's new strategy will support increased business with Aboriginal people).

Aboriginal people or peoples - 'Aboriginal people' is a collective name for the original people of Australia and their descendants and does not emphasise the diversity of languages, communities, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs. By adding 's' to 'people', you are emphasising this diversity.

First People/First Australians - 'First People' and 'First Australians' are collective names for the original people of Australia and their descendants, and are used to emphasise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived on this continent prior to European colonisation.

Indigenous people or peoples - Because 'Indigenous' is not specific, some Aboriginal people feel the term diminishes their Aboriginality. It is recommended by the Victorian Government Department of Human Services to their staff that preference is given to the terms 'Aboriginal' and 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander'.

Torres Strait Islander or Torres Strait Islander person - A Torres Strait Islander or Torres Strait Islander person is a person or descendant from the Torres Strait Islands, which are located to the north of mainland Australia.

The term 'Torres Strait Islande' refers to people of Torres Strait Islander origin, whether or not they are also of Aboriginal origin. iii

Tribe, Clan and Mob - These are all terms referring to a culturally distinct group of Aboriginal people associated with a particular culturally defined area of land or country. A number of these 'tribes' or 'clans' comprise a larger grouping of Aboriginal people that would identify as a Nation (for definition of 'Nation' see section on Acknowledgment of Country).

'Mob' is a term that is increasingly being used by Aboriginal communities as a generic term. iv

Goori/Koori/Murri/Nunga
Goori – is usually used by Aboriginal people in northern NSW coastal regions
Koori – is usually used by Aboriginal people in parts of NSW and Victoria
Murri – is usually used by Aboriginal people in north-west NSW and Queensland
Nunga – is usually used by Aboriginal people in South Australia.
Always check with the local Aboriginal community about using this type of terminology. v

What are the inappropriate or outdated terms that must be avoided at all times because they are offensive?
The following terminology must be avoided at all times:
ATSI
Native
Mixed blood
Half-case
Quarter-caste
Full-blood
Part-Aboriginal
25%, 50% Aboriginal
Them
Them people
Those people
Those folk
You people vi

i NSW Department of Health (2004) Communicating positively. A guide to appropriate Aboriginal terminology. North Sydney, NSW Department of Health, p.9.
ii Ibid. p.28
iii Victorian Government Department of Human Services (2006) Building Better Partnerships. Melbourne, Victorian Government Department of Human Services, pp.25-28.
iv NSW Department of Local Government (2007) Engaging with local Aboriginal communities. A resource kit for local government in NSW. Sydney, NSW Department of Local Government, p.35.
v NSW Department of Health (2004), op.cit. p.13.
vi Ibid. p.29.

Reference List