Background: Developing since colonisation, Australia's healthcare system has dismissed an ongoing and successful First Nations health paradigm in place for 60,000 years. From Captain James Cook documenting 'very old' First Nations Peoples being 'far more happier than we Europeans' and Governor Arthur Phillip naming Manly in admiration of the physical health of Gadigal men of the Eora Nation, to anthropologist Daisy Bates' observation of First Nations Peoples living 'into their eighties' and having a higher life expectancy than Europeans; our healthcare system's shameful cultural safety deficit has allowed for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child born in Australia today to expect to live 9 years less than a non-Indigenous child. Disproportionately negative healthcare outcomes including early onset diabetes-related foot disease and high rates of lower limb amputation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples contribute to this gross inequity.
Main body: In 2020, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority released the National Scheme's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 - empowering all registered health practitioners within Australia to provide health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples that is inclusive, respectful and safe, as judged by the recipient of care. This recently released strategy is critically important to the podiatry profession in Australia. As clinicians, researchers and educators we have a collective responsibility to engage with this strategy of cultural safety. This commentary defines cultural safety for podiatry and outlines the components of the strategy in the context of our profession. Discussion considers the impact of the strategy on podiatry. It identifies mechanisms for podiatrists in all settings to facilitate safer practice, thereby advancing healthcare to produce more equitable outcomes.
Conclusion: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples access health services more frequently and have better health outcomes where provision of care is culturally safe. By engaging with the National Scheme's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy, all registered podiatrists in Australia can contribute to achieving equity in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; Cultural safety; First Nations; Indigenous; Podiatry.