Bruce Dufty was introduced to the 3rd September meeting of the Rotary Club of Pinjarra by Bob de Bijl. Bruce is a Social and Clinical Psychologist, a member of the Rotary Club of Western Endeavour, and is the Chair of the Rotary District 9465 Aboriginal Reference Group.
This Group is a facilitatory group that Clubs can call upon to assist them to establish strategic partnerships / alliances with Western Australian Aboriginal communities for the purposes of:
1. Understanding aboriginal culture, values and practices - this understanding makes mutual projects effective.
2. Establishing strong, respectful relationships with Aboriginal people – which are critical to being able to work effectively together towards a common goal with each party understanding the other’s perspective/s.
3. Assisting Aboriginal groups in recording their language, history and culture … before the traditional carriers die out.
4. Assisting Non-Indigenous and Aboriginal people each to develop frameworks for working in the third space between both cultures.
5. Empowering Aboriginal people by offering them opportunities, skills, knowledge and experience so that they can develop the confidence and competence to make sound decisions.
6. To encourage Aboriginal people to up-date and modernise their culture.
In order to achieve these aims, the Aboriginal Group may provide guidelines, research and suggest options or occasionally work collaboratively with Clubs and Aboriginal communities.
The common strategies and solutions which non-Aboriginal persons use when interacting with one-another often do not apply when cross-cultural interactions between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal persons occurs. These differences, generally because of the ignorance of Aboriginal cultural practices has made progress difficult and often doomed to failure. For example, the process of discussing an issue can take a long time before a concensus is reached. The non- Aboriginal process for a similar discussion is often a faster process, The longer duration of discussions can lead to impatience on the part of the non-Aboriginal, which is keenly felt as "rudeness" by the Aboriginal. The (perhaps inevitable) outcome is not satisfactory to either party, and engenders mistrust, rather than building trust.
Over many years interacting with Aboriginal people, Bruce realised their aspirations are very similar to those of non-Aboriginal persons; desiring peace, security, and a healthy environment in which their children and family can prosper.
In Western Australia, there are 130 different Aboriginal clans or language groups. There are often similarities between these groups, but overall there are significant differences; differences which directly affect the way in which the groups interact with each other. The various groups understand these social "rules", but the non-Aboriginal person will generally be ignorant of the manner in which good communication and relations may occur. Inevitably, this often leads to misunderstandings, and unfortunately, sometimes to violence. 

When opening a conversation with Aboriginal persons, it is important to introduce oneself to the person or group, to state what it is you wish to speak about, the outcome you wish to achieve, and then to patiently listen for their reply which will include their concerns. As with all people, situations may be misunderstood or mis-interpreted especially when cultural issues are involved, so patience and explanations are needed to assist understanding.

Aboriginal people have a very close relationship with their environment. Establishing trust when working with Aboriginal groups is essential, and listening closely to their opinions, concerns and aspirations does help to build trust.
Decision making within Aboriginal culture is a multi-level matter, and includes consultation between both male and female hierarchy (elders) before an outcome is agreed. This slows down decision making and requires patience and understanding.
Our culture expects quick results which in reality, rarely happens. Government-sponsored programs targeting improvements in the areas of Aboriginal Health, Welfare, and Education have come and gone over a long period of time, but these issues have experienced only a slow and steady improvement. There is much still to be done in this regard, but clearly, how this may be best achieved remains to be addressed. Bruce believes that in order for these improvements to occur, Government must cooperate with Aboriginal elders to ensure that any program has a chance of succeeding in its goal.
Part of the Group's work is a study aimed at determining the extent of FASD (Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder) in Aboriginal communities. The program hopes to assist communities to address problems caused by excessive consumption of alcohol through education. Early diagnosis and intervention are part of the program.
The following "Making FASD History" link will provide further information about how the issue is being addressed by the Rotary Club of Osborn Park (of which Bruce is a former member). Bruce remains part of the Rotary ‘Making FASD History’ project team.

Tom Quirk thanked Bruce for sharing his knowledge and experiences in understanding issues we as fellow Australians need to consider. Tom presented Bruce with a momento of his visit to our Club, and called upon the meeting to thank Bruce with a round of applause.