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What are the Practice Principles?

A reconciled Australia is one where rights and opportunities are guaranteed for everybody. Yet Australia has a long history of failure in working to alleviate disadvantage faced by First Nations peoples. This systemic racism has prevented First Nations people and communities from having the chance to thrive.

SVA is not a First Nations organisation. However, throughout our 20 years we have worked with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups making a difference in our communities, and building connections to country and culture.

This work has been guided by the many First Nations-led frameworks that provide standards of best practice when working for and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Over the years we have researched and adopted these to define what best practice means for us. The result is our First Nations Practice Principles.

Illustration of the 5 principles: Self determination, Recognise diversity, Respectful relationships, Real partnership, and Trauma aware.


Support First Nations peoples’ right to control over their lives


Recognise diversity

Respect and value First Nations diverse culture and history

  • Understand and value the diversity and uniqueness of First Nations peoples, cultures, histories and perspectives
  • Respectfully incorporate these elements into our work
  • Acknowledge that First Nations peoples are experts in their own lives: no work should be conducted about First Nations peoples, without First Nations peoples
Recognise diversity

Respectful relationships

Work respectfully and authentically with First Nations peoples

  • Meaningfully engage to ensure First Nations priorities, values, perspectives and voices inform our work
  • Gain free, prior and informed consent for our work
  • Provide sufficient time for engagement
  • Be respectful of local cultural protocols
Respectful relationships

Real partnership

Create reciprocal value and learning for First Nations partners

  • Be accountable for the impacts our work has on First Nations peoples and communities
  • Be upfront about potential benefits and unintended consequences
  • Address community needs
  • Recognise skills and experience
  • Ensure the benefits we deliver outweigh our expectations of participation
Real partnership

Trauma aware

Support strength and capability through trauma-informed practice

  • Recognise the trauma experienced by First Nations people due to colonisation and use appropriate, trauma-informed practices
  • Minimise risk of re-traumatisation of First Nations peoples through our work.
  • Embed cultural safety by providing positive and emotionally safe experiences
  • Implement culturally-specific practices
Trauma aware

Contact our First Nations Practice Lead to learn more

Meet the artist

Richard Seden is the founding director of Saltwater People. Richard has worked as an Indigenous Health Practitioner and Wellbeing Counsellor across Central Australia, Cape York, Larrakia Country and North East Arnhem Land for over 25 years.

Richard is now focussed on further developing his own cultural arts practice as a way to learn more about his ancestral connections. Richard has family connections to the Torres Strait (Kaurareg/Dhoeybaw) – and the Coen (Kaantju) and Shelbourne Bay (Wuthati) communities of Cape York.

SVA was proud to work with Saltwater People to develop the artworks representing our Practice Principles.

Meet the artist