Far more needs to be demanded of service deliverers and people responsible for interacting with Indigenous communities to facilitate cultural understanding, according to a Northern Territory academic.
Charles Darwin University Professor of Governance, Don Fuller has co-authored a paper illustrating the need for two-way knowledge engagement between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Published in the Journal of Socio and Economic Policy, “Aboriginal Economic and Human Development in the Northern Territory of Australia: A Clash of Non-Indigenous Beliefs”, has been co-authored with Scott Holmes, Jeremy Buultjens and CDU’s Susan Bandias.
Professor Fuller said raising the living standards of Indigenous Australians, especially in Northern Territory remote communities, was one of the major challenges facing Australia today.
“There are a large number of people living in communities typified by conditions of poverty, poor health, high crime, alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse,” he said.
“Research suggests that welfare payments have placed many Indigenous Australians in a poverty trap undermining culturally acceptable norms of behaviour and traditional values and relationships within Indigenous communities.”
Professor Fuller said it was necessary that Indigenous people be seen as more than just “clients” by public and private deliverers of goods and services.
“Those who deal with Indigenous communities should be chosen because they are interested in Indigenous people and have empathy and a willingness to learn and understand Indigenous values, cultural practices and understandings,” he said.
“There needs to be a heightened preparedness to be involved in ‘two –way’ cultural understandings, shared knowledge and communication,- across the range of employment, sporting, social and cultural activities regarded as important by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”
Professor Fuller said he believed the task required far more organisational and individual intellectual commitment, interest, involvement and understanding than was occurring presently.