Cultural Orientation and Working Rural/Remote

On this page you’ll find guides and resources to support your orientation to Aboriginal cultures and communities, and working in the Territory’s rural and remote settings.

The Remote AOD Workforce Program developed this website to assist with the professional development of Remote AOD Workers in the Northern Territory. However, no matter whether you are a very experienced and qualified health worker or new to the AOD area, or you are Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal, Territorian or non-Territorian, the resources in this website can help support you in your professional and personal orientation to your workplace. This website can be used by any practitioner to enhance your professional development and your clinical practice when working remote or with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Aboriginal Medical Services Orientation Checklist

Department of Health Orientation Checklist

Department of Health, Primary Health Care Manager Orientation Checklist

Remote AOD Workforce Program Orientation Evaluation Form

Each section in this website addresses a focus area of your work, such as direct client work and community development activities. We hope that getting familiar with the information contained in this website will help you:

  • feel confident that you’re staying up-to-date with the best information that’s out there about what works in the AOD field and in Aboriginal community settings, and also the current best practice guidelines ;
  • feel ready to comfortably share ideas and perspectives with your co-workers, AOD colleagues , and supervisors about your work, knowing that you all have a shared knowledge base and vocabulary you can refer back to;
  • feel equipped to give important and valuable feedback to the Remote Workforce Program Support Unit about what’s helpful, what’s not, what needs to be changed and what’s missing from this website.

Read through and familiarise yourself with these resources at your own pace. You might find it useful to keep notes on information that seems important or strikes a chord for you, in a private notebook or professional development reflection journal, or just make notes on a hard copy of these materials. You may also find it useful to come back to and review these materials from time to time.

Community Development Framework, Remote AOD WOrkforce Program (2013).

This framework contains cultural information and guidance for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal workers working within your own community or for those of you who are working in remote communities that are not your local area.

Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) (2009). Cultural Orientation Handbook. Darwin: RAHC.
This is a key Northern Territory-focused guide for cultural orientation and working in remote settings which is useful for all health workers.

WA Country Health Services online “Cultural Orientation Plan for Health Professionals working in Aboriginal Health”
This free online self-paced course takes about 2.5 hours to work through. You just need to register your details online, and this will give you access to the following PDF resource, which you can work through in your own time.

The SARRAH Remote and Rural Transition Toolkit is available at the SARRAH Education and Training Website. It’s designed to support allied health professional as they enter remote and rural practice:

This toolkit has short (up to 20 minutes) online learning modules focused on key issues in remote and rural practice which you can work through. They include:
•    Self Care 
•    Confidentiality & Professional Boundaries
•    Cultural Safety
•    Translating Evidence Based Practice
•    Introduction to Primary Health Care

AMHFA (2008). Cultural considerations and communication techniques: Guidelines for providing mental health first aid. Melbourne: Orygen Research Centre, University of Melbourne.
Available Here

11 Principles for Working Effectively with Australian Indigenous Communities
excerpted from Chapter 2, Cultural Perspectives, in Smith, J.D. (2007). Australia’s Rural and Remote Health: A Social Justice Perspective. 2nd edition. Melbourne: Tertiary Press.
This handout is part of the cultural safety module in SARRAH Remote and Rural Transition Tool Kit (see Item 3 above) Available Here

Victims Services, Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG) (2008). Principles in best practice for counselling Indigenous clients. NSW: Victims Services, DJAG.
This one page leaflet provides some helpful tips for counselling practice with Indigenous clients. Available Here



Katherine West Health Board 2010 Working together

The staff of Katherine West Health Board have made a very helpful and easy to watch orientation film for prospective and new workers with their health service. This film is available online at the KWHB web site and also on Youtube, in three parts.

You can watch it on Youtube at

Because new research and improved AOD information and guidelines are always being released, this website is designed so it can be updated and improved regularly and easily. Whenever you come across any new resources that you think should be included, please let us know by dropping a quick email to: