Cultural Safe Healthcare for Aboriginal People

Working with Aboriginal Health Professionals

A study on the preference of Aboriginal healthcare clients for health professionals showed that they are more comfortable being served by fellow Aboriginal professionals (Freeman et al., 2014). Therefore, Aboriginal healthcare professionals are crucial in ensuring cultural safety and respect for Aboriginal clients. From the aforementioned study, the clients expressed their satisfaction dealing with Aboriginal professionals because they can easily relate to their issues and share their issues with the professionals freely and get the needed support. The Aboriginal health staff can also speak the local languages with the patients, empowering the community and culture. It is also clear that when an Aboriginal healthcare professional is dealing with an Aboriginal patient, the patient is not likely subjected to racial stereotypes, making it culturally safe for him (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019).

To offer my healthcare professional service to the 58 years old patient, I would involve one of the Aboriginal colleagues to work together on the patient. Without an Aboriginal colleague in Melbourne Hospital, I will seek to involve one of the Aboriginal community health workers or volunteers. I will assure the patient that he can communicate with the Aboriginal professional for issues that he does not feel comfortable sharing with me. This way, the patient will be more comfortable sharing his health history and maybe the family history of diabetes. This will help us design more personalized ways of treating the patient (WHO, 2011).

Considerations of the Cultural Protocols

The cultural respect framework (CRF) of 2016 to 2026 states the importance of integrating cultural protocols in healthcare service provisions (Department of Health, 2019). Some strategies can be employed to observe cultural protocols (Deroy & Schütze, 2019). They include the following;

  • Gender-specific service- the issue of gender-specific service has been expressed severally by the Aboriginal people. There have been cases of Aboriginal men avoiding being attended by women health professionals arguing that they would like to discuss men’s stuff. Similarly, women patients would shy away from seeking medical services from male health professionals, especially if the sickness involves women matters. Husbands may also be uncomfortable when their wives are attended to by a male health professional and vice versa.
  • Cultural advisory boards- the creation of such boards made up of knowledgeable Aboriginal members who advise health professionals on various cultural protocols. This would make the health professionals aware of important protocols to adhere to.
  • Cultural events- Health professionals should normalize Aboriginal cultural events. These cultural events allow foreigners to understand various culturally important practices and protocols through their interactions. This can help them better understand the culture for better services to the community.

I would, therefore, ensure that the patient is attended to by a male health professional so that he feels comfortable receiving the services. Secondly, I would find a knowledgeable Aboriginal man for insights about handling an Aboriginal male patient. Further, I would ensure that I get updated with information about certain protocols that should be followed therefore treating him in a way that respects his culture and leaves him satisfied.

Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere

One of the most appreciated aspects of a medical facility or professional is the welcoming culture, even in a new cultural environment (Dixon & Cordwell, 2012). A welcoming environment means creating an atmosphere where the Aboriginal people feel comfortable, safe, and accepted, giving them confidence. Health professionals should have listening skills and offer high-quality care services to them in a friendly manner. The health professional further needs to be aware and have sensitivity to the cultural beliefs and practices of the Aboriginal people. Studies show that many Aboriginal people, including primary healthcare centers, find healthcare services unwelcoming. These experiences can impact the Aboriginal people being reluctant to seek medical healthcare services or avoid formal healthcare facilities altogether and thus adversely affecting the overall well-being of the community. Therefore, a welcoming healthcare facility should enable the patients, the community, and the staff to uphold cultural values, practices, and beliefs. The physical layout, relational, and emotional elements can help facilities create a welcoming environment for the Aboriginal people (ACSQHC, 2019).

I would, therefore, ensure that I connect with the patient’s emotions and have an excellent interpersonal relationship with him. I would listen to his concerns and treat him respectfully and with utmost care. This will make him feel respected and accepted in Melbourne Hospital; therefore, the services I will offer him will be considered culturally safe. Consequently, he will feel satisfied with the services and make him and his community embrace healthcare services at the hospital.

Ensuring Active Patient and Family Involvement

The involvement of the family members of Aboriginal patients in the healthcare procedure is a key aspect in ensuring shared decision-making and making the family and the patient feel like partners in the healthcare facility (Schill & Caxaj, 2019). This leads to the community ownership of the process. The result of this involvement is re-orienting the healthcare services, making it align with the cultural values, beliefs, and practices of the Aboriginal people (Davy, Harfield, McArthur, Munn, & Brown, 2016).

I will ensure the involvement of the family in decision-making by creating time for one-on-one discussions with the family members and the patients on the decisions about health care, respecting different perspectives of the patient and the family, empowering the family through educating them on the care needed for the patient; for example, the diet to use, communicating with the patient and the family members in a culturally respectable manner, adopting the Aboriginal health advocacy measures in supporting the involvement of the patient and the family in health care and guiding the family on ways of caring for a diabetic patient at home. I will also conduct frequent home visits to the patient after his discharge from the hospital to help him access a quality diet and the required health services.

Overall, this will empower the family and, consequently, the community to have a sense of ownership of the services of the Melbourne Hospital. This will make the Aboriginal community comfortable in visiting the hospital for health care services.


ACSQHC. (2019). Action 1.33: Welcoming environments. Retrieved June 17, 2020, from Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare:

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019, October 28). Cultural safety in health care for Indigenous Australians: monitoring framework. Retrieved June 17, 2020, from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare:

Davy, C., Harfield, S., McArthur, A., Munn, Z., & Brown, A. (2016). Access to primary health care services for Indigenous peoples: A framework synthesis. International Journal for Equity in Health volume 15, Article number: 163 (2016), 1-9.

Department of Health. (2019, March 22). Cultural Respect Framework 2016-2026. Retrieved June 17, 2020, from Commonwealth of Australia: Department of Health:

Deroy, S., & Schütze, H. (2019). Factors supporting retention of aboriginal health and wellbeing staff in Aboriginal health services: a comprehensive review of the literature. Deroy and Schütze International Journal for Equity in Health (2019) 18:70, 1-11.

Dixon, J., & Cordwell, L. (2012). An introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health cultural protocols and perspectives. 1 Palmerston Crescent, South Melbourne, Victoria 3205, Australia: The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Freeman, T., Edwards, T., Baum, F., Lawless, A., Jolley, G., Javanparast, S., et al. (2014). Cultural respect strategies in Australian Aboriginal primary health care services: beyond education and training of practitioners. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2014 vol. 38 no. 4, 355-361.

Schill, K., & Caxaj, S. (2019). Cultural safety strategies for rural Indigenous palliative care: a scoping review. BMC Palliat Care. 2019; 18: 21., 1-13.

WHO. (2011, August 9). International Day of the World’s IndigenousIndigenous People. The message of the World Health Organisation (WHO), p. 1/1.