Lateral Violence

In 2019, NSW Health asked the Sax Institute to conduct an "Evidence Check rapid review" on Lateral Violence. A report was provided by Peter Lewis and Richard Frankland as brokered by Sax (An Evidence Check rapid review brokered by the Sax Institute for the NSW Ministry of Health [May 2019]). A summary of the three core questions and their findings is below.

What is lateral violence?

When oppression is experienced, in this context through colonial processes, it can be internalised within the group of affected peoples (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this case) and appear as harmful behaviours between group members. The behaviours of lateral violence can look like: gossip, exclusion and bullying, to undermine, hurt or cause social, emotional or cultural harm to another person, usually as an attempt to regain 'lost power' in the colonial system, such an example might be someone going out in community telling stories about an individual and denying their Aboriginality. You may be interested in reading more details as published by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

How does lateral violence affect the NSW Aboriginal health workforce?

Psychological and physical symptoms of bullying and harassment are consistent in cases of lateral violence, which extend to causing harmful effects in the workplace on performance. The cultural impacts of lateral violence are harder for non-Aboriginal people to unpick, but are indicative of the significant harm felt by the person being targeted. The cultural impacts on individual's may include:  identity confusion, identity disassociation, or exclusion.

Deep impacts on individuals may be expressed through self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, or in violent or argumentative behaviours either at home, in the community or in the workplace.

How can lateral violence be addressed by NSW Health?

  • Raise awareness.
  • Create or include lateral violence information in policies and processes.
  • Engage in wellbeing programs in the pursuit of healing to directly address lateral violence and its impacts.

In short, NSW Health must: 

  • become more culturally competent in its understanding of the issues affecting the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and
  • engage in programs which develop the cultural safety of its services and its workforce to address the work health and safety factors affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff members (Our Aboriginal Program; SafeWork NSW, undated).

Equal Employment Opportunity data

NSW Health regularly collects and reports de-identified data about the diversity elements of its workforce, against the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) demographic profile.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff members are encouraged to check their status is correct in StaffLink.

The Fact sheet: Updating Aboriginal EEO status in Stafflink supports staff members' knowledge and understanding of the steps to check and / or update their information.

Stepping Up - The New Aboriginal Recruitment Resource for NSW Health

Stepping Up is NSW Health’s recruitment resource for Aboriginal people. It aims to assist Aboriginal job applicants understand how to apply for roles in NSW Health, and hiring managers to more effectively structure the recruitment to roles within NSW Health.

Stepping Up provides practical information and tips on NSW Health’s recruitment process, including:

  • where to look for jobs within NSW Health
  • how to put together applications and address selection criteria
  • the assessment process
  • supporting documentation requirements such as the information needed for Aboriginal identified and targeted positions
  • contacts for advice and assistance with recruitment.

The resource supports the NSW Ministry of Health’s commitment to growing the Aboriginal workforce across the public health sector and also offers information on career opportunities in health and advice to new starters to ease the transition to NSW Health.

Visit the new website at Stepping Up and send your feedback and comments to the Aboriginal Workforce Unit.

Four figures stepping towards a sunrise ​

Current as at: Tuesday 23 April 2024
Contact page owner: Aboriginal Workforce