Central to identity
“Culture is central to identity. Culture defines who we are, how we think, how we communicate, what we value and what is important to us… Every area of human development, which defines the child’s best interest, has a cultural component. Your culture helps define HOW you attach, HOW you express emotion, HOW you learn and HOW you stay healthy.”
Muriel Bamblett (2006), VACCA 2010a, Building Respectful Partnerships: The Commitment to Aboriginal Cultural Competence in Child and Family Services, Melbourne: VACCA, p. 13
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are widely diverse, distinct and complex, and vary across communities in Australia
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is not static or uniform. Like all cultures, it is continually interpreted and adapted according to the influences on the person or the community. However, there are common threads and beliefs that are shared amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today.
Someone is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander if they have one or two parents who identify and descend from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander family.
An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child’s identity, culture and language come from their family and their relationship with the land and the sea.
There are also many people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent respectively, and they may identify as an Aboriginal and as a Torres Strait Islander person.
More common today, especially in urban areas, children are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent as well as another culture, such as European or Asian cultures for example. Culture plays a key role in the child’s development, identity and self-esteem, and contributes to the overall well-being of the child.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people both individually and collectively as a community, define themselves by their culture, not the colour of their skin.”
Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy and Development, Protocols for Consultation and Negotiation with Aboriginal People, Queensland Government, (1999), p. 19.