This project will improve our understanding of the causes of, and contributing factors to, cultural conflict and load for First Nations staff and volunteers within NHRA partner organisations (i.e. emergency management and disaster resilience organisations), particularly the causes that are industry-specific.
This project was proposed by AFAC and is an action from Natural Hazards Research Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan.
First Nations peoples employed within the sector, particularly those within the fire and land management agencies, may experience conflict between what they know is culturally right for their Country and communities, and the agendas of agencies. Western science and practices see humans as separate to the landscape, and the aim is to control and manage. First Nations cultures view healthy landscapes as intricately entwined with healthy people - care is provided to Country and is received in return. Trying to work within both these paradigms, without the appropriate cultural support, can be immensely stressful for First Nations peoples and can put them at odds with their families and communities and their obligations to Country. It can also put them at odds with their work colleagues, making their employment a lonely experience.
First Nations peoples who do remain in the sector (including academics and agency staff) often carry a heavy workload in order to provide the relevant and appropriate Indigenous expertise for their organisation and the partners they work with. Without support, this can result in negative impacts such as burnout, stress and other mental health concerns.
This project will help us better understand the causes and contributing factors, particularly those which are industry specific, creating cultural conflict and load for First Nations staff and volunteers within NHRA partner organisations.
It is anticipated this will involve both reviewing existing data and undertaking new qualitative and quantitative research to understand the lived experience of First Nations peoples who currently or have previously worked in the sector.
The research will support the identification of systemic and behavioural drivers of cultural load and cultural conflict for First Nations staff and volunteers within the industry, and assist with the participatory testing and development of activities to address these drivers.
Phase 1 (12-18 months) will provide insight into the experiences and impacts of cultural load and conflict, and suggested interventions
Phase 2 (2-2.5 years) will take a longitudinal approach, working with partner agencies to trial and implement research informed recommendations from Phase 1 as discrete case studies. This will enable the participatory building and evaluation of new initiatives by and with, First Nations staff and volunteers.