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Eades D. Cultural awareness and communication. 2010.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/9275
Cultural awareness and communication
Successful work in a Native Title Representative Body (NTRB), or a Native Title Service Provider (NTSP), or any other organisation that involves dealing with Indigenous people and issues requires an understanding of how local Indigenous people interact, how they evaluate people, situations and events, what issues are important to them, and many other aspects of their ways of seeing the world. These are all part of culture. There is no single Indigenous culture in Australia, and no individual is entirely determined by their culture. There are many different ways of being Indigenous, and individuals' thoughts and actions are constantly influenced by many complex factors. Aboriginal societies throughout Australia do share many features of culture, and these often reflect continuities from the times before European invasion and settlement. Some of these features are recognised quite widely in non-Indigenous Australia in the twenty-first century - for example, the widespread Aboriginal taboo on saying the name of a recently deceased person. Other features, while also widespread, are much less recognised in non-Indigenous Australia, but they can have considerable importance in intercultural communication - for example, the frequent productive use of silence in Aboriginal interactions. In a similar way there are many shared features of culture among Torres Strait Island societies, whether in the islands or on the mainland. Torres Strait Island societies have many differences from Aboriginal societies, as well as some shared features. Given my lack of experience and knowledge about Torres Strait Island culture and communication, and the limited literature on this topic, this contribution deals mainly with Aboriginal culture, and with intercultural communication between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Non-Indigenous readers working with Torres Strait Islanders might use this paper as a point of departure for sharpening your sensitivity to areas of possible cultural difference. Remember too that many Torres Strait Islanders who now live in mainland cities and towns may to some extent be using Aboriginal ways of communicating, because of prolonged contact and intermarriage with Aboriginal people, and the degree of shared identification as fellow Indigenous people.