The ATSISEP defined cultural safety as an environment which is safe for Indigenous people with shared respect, shared meaning, shared knowledge, shared experience and dignity (ATSISPEP, 2016).
Culturally safe service environments are welcoming for Indigenous people. It is a model of practice which respects and supports patients’ identities. Markers of culturally safe environments include Indigenous staff working in all positions of an organisation, and artwork and posters celebrating Indigenous life and culture. Cultural safety is also important for Indigenous health workers to work effectively in mainstream health services – free from discrimination, where their Indigeneity is valued, and at an individual level they feel secure, safe and respected (Williams, 1999).
Cultural safety can be seen as a higher order concept that includes cultural awareness, responsiveness and competence. This is reflected in definitions such as the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwifes (CATSINaM) which describes cultural safety as a “philosophy of practice” that informs not only what health professionals do but how much they work. Others, as Walker, Schultz and Sonn (2014), have included the concept of critically reflective practice in their definition of cultural competence. A link to their work Cultural Competence – Transforming Policy, Services, Programs and Practice (2014) is here: telethonkids.org.au