'Hear our stories': Child-rearing practices of a remote Australian Aboriginal community

Lyn Byers, Selina Kulitja, Anne Lowell, Sue Kruske

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective: Little is known about Australian Aboriginal world views related to child rearing and child development. The aim of this qualitative study was to provide an opportunity for remote Aboriginal families in Central Australia to share what they felt was important for non-Aboriginal people, working in the same setting, to know about their parenting methods.

    Design, setting and participants: A descriptive study was carried out in a remote Central Australian community by an Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researcher, working in partnership, combining ethnographic and participatory approaches. Eight families with children under five were primary participants. Data were collected through participant observation and informal conversational interviews.

    Findings: Three main interlinked themes were identified through this research: 'fitting in' (integration of children into community life), 'growing up' (children's development) and 'staying strong' (children's autonomy within a communal social structure). In this community, the development of independence and self-reliance within a closely nurturing environment are paramount. Children are taught responsibilities and obligations through interaction in community life from birth. Children's growth and development is not linked to chronological time scales. Rather, children are encouraged and praised for their social and emotional maturity as well as physical development, regardless of the age at which milestones are achieved.

    Conclusions: This descriptive study provided an opportunity for Aboriginal people in one remote community to share their perspectives about child rearing and child development. It provides some insights into positive child-rearing practices and perspectives which can assist non-Aboriginal service providers to work more effectively with Aboriginal families.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)293-297
    Number of pages5
    JournalAustralian Journal of Rural Health
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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