Cultural competency on the rise

By Ellen Blake

Where the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift online upended many organisations last year, Koorie Heritage Trust (KHT) manager of education and visitor experience Rob Hyatt said the trust’s Building Aboriginal Cultural Competency workshops had soared in popularity.

“There’s been a massive return from moving online. We now do about 25 to 30 sessions a month,” Mr Hyatt told CBD News.

Through the workshops, the KHT works with various companies, including state governments and corporate and community organisations, to provide education on working with Aboriginal communities.

“The main thing we hear from organisations is a desire to learn more and provide workplace support,” Mr Hyatt said. 

“Many of the organisations we work with have implemented reconciliation strategies but need more education on certain issues.”

The Building Aboriginal Cultural Competency workshop focuses on four key education blocks: concentration of Aboriginality and identity, history, understanding Aboriginal communities today, and hints and tips for effectively engaging with Aboriginal people.

“The workshop supports people to work with Aboriginal people but also stresses the social benefit of broader education about Aboriginality,” Mr Hyatt said

The workshop includes discussions on both traditional and contemporary elements of Aboriginality, an understanding of the history of what has happened to Aboriginal people and its impacts on areas such as education, justice and employment.

Mr Hyatt said the workshop also impressed the resilience of Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal people. 

“One of the main points of the workshop is to underscore the continued survival of Aboriginal culture and its strengths,” Mr Hyatt said.

Mr Hyatt said the workshops were based on experiential and participatory learning and encouraged discussion.

He added that workshop participants were increasingly interested in discussing “Change the Date” and “Black Lives Matter” after highly publicised social movements over the past few years.

“This is just not a lecture, we encourage participants to self-explore their own experiences, values, beliefs and behaviour,” he said.

The KHT is holding the Building Aboriginal Cultural Competency workshops for organisations, and individuals and small groups throughout the year online.

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