The diversity of the Indigenous cultures and interests in regions requires a flexible approach to cultural protocols. An important aspect of avoiding rudeness or inappropriate behaviour is to seek and listen to advice from people with experience and knowledge, if it is offered. Some points to remember when working with Aboriginal communities include:
- Each community is different and unique, and while there may be some common interests, what applies in one will not automatically apply in another;
- In some, setting use of Aboriginal language including interpreters may be required to adequately define terms, particularly if the terminology used is of a technical or complex nature;
- Acknowledgement of traditional owners;
- Face to face meetings can help to overcome fundamental lack of understandings about Aboriginal ways of life and thus build trust for sustainable agreements and effective engagement;
- Allow time for information to filter to other community members who for various reasons cannot be at the meeting;
- Don’t expect an immediate answer to questions and don’t be disappointed or dismissive if the consultation doesn’t meet expectations;
- Stick with agreements made at a meeting and make sure that actions that the agency agrees to are actually carried out, do not force outcomes at the meeting; and
- Appropriate dress code.
For further information please refer to Consulting citizens; engaging with Aboriginal Western Australians.