Cultural Safety

This section of the student website has been developed to assist you in caring for a diverse range of clients from a multicultural perspective. This overview of the ACT's multicultural society, its expectations and services will enable you to consider your response to cultural safety and how you can effectively work with our diverse population.

The ACT is a dynamic and diverse community with a multicultural population, which require a range of needs.

Cultural snapshot

Did you know these ACT facts?

Cultural Safety and Language Services

In a clinical context, 'cultural safety' is defined as a Health Professional’s understanding of his or her own personal culture and how these personal cultural values may impact on the provision of care to the person, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Cultural safety incorporates cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity and is underpinned by good communication, recognition of the diversity of views nationally and internationally between ethnic groups.

There are four levels in the cultural respect framework:

  • Knowledge and Awareness,
  • Skilled Practice and Behaviour,
  • Strong (Customer and Community) Relationships
  • Equity of Outcomes

The cultural respect framework provides the foundation of attainment of changed knowledge and awareness, leading to changes in practice and behaviour, which in turn provides an assurance that cultural safety and healing practices are legitimized. (ANMC: Position Statement, Inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Health and Cultural Issues in Courses leading to Registration or Enrolment)

It is important when working in a health care setting to have an awareness of cultural safety and diversity, and how this may affect the services which are provided to clients. All patients/clients deserve the right to receive fair and equitable services that are of a high quality.

It is important to keep in mind that we may be providing care to people from cultures where their beliefs and experiences may differ from our own. Aspects of this care that may have relevance can include the way we address clients, situations of special significance and who is present during this care.

A diverse client base

Awareness of multicultural issues and language services is important when working in a health care setting. The ACT Government has published a Multicultural Strategy for 2006-2009 which aims to embrace all first, second and subsequent generations of citizens with a multicultural heritage. ACT Health particularly acknowledges the special place of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and to this end in March 2006 published the Cultural Respect Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit: 2006-2009

The list below may assist you in considering some situations that may have significance for clients from different cultures and beliefs.

  • Birth rituals/birth control
  • Blood transfusions
  • Concept of healing and care
  • Disability/rehabilitation
  • Appropriate behaviour for the very ill patients/clients
  • Preferred practitioner gender
  • Attitudes to nudity
  • Preparation for death and death rituals

Also be aware that your patient/client may not speak English well enough to communicate with you or understand information that is provided. This can include peoples from Non English Speaking Backgrounds and also those who are hearing impaired or deaf. If you have any concerns in relation to language issues and the patient/client you are caring for please consult with your facility Supervisor or Clinical Placement Coordinator.

To maintain cross cultural effectiveness:

  • Speak clearly and simply without being simplistic or patronising
  • Place yourself in the clients situation and think how you would like to be treated
  • Clarify meaning: both yours and others
  • Be aware of your own non-verbal behaviour and the way you interpret that of others
  • Monitor your own style and the way you respond to difference
  • Relate to others as individuals, recognising similarities rather than only differences
  • Ensure you understand your clients living arrangements, relationships and accessibility to health services
  • Ask questions if you do not understand (if in doubt ask).


This section of the website was developed with the assistance of Queensland Health.
© Queensland Health, Queensland Government 2005-2007.
Reproduced with permission.