Corroboration of Aboriginality is an extremely sensitive issue. It is part of your role to support applicants to explore options for corroborating their Aboriginality.
Who are Aboriginal people?
Aboriginal people are the oldest living culture in the world and have strong cultures and communities. The resilience of Aboriginal people provides the foundation upon which to build further efforts to improve Aboriginal health.
To identify as Aboriginal encompasses not just the physical wellbeing of an individual but refers to the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of one's whole community as well as an understanding of what it is to be Aboriginal that has been passed down from generation to generation, not brought in or learned academically. For members of the Stolen Generation this means that they may be unable to find their family and reconnect with Country, language, tradition, knowledge and spirituality. This can be an extremely difficult and sensitive issue.
Within NSW Health, the term 'Aboriginal' is generally used in preference to 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander', in recognition that Aboriginal people are the original inhabitants of NSW.
The requirement for citing Aboriginality in NSW Health is linked specifically to Aboriginal identified and Aboriginal targeted positions.
Respectfully, each and every Aboriginal person has the inherent right to cite and corroborate their Aboriginality as they choose. Essentially the statutory requirements for Aboriginality are simple - it is based upon descent. Further descriptors are now recognised but are at the discretion of the individual.
Each individual will "describe" themselves differently, some will cite family, some will cite where they are from and others will cite their sense of belonging (where they come from).
All descriptors command respect. Each individual has that inherent right and once you have engaged and paid respect to their voices - you will hear their story, and come to understand them.
The "Aboriginal Three Point Identification" is a social definition, rather than a racial one:
- Descent - the individual cites that a parent is of Aboriginal descent
- Self-identification - the individual identified as an Aboriginal, and
- Community recognition - the individual is accepted as such by the Aboriginal community in which he/she lives or works.
Managers need to be aware that some Aboriginal people may view the process of having to corroborate their Aboriginality as a continuation of government control and dominant culture defining cultural identity.
You need to be aware of and prepared for the diversity of opinions and sensitivities held around corroborating Aboriginality. This can be an extremely sensitive issue for some Aboriginal people for a number of reasons, including:
- The consequences of past government policies such as Stolen Generations, NSW Aborigines Protection Act 1909 and NSW Aborigines Welfare Board which has resulted in many cases of Aboriginal people without documented or personal connection to their Country, communities and cultural groups.
- Many Aboriginal people having grown up in or moved to areas away from their traditional Country.
Obtaining information that corroborates Aboriginality may be an extremely difficult and lengthy process for people in these situations. It is important that such difficulties are not a barrier for recruitment and that you provide support to applicants to explore their options for corroborating Aboriginality.
Some options for corroborating Aboriginality, such as the issuing of particular documents may not always meet the timing of the recruitment process as processing can often be a lengthy.
Options for corroborating Aboriginality
It is part of a manager's role to support applicants and employees to explore options for corroborating their Aboriginality. It may be beneficial in the first instance to encourage Aboriginal applicants to seek advice from a local Aboriginal incorporated organisation or their Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC).
For applicants unable to access documentation from a local incorporated Aboriginal organisation or their Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC), consideration should be given to providing more flexible arrangements for corroborating their Aboriginality.
Such options may include:
- Community advice
- Statutory declaration
- Referee checks
- Family histories and contacts
- The term Aboriginality has specific legal meanings within the NSW Public Sector context as it relates to specific legislation guiding Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights
- The term Aboriginality also has specific legal meanings within the NSW Health public system as it relates to specific legislation guiding Equal Employment Opportunity, Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights
Respecting the Difference training
Respecting the Difference training together with the engagement of local Aboriginal Health Managers and Managers of Aboriginal Workforce Development will ensure Managers' understanding of NSW Health's priorities for Aboriginal health which includes supporting the growth of the Aboriginal health workforce.
Respecting the Difference trainingReminder
Managers are required to undertake the Respecting the Difference eLearning and face-to-face training.
The Government Sector Employment Act (2013) establishes new arrangements for workforce diversity and amends the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 by removing Part 9A, which previously provided the basis for Equal Opportunity in Public Employment.
The NSW Health Recruitment and Selection policy clearly outlines NSW Health's procedures for confirming Aboriginality and the processes to support the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal people into the NSW Health public service.