19 November 2014 | BLOG: Family and Community Support
SNAICC has written a new paper that explores the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parenting. The paper – written in partnership with the Australian Institute of Family Studies – was produced after spending time listening to communities around the country.
The evidence provided in the paper challenges the conventional media narrative that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are poorer at child rearing and shines a light on the many advantages of growing up in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and family.
Four key strengths were identified across the communities SNIACC spoke with. These included a community approach to child rearing, the freedom for children to experience helping them to develop, the significant role that elders play and the protective factor that culture plays in children’s lives.
Below are some of the messages communities discussed during the research.
- Community Approach To Child rearing
It’s called “many eyes”. There are people watching all the time. They know who you are, they know your name and they know what line you are and how you come down in your family and what your responsibilities are. (Parent, NT)
Your child’s always safe, there’s never a moment when they’re not in the community. That’s what I like! (Aboriginal Auntie and grandparent, Vic.)
- Freedom to explore and experience helps children’s development
The reason it works so well in our culture, is because that sense of responsibility empowers our children. Children think, “well, mum trusts me enough to do this, this and this, I better not let her down”. (Mother, Qld)
- Elderly family members are important in supporting families and children
I drop my kids at my parents every day. It’s so much more than child care. They grow strong and learn about our culture and get really close with all their cousins. (Father, Qld)
- Culture and spiritual practices help keep families and communities strong and support each other
When you’ve got an older person, they can confirm your connection … they can confirm your connection to country and family and their stories – which is what we should have and a lot of us don’t have. And your language, you don’t have a lot of language. And their stories that they tell you are our history and it tells you where you belong, and it gives you that strength. (Auntie and mother, Vic.)
This paper is by no means a “how to” guide for family support workers. However, it may prompt service providers to consider how cultural characteristics and kinship systems could be used to strengthen family and community capacity.