National practice standards for the mental health workforce 2013

Standard 4: Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities

Page last updated: November 2013

By working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, families and communities, mental health practitioners actively and respectfully reduce barriers to access, provide culturally secure systems of care, and improve social and emotional wellbeing.

The mental health practitioner:

  1. Develops an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, and particularly the impact of colonisation on present day grief, loss and trauma and its complexity
  2. Communicates in a culturally sensitive and respectful way, being aware of potential mistrust of government and other service providers as a result of past history
  3. Uses culturally sensitive language and preferred terminology in line with current policy directives
  4. Implements culturally specific practices as described in relevant national, state and local guidelines, policies and frameworks that pertain to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  5. Respectfully collects and records information identifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status in line with current policy directives
  6. Works in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural advisors where appropriate regarding appropriate care and engages meaningfully to develop culturally appropriate care in collaboration with these support networks
  7. Seeks to understand and work within local cultural protocols and kinship structures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
  8. Respectfully follows Indigenous protocols in community contexts, such as the process of vouching in which one or some of the community members attest to the person wishing to enter the community