Cultural safety--what does it mean for our work practice?

Aust N Z J Public Health. 1999 Apr;23(2):213-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.1999.tb01240.x.


Culturally safe service delivery is critical in enhancing personal empowerment and, as a result, should promote more effective and meaningful pathways to self determination for Indigenous people. Little has been said about encouraging people from Indigenous groups into the health and education discipline(s) to help provide a safe environment which includes cultural safety. This is a phrase originally coined by Maori nurses which means that there is no assault on a person's identity. The people most able or equipped to provide a culturally safe atmosphere are people from the same culture. We need to move on from the 'short term, cost effective, quick fix' approach to Indigenous issues, driven by economic imperatives, the clamouring of industry and conservative, hegemonic practices. To genuinely address the challenges of Indigenous health and education, the issue of cultural safety cannot be avoided. Critical reflection on experiential knowledge and defining or framing a debate on cultural safety is essential. This paper briefly examines some considerations for work practice.

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services, Indigenous
  • Humans
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • New Zealand
  • Northern Territory
  • Nursing Theory
  • Polynesia / ethnology
  • Safety Management / organization & administration
  • Security Measures
  • Social Environment
  • Transcultural Nursing*
  • Workplace