Supporting the survival, dignity and wellbeing of Our People

Cultural awareness, safety and the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Cultural awareness and cultural safety

The documentary film, Returning our Ancestors, promotes cultural awareness. In doing so, we ask that our People are provided culturally safe environments in which to live and thrive. In our workplaces, schools and communities it is essential that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, and their embodiment of the oldest living Culture on earth, is respected.

There are some key ways that, in viewing the film, sensitivity to this distressing subject matter is facilitated.

  • Invite Traditional Owners to participate in the screenings. Please recognise however that this film is not like others for our People, it is about our great grandparents and great, great grandparents being stolen from their graves and put on display in museums and living rooms. Grief of the removal of Ancestors from Country is actively felt by some community members and should be respected as both real and ongoing.
  • Acknowledgements of Country should be undertaken to respect Traditional Owners and acknowledge their fundamental responsibility as custodians of the land we now live on.

Cultural awareness starts with reflecting how our own beliefs, values and behaviours impact upon the safety of others. We hope that, through this film, a deeper understanding of Aboriginal Peoples responsibilities will be enabled. We encourage all Victorian to take this understanding and share it with your communities as one of the many steps we all take in ensuring we treat each other with compassion, appreciation and respect.

There are also some excellent resources available for formalising the implementation of Cultural Safety frameworks within your workplace.

United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council calls for all Victorians to affirm that:

Indigenous Peoples are equal to all other peoples, while recognising the right of all peoples to be different, to consider themselves different, and to be respected as such.

We ask that each of us recognise in ourselves, our workplaces and our institutions, that Indigenous Peoples have the Right to:

  • Self-determination
  • Self-government in matters relating to their internal affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.
  • Not be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
  • Not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories.
  • Practise and revitalise their cultural traditions and customs.
  • Manifest, practise, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies.
  • Maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites.
  • The use and control of their ceremonial objects.
  • The repatriation of their human remains.
  • Revitalise, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures.
  • Designate and retain their own names for communities, places and person.
  • Participate in decision-making through representatives chosen by themselves, in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to their own decision-making institutions.
  • Maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources.
  • Maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.
  • The manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts.

Information for Teachers

We are mindful of the emotional, spiritual and psychological wellbeing of our young People when watching and discussing Returning our Ancestors. It is essential that they receive the support of their family and community to sit with their fellow students and discuss this resource.

Our full recommendations for teachers on our Teachers page.