First Nations Identity Strain and Cultural Load at Work

Event speakers photos

Cultural load is a term to describe the (often invisible) load borne by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the workplace, where they are either the only person or one of a small number of people from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. This creates additional workload associated with things like being consistently expected to respond to all things relating to that community and speak on behalf of all its people. It can mean frequently having to provide information, knowledge, education and support on First Nations issues, topics and days of significance – often without any formally agreed reduction or alteration to, or acknowledgement of, a person’s current workload.

As we approach the referendum on the Voice to Parliament, it’s particularly important that Australian workplaces recognise the load on their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and provide support.

At this event, Professor Peter Anderson, Director Indigenous Research Unit at Griffith University, led a conversation with our special guest panel considering identity strain and cultural load.

Guest speakers were:

  1. Jason Timor, Director, Stonecrab,
  2. Tanya Denning-Orman, Director of Indigenous Content, SBS, and  
  3. Dr Clinton Schultz, Director First Nations Strategy and Partnerships, Black Dog Institute.

The panel discussed:

  • How to provide flexible work options, regular check-ins and access to EAP/Indigenous Counsellors to support the mental health of First Nations employees,
  • How to provide a safe space, call out racism, and filter enquiries before they reach First Nations employees,
  • How to build First Nations cultural capability and fitness for all staff,
  • What an organisation’s cultural continuum looks like and how to facilitate continuous cultural learning.

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