Marni naa pudni. (‘Welcome’ in Kaurna, the language and traditional owners of the Adelaide plains).

A key important component of trauma-informed practice is cultural safety. The work of Katherine on trauma-informed sentencing in South Australian courts (see the video above), highlighted the significance of cultural safety. That research drew attention to the need for expert mental health reports to consider the relevance and importance of cultural issues to sentencing decisions. Building on this, the Magnolia Project has been working with the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (SA) to develop a practice guide to support mental health professionals who provide expert evidence in matters involving First Nations defendants in court.

The guide includes some practice principles for working in this area. Additionally, key knowledge about Aboriginal cultures and local Aboriginal communities is a focus. We discuss the relevance of social and emotional wellbeing to legal decision-making and outline a set of skills that will increase the cultural safety of expert testimony. We also aim to make the law (sentencing legislation and case law) more accessible to psychologists and psychiatrists.

The guide is still being developed and we are seeking feedback from a range of different stakeholders. We hope that it will published and become publicly available later this year. It seems that there is a lot of interest in emphasising the importance of culture, and the guide may be useful across a range of contexts, beyond sentencing. Please contact us for more information, via the Magnolia Project (admin [at] or Twitter @katejmclachlan or @AndrewDay123.