Aboriginal Terms of Reference

Please note that IWC holds the rights to the naming of Aboriginal Terms of Reference. Any use of this name or content of this site must be with the written permission of the Executive of IWC Ltd.


The IWC whole-of-person Transformational Management Model is unique, and is underpinned by our commitment to Reconciliation in Action. IWC's values are culturally defined because they are based on Aboriginal Terms of Reference (ATR). Underpinning the IWC ATR framework is a Cultural Philosophical Ethos (CPE) theory. The transformational whole-of-person, culturally responsive and inclusive services and programs being developed and delivered by IWC are driven by our communities, empowering individuals and families and delivering to the highest good of all.

The IWC’s service is unique in that the

organisation’s values are culturally

defined because they are based on Aboriginal Terms of Reference (ATR). The principles espouse:

  • Appreciation of Aboriginal diversity.

  • Reaffirmation of Aboriginal culture.

  • Confirmation of identity in the context of own Aboriginal environment.

  • Recognition of historical, cultural,

  • political and economic realities.

  • Validation by group for assessment

  • of achieving a negotiated standard.

  • Developing individual and collective options for the future.

Aboriginal Terms of Reference encompass the cultural knowledge, understanding and

experiences that are associated with a commitment to Aboriginal ways of thinking, working and reflecting. ATR incorporates specific and implicit cultural values, beliefs and priorities from which Aboriginal standards are derived, validated and practised. These standards vary according to the diverse range of cultural values, beliefs and

priorities from within local settings and specific context … (and) will be able to place terms and conditions on transactions in order to retain that which is important to  their own lives”


- (NRMC 1997, p20:  Cited in Yavu-Kama-Harathunian & Tomlin: 2007)

ATR Definition

Where ATR fits
within the IWC model

ATR reveals the essential elements of an

Aboriginal world view. Kickett’s (1992, cited in

NHMRC, 1997) paradigm positions a cultural

framework whereby discussion and the reality of

an Aboriginal world view can define what is acceptable

within the Indigenous reality, ways to achieve what is acceptable and ways to evaluate why the ways are acceptable.

The unique processes put in place in the IWC‘s service are guided by ATR principles, ensuring that it is their need that the local Indigenous people articulate that is being addressed on the individual, family and community level. Adhering to ATR principles ensures that the service’s focus is not primarily taken up by the client’s health need. That is only a small part of

addressing need. Rather, the IWC focus is on how the Indigenous client can see his or her own capacity and,

in partnership with the IWC, take responsibility

to meet the health need which they will address.

This factor alone is unique in health

service provision.

Rather than focusing primarily on the health need and treatment, the focus through the IWC approach is on the client, the family in which he or she sits, and the cultural group to which they hold allegiance.

The approach also is inclusive of the importance of their sacred lands, their lifestyle, their environmental, socio-social

factors and their value of their spirituality.

IWC is the largest employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in ouir region.

Our staff are trained in health positions

delivering services in line with their qualifications, and are guided by policies and procedures into which IWC integrates elements of the seven aspects of the CPE theory, ensuring ATR principles are maintained and cultural integrity is at the core of IWC services.

IWC’s Transformational Services Approach
The Aboriginal Terms of Reference

Underpinning the IWC ATR framework is a

Cultural Philosophical Ethos  (CPE) theory.

CPE is that essential spiritual sense of knowing

that underpins all that evolves from an individual’s layers of understanding, histories, life experiences, knowledge, learning processes, beliefs, values, attitudes, motivations, awareness and sense of self as a human being who belongs to a particular cultural group.


 It is the storehouse that houses an individual’s human experiences, everything that gives him / her recognition for their sense of belonging and being part of a

cultural group. It connects the individual’s internal

and external human experiences to their

spiritual and cultural identity.

- Cheri Yavu Kama Harathunian (1998)

CPE Theoryl