What is cultural safety?
The term ‘Cultural safety’ was first defined by the Maori nursing fraternity in New Zealand and is expressed as:
“An environment that is safe for people: where there is no assault, challenge or denial of their identity, of who they are and what they need. It is about shared respect, shared meaning, shared knowledge and experience, of learning, living and working together with dignity and truly listening.”
Williams, Robyn (2008). Cultural safety: what does it mean for our work practice? Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 23(2): 213-214.
Why do we need cultural safety?
Why is it important?
As the carer of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child, particularly if you are not Indigenous, it is imperative that you are able to maintain and create cultural safety for the child in your care.
Cultural safety differs to that of cultural awareness.
That is, being culturally aware is the initial point of gaining a better understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues so that you’re more culturally mindful. On the other hand, cultural safety is when you as the carer provide the child with a safe home, which respects their Aboriginality and therefore encourages their sense of self and identity.
Consider the quote below when caring for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child:
“It is the right of our families to be able to express and be proud of their culture. We, as Kooris, acknowledge that western culture is no more or less important than our own culture. We do not force or inflict our views on others and we ask that our families be afforded the same courtesy – without the expectation that they conform to non-Aboriginal ways.”
Koori Human Services Unit, Improving care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Patients Resource Kit (2008).
The term ‘Koori’ is the word Aboriginal people of Victoria, parts of NSW and Tasmania use for themselves. The term was used for the purpose of the quote. We acknowledge the diversity of Aboriginal Australian people.