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This paper explores some of the characteristics of traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander1 culturalpractices that contribute to effective family functioning, and how these practices can have positive effectson children and communities. The approach is to gather the views of Aboriginal families and compare theseperspectives with supporting evidence drawn from the literature. The findings suggest that, provided thenecessary social conditions are in place, culture can be a protective force for children, families and communities.
Aboriginal kinship relations reflect a complex and dynamic system that is not captured by existing non-Indigenous definitions of family. Emerging evidence supports some of the strengths of traditional Aboriginal culture in family functioningand raising children, yet conventional academic wisdom can be incompatible with traditional Aboriginalknowledge systems. The strengths of Aboriginal cultural traditions, as they apply to family life and raising children, revolvearound four interrelated themes, including:–– Theme 1: A collective community focus on child rearing helps children—The values of interdependence,group cohesion and community loyalty are key features of Aboriginal family and community life, whereraising children is considered to be a shared responsibility of all community members.–– Theme 2: Children need the freedom to explore and experience the world—Aboriginal communitiesoffer their children every opportunity to explore the world around them, to help them develop thenecessary skills to successfully negotiate their pathways to adulthood.–– Theme 3: Elderly family members are important to family functioning—The elderly are highly respectedfor their contributions to family life in Aboriginal communities, particularly in helping children tounderstand the practical aspects of life and society.–– Theme 4: Spirituality helps families cope with challenges—Families and communities who engage inspiritual practices benefit from a greater sense of identity, and individuals are more likely to connectwith, support and help protect one another.
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Clearly explains what is effective about the document and what is problematic, considering:• Culture, and how this can be applied to professional practice and Indigenous Australian contexts,• The ‘big 3’ (reader centredness, usability, and persuasiveness).