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Innovating for better Indigenous service delivery


Steve Spinks
28 August 2013
Service provision to Indigenous Australians has a history of poor targeting to client needs or worse, of direct paternalism.

A Southern Cross University seminar will consider how innovative service provision might benefit from some assurance that it is focused upon the needs of the clients and underpinned by principles of cultural safety. The seminar is on Thursday, August 29, at the Gold Coast campus.

The seminar is the first of the 2013 Community Seminar Series hosted by the University’s School of Arts and Social Sciences.

“We will look at the history of service provision to Indigenous Australians and the models that underpinned the ideas. These range from the charitable, to assimilationist, to self-determination based and then to mutual obligation,” Dr Lester Thompson, senior lecturer and seminar chair, said.

“The concept of cultural safety has recently been developed. It is about service providers understanding and having sensitivity to the culture of Indigenous (and other) clients and encouraging their sense of safety when expressing their needs.

“Sensitivity when providing service is essential but more understanding is needed by providers. It’s not good enough to simply be caring and committed. Service providers have to understand that Indigenous Australians have cultural differences from the dominant mainstream and that they won’t necessarily meet their needs in the mainstream way. One size does not fit all.”

The aim of the Seminar Series is to support workers in the fields of human services, social welfare and social work in developing and evaluating innovative solutions to challenging problems. The seminar runs from 4pm to 7pm and registration is free.

The second seminar of the series will be held on Thursday, October 3, and will focus on innovation in community services with people experiencing poverty.

The third seminar will be held on Thursday, November 7, and will discuss innovation in community services for children.

The fourth and final seminar will be held on Thursday, December 5, and will be on innovation in community services for people with disability.

Photo: Dr Lester Thompson.