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Create a culturally safe space

Learn how to create a culturally safe environment

Consider the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people when you design policies, services and the environment in your ward or around your patient.

Complete an Aboriginal Health Impact statement

When you are getting started, the first step should be to complete an Aboriginal Health Impact statement.  This can will help you to understand the impact, risk factors and inequities experienced by Aboriginal people.

Watch this animation for some information about conducting an Aboriginal Impact Statement.

Engaging with the community

Engage and build relationships with the local Aboriginal community and support services as you design your services and environment. This could include Aboriginal Elders, local Aboriginal medical services, primary health networks, Aboriginal land councils and community centres.

Aboriginal people are best placed to guide you to design services and your environment in a way that optimises the experience for Aboriginal people.

Seek guidance from your Aboriginal Liaison Officer (ALO) on approaching Aboriginal elders from the community to consult with and build relationships.

Remember to feed back on the outcome of consultation to help build mutual respect and trust.

Consider flexibility in your services and policies

Consider offering flexible scheduling of therapy and ward activities to allow for family involvement and visits.

You can do the following:

  • Conduct discussions with patients and their identified family members or contact person regarding optimum scheduling to accommodate family visits, times and involvement, as appropriate
  • Use outdoor therapy options
  • Seek advice from the community
  • Encourage weekend leave to allow patients to go back to Country
  • Involve relevant family/contact person in case conferences
  • Bring family into treatment sessions.

Create a culturally safe space

Find or create a culturally safe space for Aboriginal people and their families. Use display materials around your ward and create dedicated private spaces.

You can do the following:

  • Display stories around the ward or collect your own
  • Invite the local Aboriginal Medical Service, primary health network, Aboriginal Land Council or community centres to a morning tea, discussion and story telling
  • Provide Welcome to Country for events
  • Work in partnership with the local Aboriginal community to improve the patient experience
  • Recognise significant cultural days on the ward (e.g. NAIDOC Week, Reconciliation Week, Sorry Day, National Apology Day)
  • Address physical, emotional and relational aspects e.g. display appropriate resource materials in simple language
  • Provide tea and coffee for family visits
  • Allocate a private space as required (indoor and outdoor options)
  • Display artwork and recognise culture:
    • Display artwork created by Danielle Mate Sullivan
    • Display artwork created by the late Aunty Cecily Welington-Carpenter
    • Display promotional Gadjigadji resources
    • Contract local artists to submit artwork
    • Use existing artwork available through the local health district (LHD)
    • Decorate family visiting and or reception areas with culturally appropriate information and materials
    • Hang curtains displaying Aboriginal art, where available
    • Encourage staff to wear uniforms with cultural symbols, where available
    • Display Aboriginal map of country.

Further resources

See our implementation toolkit for videos, templates, posters and links to references and training resources.


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