Trust the key to effective Indigenous engagementThe Closing the Gap Clearinghouse website has released two new papers stressing the importance of trust in developing effective relationships with Indigenous communities.
They argue that relationships built on trust, integrity and respect are crucial for effective engagement.
Engaging with Indigenous Australia—exploring the conditions for effective relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities reviews the evidence on engagement and outlines the conditions required for it to be effective.
The evidence shows that engaging successfully with Indigenous communities requires an appreciation of the historical, social, cultural and political complexity of specific Indigenous contexts and active Indigenous participation - from the earliest stage of defining the problem to be solved and defining aspirations, through to implementing the program and evaluating the results.
Successful engagement also required long-term relationships of trust, respect and honesty, as well as accessible and ongoing communication and clarity about roles and responsibilities.
There must be genuine efforts to share power, including through negotiated agreements, and clarity about the purpose of and scale for engagement and appropriate timeframes.
Governance and leadership must be strengthened within the Indigenous community and governments themselves, as well as negotiation of clear and agreed outcomes and indicators of success, with monitoring and evaluation processes that meet each party's needs.
The evidence shows that hurried one-off ‘consultations’ that are organised without Indigenous input do not work.
Fragmented arrangements, where each Agency tries to engage with the same Indigenous people and organisations, place unnecessarily heavy burdens on Indigenous people.
These findings are consistent with the findings of the second paper, Engagement with Indigenous communities in key sectors. This paper reviews evidence from studies of Indigenous engagement in early childhood services, environmental and natural resource management activities, and health programs at local, regional, state and national levels.
It outlines the common lessons on different levels of engagement from local engagement through to regional, State-wide and national engagement.
To view the papers go to this PS News link.
Edition 382, 8 October 2013