The Aboriginal practitioner as communication mediator in intercultural bureaucratic encounters

Arthur S. Firkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Governments in Australia have deployed Aboriginal specific positions within government departments which focus on health, education and welfare services. This small-scale study uses a qualitative interpretive interview approach to explore the relative value of these targeted positions to service provision. The paper reveals that Aboriginal practitioners use a range of communication strategies that enable them to act as mediators and to traverse cultural distance between the bureaucracy and Aboriginal communities. The paper points out that Aboriginal practitioners experience unique types of professional pressures, which may not be evident in the wider public service. The paper concludes that the uses of particular communication strategies have the affect of creating distance and building solidarity between the practitioners and the communities they engage with. Although focused on Australia, the findings may have implications for other intercultural communication contexts that involve interaction between indigenous people and government bureaucracies. Adapted from the source document
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-124
Number of pages54
JournalThe Linguistics journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • intercultural communication
  • Aboriginal English
  • identity
  • code-switching
  • Aboriginal practitioners
  • bureaucracy
  • communication strategy
  • social policy

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