We recently wrote that a better tomorrow requires change today. And we mean it. As a part of our journey towards becoming a digital government, we’re seeking the expertise of influencers and thought-leaders from many fields. We asked Dave Goddard of Walk Together to talk to us about inclusivity, which is a pillar of our approach to co-designing a better future. The learnings Goddard shared with us will be of interest to anyone looking to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations or communities.

When bringing two parties together, Goddard says you must find a ‘between world’ where there are mutual outcomes, systems and processes, values and purpose. Finding mutual ways forward will deliver shared responsibility for sustainable outcomes without sacrificing cultural values. He explains in more detail below.

 

Walking together

I presented the Walk Together International design on 29 October to the Digital Government Policy & Innovation Branch in Sydney. Its purpose was to focus attention on ways to better connect and work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. But Walk Together is a viable design for intra and inter-organisational, religious as well as cultural difference defined by race.

Walk Together has two aspects: a structure and a process. The Structure has three components:

  • a philosophy
  • a pathway
  • two tools for guiding, monitoring and review.

Let’s look at each aspect and its components to better connect with and understand them.

Structure: The Philosophy

At Walk Together, we acknowledge that each party will have their own ways, purpose, values, processes and outcomes. The trick is to find an intercultural space or “Between World” where mutual ground is found for each of these five areas. First Australians learned to move fluidly from their cultures to the Between World and back to make sense of what the governing or controlling culture expected of them. Many non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know nothing of, nor have never visited, the Between World. Their view of the world is unidimensional; their way, and they expect that people from other cultures will, or must, live as they do.

The major focus of Walk Together is to enable people from different cultures to meet, build relationships and discuss or negotiate as equals. Using Walk Together enables people to learn a unique capacity; to step into and work in the Between World without sacrificing cultural values.

Structure: Guidance, Monitoring and Review

The following lists are a way of assessing what to do, and, as it occurs, how we progress towards the desired vision and outcomes.

Monitoring: The Seven Ss

1. Small: Start small and grow

2. Strengths: work with strong, interested, committed people and ideas

3. Success: start with things that are working

4. Speed: work at a pace that keeps everyone involved

5. Sustainable: have resources and commitment before you start

6. Simultaneous: work with all people all the time

7. Scrutinize: monitor and review from the outset.

Principles

1. Community initiated

2. Sustainable

3. Partnerships

4. Learning by doing

5. Two way

6. Monitoring

7. Networking

 

The Process: Overview

Facilitation is the fundamental process and method to use Walk Together in all phases, and to achieve each objective. 

When facilitating in a Between World with a government agency and an Indigenous community group, both sets of needs must be kept in mind. Monitoring: The Seven Ss illustrated above can be a useful tool because it suggests progress can take time and needs careful, extended planning.

The Process: a little about facilitation

Below is an example of one of our facilitation agendas, which caters for different cultural ways of working (doing business) between non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, doing business is transactional: meet, do the business, and if what is discussed sounds good, a relationship is formed. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, it’s relational: meet, create a relationship, then do the business as partners. The facilitation agenda caters for the needs of both cultures.:

Facilitator:

  • no vested interest in outcomes

Introduction:

  • Acknowledgement and overview (stay to times given)
  • Connecting: self, group, purpose
  • Final decision on purpose

Agenda: Tools

  • Grouping (individual, pairing, fours, whole group)
  • Constant feedback
  • Recording, none rejected
  • Decisions via Tick/Dot
  • Return questions/idea to whole group to debate

Sum-up:

  • feedback: single word, hand level…

Summary

The process to achieve systemic change within, or between, races and organisations, (particularly organizations dealing with different cultures) requires new or different ways of working.

For many decades, much effort has been devoted by governments and not-for-profits in Australia to alleviate and ultimately eradicate the inequalities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We at Walk Together International Design focus on equity rather than equality. Equity requires partnering with First Australians with the goal of their taking authority, responsibility and accountability for the future of each one’s language group in Australia.

 

Join the conversation