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Glossary of terms

Terms used in the Nargneit Birrang vision.


In the vision, it is acknowledged that “individual” refers to women, children, men, Elders, victim, survivor, person who uses violence, LGBTIQA+, person of disability, be a member of the stolen generations, experience (currently in the past) out of home care as a child or youth, be living off Country, be a service provided worker, non-Aboriginal (parent/extended family) of Aboriginal child, partner of an Aboriginal person, carer of Aboriginal child), encountered trauma (physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, material, financial, structural) that is trans-generation, inter-generational lateral and/or vicarious violence/trauma.


“Family is the cornerstone of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, spirituality and identity. Family is often more broadly defined within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture than within white culture. Those involved in children’s lives, and helping to raise them, commonly include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews and members of the community are considered to be family...” SNAICC – Supporting carers, connection to family (2018).


Physically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and culturally safe.


Healthy, happy, resilient, empowered, respected, strong, culturally safe, connected.


Design with and for Aboriginal people, involve community in decision making, support for an Aboriginal workforce, people’s rights are upheld, communities are involved in flexible funding, evaluation approaches are defined.

Cultural safety

Cultural safety is 'an environment that is safe for people: where there is no assault, challenge or denial of their identity, of who they are and what they need. It is about shared respect, shared meaning, shared knowledge and experience, of learning, living and working together with dignity and truly listening.' There are two elements to cultural safety. The first requires 'environments of cultural resilience within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities', while the second requires 'cultural competency by those who engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.'

In the Dhelk Dja context, this means creating and maintaining private, public and community spaces where Aboriginal people feel safe, secure and supported to be themselves and to participate in Aboriginal Cultural events, and where non-Aboriginal people appreciate and celebrate the strengths of Aboriginal Culture and peoples.

Family violence

Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way – Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families defines family violence as ‘An issue focused around a wide range of physical, emotional, sexual, social, spiritual, cultural, psychological and economic abuses that occur within families, intimate relationships, extended families, kinship networks and communities. It extends to one-on-one fighting, abuse of Indigenous community workers as well as self-harm, injury and suicide’.

  • Physical abuse – assaulting or causing personal injury to a family member or threatening to do so.
  • Sexual abuse – sexually assaulting a family member or engaging in another form of sexually coercive behaviour or threatening to engage in such behaviour.
  • Emotional abuse – any behaviour towards another person that torments, intimidates, harasses or is offensive to the other person.
  • Social abuse – preventing a person from making or keeping connections with the person’s family, friends or culture, including cultural or spiritual ceremonies or practices, or preventing the person from expressing the person’s cultural identity.
  • Spiritual abuse – includes behaviour such as, but not limited to, preventing a person from practicing their own spiritual or religious beliefs or practices, forcing someone to participate in spiritual or religious activities they don’t want to participate in, or forcing someone to raise their children according to spiritual beliefs they don’t believe in.
  • Cultural abuse – in the Dhelk Dja context, cultural abuse relates closely to cultural safety, and includes, but is not limited to, behaviour that prevents a person from acting in accordance with their cultural beliefs, forces them to act in a way that doesn’t align to their culture, or makes them feel shameful, embarrassed, or unsafe to participate in cultural activities.
  • Psychological abuse – see emotional abuse.
  • Economic abuse – behaviour that is coercive, deceptive or unreasonably controlling in a way that denies economic or financial autonomy, or by withholding the financial support necessary for meeting another’s reasonable living expenses.
  • Elder abuse – Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust, usually a family member. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological and/or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect. In a Dhelk Dja context, elder abuse recognises abuse against older Aboriginal people and Aboriginal Elders.
  • Gender is part of a person’s personal and social identity. It refers to the way a person feels, presents and is recognised within the community. A person’s gender may be reflected in outward social markers, including their name, outward appearance, mannerisms and dress.
  • A Gender informed approach recognises that better outcomes and equality will be achieved if policies, programs and service delivery models are responsive to the needs of people of all genders, including women, men, non-binary, trans and gender diverse people. In a family violence context, a gender informed approach recognises that violence and trauma are shaped by gender stereotypes and inequities including gender related factors such as roles, relationships, attitudes, power imbalances and identities, and that services need to be inclusive and tailored to individual needs. Dhelk Dja acknowledges the disproportionate impacts of family violence on women and children. It also recognises that family violence prevention and response must be inclusive of the entire community, regardless of their gender identity, and in a way that acknowledges and celebrates gender diversity.
  • Holistic healing encompasses the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of not only the individual, but the wider community thereby bringing about the total wellbeing of Community. Holistic healing in Aboriginal communities adopts a perspective that combines both cultural determinants and social determinants of health, wellbeing and safety, and acknowledges and incorporates the historical trauma present for many Aboriginal people.
  • Lateral violence refers to violence that is perpetrated by Aboriginal community members, against other Aboriginal community members. It includes a range of violent or harmful behaviours including, gossiping, jealousy, bullying, shaming, social exclusion, family feuding, organisational conflict and physical violence, among others.


  • Lesbian: refers to a woman who is romantically and sexually attracted to other women.
  • Gay: refers to someone who is romantically and sexually attracted to people of the same gender identity as themselves. It is usually used to refer to men who are attracted to other men but may also be used by women.
  • Bisexual: refers to a person who is romantically and sexually attracted to individuals of their own gender and other genders.
  • Trauma: refers to experiences of, and reactions to particularly intensive life events, including threats (real or perceived) that can overwhelm a person’s ability to cope and have long-term impacts on their mental health. A person may respond with intense fear, helplessness or horror. These can include sexual abuse (including institutional abuse), experience of violence and tragic/unexpected events and loss (including as a result of suicide, accidents, illness). For Aboriginal people this trauma is predominantly the result of colonisation and past government policies.
  • Trauma informed: is a strengths-based service delivery approach that is grounded in an understanding of, and responsiveness to, the impact of trauma, that emphasises physical, psychological and emotional safety for both providers and survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment. In the Dhelk Dja context, the acknowledgement of historical and intergenerational trauma is vital for healing. The Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum acknowledges that only with true trauma-informed healing that incorporates historical trauma, can true healing take place.
  • Strengths-based: A strengths-based framework recognises and respects the strengths of an individual and the knowledge gained through lived experience. It works to identify the diverse strengths that individuals and communities bring to a situation and works in collaboration to foster these strengths and build upon them to address challenges.
  • Whole of community response: A whole of community response recognises that family violence impacts everyone in the community, and that everyone needs to be involved in efforts to prevent and respond to family violence.
  • Whole of system response: A whole of system response recognises that the cycle of family violence brings people into contact with many different parts of the service system, and efforts to reduce violence and improve outcomes must work across family violence services; police, justice system and the courts; housing and homelessness services; children and family services; child protection and out-of-home care; and health, mental health and human services.
  • Trans and gender diverse: Transgender refer to a person whose gender identity, gender expression or behaviour does not align with their sex assigned at birth (as opposed to cisgender: people whose gender identity is in line with the social expectations of their sex assigned at birth). Gender diverse refers to people who do not identify as a woman or a man.
  • Intersex: Intersex people have reproductive organs, chromosomes or other physical sex characteristics that are neither wholly female nor wholly male. Intersex is a description of biological diversity and may or may not be the identity used by an intersex person.
  • Queer: an umbrella term used by some people to describe non-conforming gender identities and sexual orientation.
  • Asexual: refers to someone who does not experience sexual attraction. They may still experience feelings of affection towards another person.
  • + other diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.