The Aboriginal gender study: final report

A research report prepared by the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia Ltd.
Aboriginal Australians customs Gender equity Indigenous health LGBTI Cultural awareness Australia South Australia

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, programs and policies that support respectful relationships, the foundation of gender equity, have the potential to enhance connections to family, community and culture, and therefore improve the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities. However, few studies have examined how gender and specifically, gender equity, are conceptualised and understood in a contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander context. The Aboriginal Gender Study addresses this gap by examining gender concepts and experiences from Aboriginal points of view, to understand how gender equity could be advanced within a strong cultural framework.

Key Findings:

  • In general, we found existing health and social policies concerning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples do not adequately consider gender-specific vulnerabilities and consequences. Further, none were cognisant that the experiences of Aboriginal women and men reflect a unique combination of racialised and gendered interactions.
  • Among the LGBTQ groups, gender was particularly framed around power differentials, and the constraints LGBTQ individuals felt forging an identity outside of Western and Aboriginal social norms.
  • Experiences of racism were commonly reported by participants and these were gendered, reflected in stereotypes regarding men and women as well as episodes of transphobia and homophobia within and outside of the community.
  • Participants consistently identified that gender was intertwined with culture, the foundation of Aboriginal identity. Across each site, participants expressed that while men and women were both carriers of culture and cultural knowledge, they did so in different domains and practices that, in many ways, were independent and also interdependent, of each other.

This project was designed with an Aboriginal research methodology which centralised and valued Aboriginal people as experts in their own lives, and acknowledged the diversity of Aboriginal communities and cultures. This approach provided a safe space for participants to voice their experiences using culturally safe methods and tools, including community engagement and yarning as a communication style.


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