Creating Culturally Safe Environments: Strategies and Examples

Creating a culturally safe environment means ensuring that everyone, especially those from more marginalised groups, feels secure and respected. 

Cultural safety is all about fostering conditions where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t experience assaults, challenges, or denials of their identity. It’s about shared respect, meaning, and knowledge, and ensuring that cultural values don’t negatively impact Indigenous persons and that power and resources are allocated fairly among communities.

There are a variety of strategies that you can employ to achieve Aboriginal cultural sensitivity, like providing education, establishing policies, and demanding accountability. To learn about what’s important and why when creating culturally safe places Evolve Communities provides cultural awareness training in Western Australia and all Australian states.

What Does a Culturally Safe Environment Look Like?

A culturally safe environment is one that recognizes, respects, and nurtures the cultural identity of a person. It’s characterised by clear two-way communication, trust between people, and shared knowledge. 

A culturally safe environment is one where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can freely be themselves without any stereotypical barriers in the way. This can only be achieved when everyone is involved; it requires awareness, proactivity, and accountability, and it’s the responsibility of organisations to provide opportunities for their people to break down any biases and misactions that could hinder efforts towards cultural safety.

Cultural Safety Strategies

The biggest challenge to cultural safety remains to be close-mindedness, which is why many cultural safety challenges are designed to educate people and help them break away from dangerous perspectives and preconditions. 

Here are some examples of cultural safety strategies that you can employ to make your environment safer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people:

Promote Cultural Awareness

Increasing people’s awareness of Indigenous culture is the best way to break predispositions. Workshops, seminars, and courses that cover topics on cultural competence, unconscious bias, and respectful communication–such as the cultural awareness training by Evolve Communities–are an effective way to set the foundation for a culturally safe environment.

Additionally, it’s important to provide people with support and resources to help them better get a grasp of cultural differences and to recognize the challenges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities experience. Give them access to counselling services, employee resource groups, or educational packets.

Implement Diversity and Inclusion Programs

Design programs that aim to diversify your environment by including people from different backgrounds. Through mentorship, networking, and groups, you can foster a culturally safe space because of increased awareness through interaction.

When considering recruitment and promotion, be fair and inclusive. Consider all candidates from diverse backgrounds.

Establish Cultural Safety Policies

Establishing cultural safety policies promotes cultural safety by prohibiting discrimination, bullying, or harassment. Take a look at where your current procedures fall short in this regard, then make the necessary changes–be it through a revamped code of conduct or a complaint process. 

An Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (EDIB) policy, in particular, is a great starting point as it outlines your commitment to promoting cultural safety. It sets forth guidelines for establishing a culturally safe environment and hashes out any consequences of any inappropriate actions.

Encourage Open Communication

Cultural safety is an ongoing process, and it can only be improved with the participation of everyone. In that regard, it’s good to promote healthy and open communication within your space to ensure that all needs and concerns are being addressed. Regularly hold surveys, focus groups, meetings, etc. to gauge what’s happening, and in the day-to-day, encourage active listening, respecting different perspectives, and avoiding assumptions.

Practice Accountability

A culturally safe environment is easier to sustain when leadership leads by example to promote an inclusive workplace. That said, there should be accountability all around, which you can achieve by setting goals and appointing officers to police negative behaviour. In case there may be incidents of discrimination or harassment, be ready with a transparent reporting process. 

Creating a Culturally Safe Environment With Evolve Communities

Evolve Communities is Australia’s trusted authority for Indigenous cultural awareness and ally training. With decades of experience and having worked with more than 800 leading employers, we can help you build a stronger and more inclusive business. Book a call to find out how Evolve Communities’ cultural awareness courses and workshops can help you create a culturally safe environment!

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