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.

2016 Aboriginal Health Worker Guidelines Workshops

The Aboriginal Health Worker Guidelines for NSW Health provide a framework for defining, implementing and supporting Aboriginal Health Worker roles in NSW.

The Aboriginal Workforce Unit (AWU) has identified a method to better promote and socialise the Guidelines across NSW among a specific target audience. AWU are promoting the Guidelines and have engaged external consultants to facilitate Guidelines Workshops across all NSW Health organisations in partnership with the local Manager Aboriginal Workforce Development (MAWD) where available.

The Guidelines workshop objectives are for selected staff:

  • to gain knowledge and an improved understanding of the Guidelines and the scopes of practice for the five Aboriginal Health Worker Workforce models
  • to become cognisant of the difference between Aboriginal Health Worker and Aboriginal Health Practitioner roles;
  • to have an improved understanding of the Guidelines so that informed local decisions can be made to recruit Aboriginal Health Workers in clinical and non-clinical.

The workshop objectives are also for managers and senior human resources staff to apply the Guidelines role design process to implement Aboriginal Health Practitioners if required. Workshops commenced on 22 July 2016 in Nepean Blue Mountains LHD and were facilitated until mid November 2016.

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.

2015 Good Health Great Jobs Stepping Up Forum

The inaugural 2015 Good Health — Great Jobs Stepping Up Forum reaffirmed NSW Health's commitment to 'Closing the Gap' in health outcomes for Aboriginal people. The Forum was well attended and will now become a regular event in the Aboriginal workforce calendar.

Presentations from the Forum are available on The Hotel Network.

Evaluation results from the Forum have been collated into a Communique and sent to all delegates.

Four figures stepping towards a sunrise ​

Current as at: Friday 16 December 2022
Contact page owner: Aboriginal Workforce