This year’s Australian Podiatry Conference saw the inaugural Indigenous conference stream unfold; with conversations appearing to centre around how successful it was, how overdue it was, and how long it may continue. This kind of passion reminds me that we are more than capable of becoming a leader in culturally safe healthcare delivery in this country.
What is cultural safety?
If you are unsure as to what culturally safe healthcare is, you’re not alone. This conversation was common amongst attendees, with discussion around where such tools and resources exist. If you can relate refer to ‘More information’ at the end of this article, which discusses cultural safety in more detail.
The requirement for culturally safe healthcare led to the development of a cultural safety strategy, launched in 2020 by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra), aiming to address inequitable health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. On the topic of cultural safety, a cultural safety training provider was announced by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency in 2019, and the Podiatry Board of Australia wrote about this topic with an update in their recent June 2021 newsletter.
A conference snapshot
Overall, the conference topics were diverse with keynote presentations from Kaurna man Associate Professor James Charles, Murrawarri man Dr Brett Biles, and Māori woman Belinda Ihaka. Speakers then carried out a live Q&A session and contributed to a live panel discussion with Associate Professor Caroline Robinson. You can check out what Associate Professor Cylie Williams, Chair of the Podiatry Board of Australia thought of the session in her tweet here.
If you missed any of this content, here is a summary of some resources shared at this year’s conference.
- Dr Brett Biles shared some really good references for everyone to consult in a professional space (which are all driven by First Nations leadership, governance, and voices). They include Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, the LIME Network and Indigenous Allied Health Australia.
- Brett also spoke of the importance of getting the basics right in this space. For example, something as simple as improving our use of correct terminology. He discussed the NSW Department of Health resource, Communicating Positively: A guide to appropriate Aboriginal terminology. Another great resource in both professional and personal contexts is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Guide to Terminology, produced for Public Health Association (Australia). Yorta Yorta woman, Dr Summer May Finlay is a contributor to this work. These are just two of the many fantastic resources that exist in this space.
As individuals, we can access the same cultural safety education provider working with Ahpra through Griffith University First Peoples Health e-learning Initiative; ‘Safer Healthcare for Australia’s First Peoples’. This is an online professional development activity that centres on learning to provide safer healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. It does this by developing your cultural safety and it gives evidence-based insight into how colonisation can affect the health of Australia’s First Peoples.
This course explores five cultural capabilities (from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework) which are Respect, Communication, Safety and Quality, Reflection and Advocacy.
The course features Professor Gregory Phillips, from the Waanyi and Jaru peoples and member of Ahpra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group, and blends opinion, targeted resources, moderated forums, and a variety of topics covered into an informative and engaging learning resource – recommended duration is six hours study over two weeks.
The course runs regularly and costs $80.00, and you can register via this link. This experience gives you permanent access to invaluable resources and evidence of program completion in hard copy.
Personal development in this space overlaps professional. Inspiring, thought-provoking, and informative readings around personal development, given the recent Indigenous conference stream and NAIDOC week, are linked below.
- Dr Summer May Finlay (Yorta Yorta), ‘Where do you fit? Tokenistic, ally – or accomplice?’
- Rachel Rasker with Kristy Dickinson (Wiradjuri), Trent Nelson (Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta), Tracey Rigney (Wotjobaluk and Ngarrindjeri), and Rona Glynn-McDonald (Kaytetye), ‘How to be a good ally to Indigenous Australians’ within which Tracey Rigney recommends looking up online resources such as Blak Business, IndigenousX, the Victorian Government's Deadly & Proud campaign, Common Ground, NITV, the NAIDOC week films and documentaries on ABC iView, and ABC Indigenous on Instagram and Facebook.
I believe we are in the business that must be the most inclusive of all – health. Our podiatry profession is the sum of all its parts, all of us collectively as a group of individuals, from board members to clinicians to teachers and researchers. With continual individual improvement, we are moving our entire profession incrementally closer to proudly leading in cultural safety.