For Reconciliation Week 2019, Yooralla’s Service Manager Michael J. Evans has contributed several insightful articles. Today’s article is about Family and Kinship.
Michael is a proud Indigenous man, with lifelong disabilities, identifies as a Torres Strait Islander and uses a wheelchair for mobility.
The Aboriginal family system is unique and not well understood by many people working in government. Membership is not limited to parents and children living in the one household, but includes a complex network of extended family, living in several households and geographic locations.
For instance, explaining a service or program to a member of an Aboriginal family may mean speaking to many members of the extended family. Often a number of extended family and community members participate in the same gathering, meeting or information session, ensuring that the information and decision-making rests with the people who have authority and responsibility within the family
It is important to recognise that not all children belong to a ‘traditional family’. Recognise and accept non-traditional family structures e.g. de facto, single parents, blended families.
Some Aboriginal children do not actually live with their biological parent but with a member of their extended family like a nanna or aunty.
Note: Aboriginal people refer to their Elders as Aunty or Uncle; Non-Aboriginal people should seek permission to use these terms. Advice or permission can be sought from a member of the Aboriginal community, an Aboriginal colleague or the Elder themselves.
Michael J. Evans
(pride in self)
About the Author
Michael is recognised as an Elder in many Aboriginal communities across western NSW and has over 20 years of experience as a formal mentor to Aboriginal leaders working in identified management positions in the NSW public service. Michael has over 30 years of experience as a wheelchair user and has provided formal advocacy and informal mentoring for persons with disabilities for over 50 years.
Michael has over 40 years of experience in senior and middle management roles including over 17 years employment with the NSW public service where he held senior positions such as Director Disability & Home Care Services in western NSW and over 15 years employment with Telstra where he held management positions such as Manager Corporate Services in regional Victoria.