F4.1 Supporting Aboriginal Clients to Navigate Two Worlds


Valarie Tambling
Relationships Australia NT
Thursday 18 May 2023

Time: 9:00am – 9:30am

Room: Room 8

F4.1 Relationship breakdown and re-partnering

Supporting Aboriginal Clients to Navigate Two Worlds


Relationships Australia NT’s Aboriginal and Islander Advisors (AICA) deliver two targeted programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. This includes an internally developed group program ‘Straight Talk’ and ‘Aboriginal Building Connections’ (ABC), a parenting education program developed by Interrelate. Both education programs support Aboriginal people in remote parts of the Northern Territory to connect with their family, culture, and traditions.

Valarie Tambling, Senior Aboriginal Islander Cultural Advisor had been delivering Interrelate’s ABC program and recognised the gaps in the content, so she developed Straight Talk as a prequel to ABC.

Straight Talk helps people first reconnect and understand who they are before they do ABC, which is focused on children and family.

Aboriginal people are navigating two worlds. With Straight Talk, clients can first connect with their traditional side and then find their way in the Western system. The program uses a strengths-based approach that explores the complexity and depth of culture, traditional lore, family roles and kinship structures. It also provides language and understanding of the impacts of colonisation and intergenerational trauma.

It focuses on the needs of children and provides parents with practical solutions for setting aside conflict. There is an emphasis on the importance of self-care and the wider impact of grief and family breakdown. It also provides tools and motivation for improving communication and setting goals for healthy parenting.


  • Started at RANT – 05 March 2012 in the role of AICA (Aboriginal/Islander Cultural Advisor)
  • Supporting her clients through the Aboriginal Building Connections (ABC) program and acts as a liaison person for RA-NT to our Aboriginal/Islander Clients.
  • Developed her own program “Straight Talk” to address the gaps in the ABC program delivery.
  • Internally she has brought a wealth of knowledge to RANT Staff through her client work and Cultural Fitness sessions (cross cultural awareness).
  • Her local knowledge of country/communities and families is invaluable and we thank her for connecting RA-NT to culture/kinship and communities.