Increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competence in national, state and territory libraries is one of our major focuses in 2019-2020. An update on the Cultural Learning Project and related strategies and activities is outlined below.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Learning Project
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Learning Project (CLP) is part of a national effort to provide culturally safe public spaces and services in libraries for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and a supportive workplace for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff where they are able to confidently draw strength in their identity, culture and community. It is a long-term commitment from all NSLA libraries, comprising a number of elements.
Core Cultural Learning
Following a successful pilot in all NSLA libraries in the first half of 2019, the online Core Cultural Learning program developed by AIATSIS will be completed in 2019-2021 by all staff in NSLA libraries, as a practical commitment to respectful interactions and collaborations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families, community groups and organisations.
In 2020, staff working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection materials will participate in training to embed the ATSILIRN Protocols, which focus on culturally informed approaches to collection management, description, access and use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection materials.
Indigenous cultural competency principles for NSLA libraries
Sitting alongside the ATSILIRN Protocols, these shared Indigenous cultural competency principles have been developed to support NSLA libraries to develop practical and sustainable Indigenous cultural competency strategies appropriate to their community context and workforce requirements.
Library-specific and local-specific strategies
Each NSLA library will review their policies and procedures, monitoring mechanisms and allocation of resources to foster culturally competent behaviour and practice at all levels of the institution. For example: applying the ATSILIRN protocols, developing a reconciliation action plan, establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander reference group or developing a workforce engagement strategy. Additionally, it is proposed that training addressing local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories be part of regular workforce development in each library and be provided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and individuals.
Blakforce - NSLA's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff network
An opt-in network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff has been established, with the representatives from most NSLA libraries meeting in person for the first time in Brisbane last week. Hosted by the State Library of Queensland's (SLQ) kuril dhagan community space, it was an opportunity for staff working in diverse areas and at all levels to come together and discuss shared interests and concerns. SLQ board member and noted author and social commentator Anita Heiss (back row, far right in the photo above) welcomed the group.
Adopting the name NSLA Blakforce (short for Blak Workforce), participants are considering how they would like the network to operate in the future; it is envisaged as a member-led group, beyond the formal boundaries of NSLA's other communities of practice.
AIATSIS National Indigenous Research Conference
NSLA's Executive Officer Barbara Lemon and CLP Project Officer Lesley Acres (profile below) will present on the CLP as part of the Research Grounded in Cultural Collections session at the AIATSIS National Indigenous Research Conference in Brisbane next week. The presentation will reflect on evaluation results from the pilot round of Core Cultural Learning in NSLA libraries, including what they tell us about the assumptions and experiences of our colleagues, and outline programs already in place in NSLA libraries to assist researchers working with Indigenous collections, looking at how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.