An ambitious strategy to embed cultural safety into the health system has been launched.
The Strategy was led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and individuals via the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group that represents all signatories to the Strategy (see below).
When we talk about patient safety it’s important to understand that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this is inextricably linked with cultural safety
It has been endorsed by 42 organisations including AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency), the Optometry Board of Australia and the Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand, as well as academics and individuals.
The strategy focuses on achieving patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as the norm and the inextricably linked elements of clinical and cultural safety.
A culturally safe health workforce through nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines across all registered health practitioners in Australia.
Increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the registered health workforce and across all levels of the scheme regulating registered practitioners nationally.
Greater access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to culturally safe services from registered health practitioners.
Using the Strategy Group’s leadership and influence to achieve reciprocal goals. This includes developing a nationally consistent baseline definition to be used across the scheme regulating registered practitioners nationally, which has already been achieved in partnership with the National Health Leadership Forum.
Achievements to Date
As part of the Strategy, the following key achievements have already been delivered:
Partnering with the National Health Leadership Forum (the forum for national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health peak organisations) to develop, consult and finalise a baseline definition of cultural safety for the scheme for regulating health practitioners,
Commissioning high-quality cultural safety training to ensure that the regulation of health practitioners, including the development of standards practitioners must meet and the handling of notifications (concerns about registered health practitioners), is culturally safe, and
Recommending and advocating for changes to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to ensure consistency in cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
An Important Milestone
Inaugural Co-chair of the Strategy Group Prof Gregory Phillips said this work has been a long time in the making and marks an important milestone for addressing health equity.
“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group has already instigated and progressed significant reform to help achieve health equity and address racism in the health system. We are proud of our achievements to date and the launch of the strategy. We have much work to do, but together we can have a broad-reaching effect that will help embed cultural safety into the health system across Australia. This is a significant step in the right direction to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s health, and the national priority of a health system free of racism,” said Prof Phillips.
AHPRA Chair Gil Callister PSM said, “Self-determination has underpinned this work. The Strategy Group was guided by a caucus of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members to lead this work and reach a clear definition of cultural safety. As we saw in the recent 10-year Closing the Gap report, our health system must embrace this strategy to fundamentally improve the health of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Strategy Group Co-chair and Chair of the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia Julie Brayshaw said, “cultural safety needs to become the norm in order for patient outcomes to become equal between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians. Without cultural safety, there is no patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.”
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association CEO, incoming Strategy Group Co-chair Karl Briscoe said, “When we talk about patient safety it’s important to understand that for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this is inextricably linked with cultural safety. This means that cultural safety is not an ‘add on’ or ‘nice to’. It’s something all registered health practitioners and health regulators need to understand and apply.”
CEO of the Dental Council of Australia Ms Narelle Mills said the collaboration of the signatories and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership means the Strategy is an opportunity to demonstrate strength and commitment in this vitally important area.
“With this Strategy, 43 entities have a clear way forward to support cultural safety, work in a culturally safe way and deliver to clear strategic objectives that seek to embed cultural safety across the registered health workforce, education providers, students and the entities regulating health practitioners,” said Ms Mills.
Signatories to the Strategy
The Strategy was developed with the leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations and individuals. Endorsement or interim endorsement has been provided by:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Accreditation Committee
Dental Board of Australia
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia
AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency)
Australasian Osteopathic Accreditation Council
Australian and New Zealand Podiatry Accreditation Council
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
Australian Dental Council
Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association
Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association
Australian Medical Council
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council
Australian Pharmacy Council
Australian Physiotherapy Council
Australian Psychology Council
Chair, Occupational Therapy Council of Australia Ltd
Chinese Medicine Accreditation Committee
Chinese Medicine Board of Australia
Chiropractic Board of Australia
Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives
Council of Chiropractic Education Australasia
Councils Presidents Forums (NSW)
Indigenous Allied Health Australia
Medical Board of Australia
Medical Radiation Practice Accreditation Committee
Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
Occupational Therapy Board of Australia
Optometry Board of Australia
Optometry Council of Australia and New Zealand
Osteopathy Board of Australia
Paramedicine Board of Australia
Pharmacy Board of Australia
Physiotherapy Board of Australia
Podiatry Board of Australia
Prof Mark Wenitong
Prof Noel Hayman
Prof Pat Dudgeon (represented by Dr Sabine Hammond)
Prof Roianne West, Dean First Peoples Health
Psychology Board of Australia