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Cultural Safety Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait

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                      The Aboriginal and Torres are minority communities indigenous to Australia. They are inhabitants of mainland Australia and its islands such as the Torres Strait Island. They are a people deeply rooted in culture. For them, culture is both a set of rules that control behaviors and a set of standards that guide how they look at the world (Brascoupé & Waters, 2019 p. 7).

                          Culture is deeply embedded in almost every aspect of their lives. It guides spiritual beliefs, dictates customs, law, history, and traditions (Nash, Meiklejohn & Sacre, 2006 p. 296). To safeguard their culture, it is passed on from one generation to another to ensure is carefully protected (Brascoupé & Waters, 2019 p.11). Cultural safety is concerned with the creation of an environment that is safe for the aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people. The latter means that there is no assault, challenge or denial of their identity and experience. Cultural safety is concerned with;

Mutual respect, shared meaning and shared knowledge

            The feeling of learning together with dignity and as well listening to other persons.

Strategic and institutionalized reforms to the removal of barriers to the optimal health, welfare and the safety of aboriginal Torres Islander people and their determination

People, institutions and systems ensuring self determination for the aboriginal people. The latter includes sharing power and resources with Aboriginal Torres Islander is also relevant for the design, delivery and evaluation of services for the aboriginal people.

                           Culture plays a big role in health and ill-health. In recent years there has been increasing recognition that their traditional health intervention practices are more likely to lead to improvements in modern health (Nash, Meiklejohn, Sacre, 2016 p. 152).

                            Before colonization, they practiced traditional forms of healing such as the use of traditional healers, healing songs, and bush medicines. There have been fears of the impact of colonization and the removal and disconnection of people both from their land and from their traditional families the effect it has had on their practice of traditional medicine (Funston, 2018, p.67).

                              The communities have a cultural-based holistic approach to health where health and wellbeing are connected to broad issues like social justice, equity, traditional knowledge, traditional healing, and connection to country. this approach to health focuses on the overall wellbeing of the patient (Nash, Meiklejohn & Sacre, 2006 p. 296). They believe the body cannot be separated from the mind; therefor mental health is given as much attention in the healing of the physical body (Gibson-Thorpe, et al., 2019 p.132).

                             The National Aboriginal Controlled Community Health organization was established. To offer and make accessible culturally secure services based on local knowledge and to provide evidence-based care, based on data and research, responsive to population needs (Taylor, & Guerin, 2019 p. 56).

                        As a health worker interacting with Aboriginal patients and their families, I would find it strange and challenging. Taking the cultural difference into account I expect to experience culture shock (Nash, Meiklejohn, Sacre, 2016 p. 132). It would be a first encounter with the concept of cultural safety in health, being from a different community interacting with an Aboriginal patient would feel like intruding (Brascoupé & Waters, 2019 p.111) I expect to find the interaction challenging because it would mean winning the trust of the patient and the family while adjusting to alternative treatment methods that are culture secure and in tandem with the aboriginal traditional health practices (Nash, Meiklejohn, Sacre, 2016 p. 102). This will be in adherence to their call cultural safety when it comes to matters of health (Mackean, Fisher, Friel, & Baum, 2020 p. 154).

                        The aboriginal people through the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization advocate for self-determination (Hickey, et al., p. 143). This implies the freedom dispenses health based on traditions and cultural beliefs (Nash, Meiklejohn, Sacre, 2016 p. 112). While interacting with aboriginal patients it would be worth noting just how important it is for the aboriginal community to agitate for self-determination to safeguard their health practices (Gibson-Thorpe, Lees & Haines, et al, 2019 p.44).

                          Collaboration is key to ensuring the health of the Aboriginal communities. Being that the aboriginal communities are a minority and have faced numerous health issues such as maternal deaths collaboration between a community member and their health workers as well as the government ensure they get accessible and culturally secure treatment (Brascoupé & Waters, 2019 p.132). To interact with aboriginal patients and their families would require collaboration with one of the community health workers. Interacting with the community health workers would inform me of the do’s and don’ts and the alternative for what is considered to go against the culture with the regular modern advanced medicine (Durey et al., 2017, p. 167).

                            To advocate for health service delivery that ensures health for the Aboriginal and Torres island people, I would advocate for the incorporation of health practices the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization advocates for in regular hospitals (Carey et al., 67). It has been established that modern medicine borrows from traditional health practices. Some traditional health practices have been proven to be effective and free of industrial chemicals (Calma, Dudgeon & Bray, 2017, p. 143). To ensure health for the aboriginal communities, incorporating their cultural treatment methods in mainstream medicine would not only make the treatment accessible to the communities but the rest of Australians (Brascoupé & Waters, 2019 p.54).

                       To make my contribution to closing the gap, I would undertake political action to address the health plight of the Aboriginal communities (Brascoupé, and Waters, 2019 p. 156). Creating awareness through political action rallies the support of sympathizers, addresses discrimination, and fosters the aboriginal communities’ unity to address matters of their health and per their culture (Gibson-Thorpe, et al., 2019 p. 215). It also to the development of community-based projects through lobbying for government funding (Truasheim, 2015 p. 154).


             The aboriginal communities are a perfect example of the impact of culture, traditions, and beliefs on health. Their holistic approach to wellness and health is built on true observations that healing begins from the mind, it can be argued that it is for this reason that the Aboriginal communities have put measures and strategies in place to protect and safe their cultural health practices. By protecting their health cultural practices, they ensure cultural safety for their people, self-determination allows them to keep the culture and through collaboration, they work together to maintain their health cultural practices and ensure its longevity It for these reasons that agree that to ensure the health of the aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, cultural safety, self-determination, and collaboration is important.


Brascoupé, S. and Waters, C., 2019. Cultural safety exploring the applicability of the concept of cultural safety to aboriginal health and community   wellness. International Journal of Indigenous Health5(2), pp.6-41.

Calma, T., Dudgeon, P., & Bray, A. (2017). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing and mental health. Australian Psychologist52(4), 255-260.

Carey, T. A., Dudgeon, P., Hammond, S. W., Hirvonen, T., Kyrios, M., Roufeil, L., & Smith, P. (2017). The Australian Psychological Society’s Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. Australian Psychologist52(4), 261-267.

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Funston, L., 2018. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander worldviews and cultural safety transforming sexual assault service provision for children and young people. International journal of environmental research and public health10(9), pp.3818-3833.

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Mackean, T., Fisher, M., Friel, S., & Baum, F. (2020). A framework to assess cultural safety in Australian public policy. Health promotion international35(2), 340-351.

Nash, R., Meiklejohn, B. and Sacre, S., 2016. The Yapunyah project: embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in the nursing curriculum. Contemporary Nurse22(2), pp.296-316.

Opie, C.A., Gibson-Thorpe, B., Lees, C. and Haines, H.M., 2019. ‘Believe in me and I will believe in myself’, a rural Australian health service learns how to mangan dunguludja ngatan (build strong employment) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait   Islander people: a qualitative study. Human Resources for Health17(1), p.44.

Taylor, K., & Guerin, P. (2019). Health care and Indigenous Australians: cultural safety in practice. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Truasheim, S. (2015). Cultural safety for aboriginal and Torres Strait islander adults within Australian music therapy practices. Australian Journal of Music Therapy25, 135.

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