What are Cultural Protocols?
Protocols exist as standards of behaviour used by people to show respect to one another.
Cultural protocol refers to the customs, lore and codes of behaviour of a particular cultural group and a way of conducting business. It also refers to the protocols and procedures used to guide the observance of traditional knowledge and practices, including how traditional knowledge is used, recorded and disseminated.
For each culture, there are different ways to communicate. Working with people from different backgrounds in a respectful manner requires an understanding of their perspective, values or methods in expressing themselves.
However, there are no cemented approaches in operating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as every community is unique.
The location certainly plays an important role in terms of protocols, as there are remote communities, rural communities and those in provincial towns and major cities. As such, it is crucial to recognize each for their cultural uniqueness.
“Be respectful and ask!
(Karen Salam, QATSICPP)
Why do we need protocols?
Why are they important?
As the traditional custodians of the land, it is imperative that the special position of Aboriginal people is recognised and integrated into official protocol so as to propagate the culture into the wider community and promote a better relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the general community.
A lack of understanding of the differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures is often the site for breakdowns in communication, leading to a misconstrued portrayal of Indigenous people.
Fundamentally, the protocols are intended to provide effective and respectful manners of communication with Indigenous peoples. Whilst no rule exists that is applicable to all circumstances or situations, some rules do exist, which present ideal ways to proceed when researching, interviewing, or conducting works dealing with matters of concern to Indigenous peoples.
Ceremonies and protocols are an important part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander culture.
By incorporating them into official events we are able to:
- Recognise and pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culture and heritage; and
- Demonstrate recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s unique position, which can assist in building respectful relationships and partnerships.
Examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander protocols
Welcome to country
Acknowledgement of country and Elders
Use of images and voices
Sorry business and bereavement protocols