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For families with child protection histories and complex issues, engagement is more challenging and may require more time and resources to deliver (Price-Robertson & McDonald, 2011; Sheather, 2009, as cited in Lohoar, 2012). Trust and respect “The history of colonisation has resulted in generations of disempowerment. Present-day actions in service delivery can continue to feed mistrust and disempowerment.”(Sims, 2011: 11) One of the most reported aspects of successful engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is the importance of building relationships based on trust and respect (Hunt, 2013a). Bennet, Zubrzycki & Bacon (2011) interviewed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social workers about their practice working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. The authors propose a practice framework for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities consisting of the four core areas of knowledge, skills, values and self, all of which contribute to culturally respectful relationships. They argue that relationship-building must take place from the very beginning, with social workers introducing themselves as a person first, and a worker second. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff this means discussing Country and a willingness to share aspects of their own culture. The authors also point out that it is important to ask clients if they are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or Torres Strait Island descent. This helps to break down the stereotyping of Aboriginality (such as appearance) and leads the way for cultural respect. Good relationships are based on reciprocity. Herring, Spangaro, Lauw & McNamara (2013) argue the importance of offering practical support, such as training or volunteering at celebration days. The authors point out that “giving before asking is important to communities from which much has been asked and taken” (p.114). Part of a reciprocal relationship is purposeful and respectful listening, allowing people to tell their stories (Bennet, Zubrzycki & Bacon, 2011). Bennet, Zubrzycki & Bacon (2011) give practical examples of respectful practice, such as going to places where the client feels comfortable, or giving people a choice of worker (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or non-Aboriginal). There are other strategies that can help to gain participant trust. Community role models such as Elders, and other strong and resilient parents, can model and discuss parenting issues (Borg & Paul, 2004). Involving Elders can increase service acceptance (Turner & Sanders, 2007). It is acknowledged in the research that a substantial amount of time is required early on, to gain participant trust before they commit to involvement (eg Scougall, 2008). This includes creating an environment where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can feel safe (Scougall, 2008). Long timeframes allow services to set up collaborative approaches and train
5 non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff appropriately (see Lohoar, 2012). Long