Cultural Safety Principles for All Organisations

Every organisation that hopes to foster a culturally safe atmosphere must be grounded on the cultural safety principles of awareness, sensitivity, competency, and humility. These principles serve as the foundation of an environment where respect, knowledge, and experience are shared among members without fear or denial; a space where each person can examine and express their culture openly. 

To successfully put cultural safety principles into practice, it helps to take an Indigenous cultural competency training program from Evolve Communities.

Defining Cultural Safety

What is cultural safety? Cultural safety is the state of an environment that is spiritually, socially, emotionally, and physically safe, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In a culturally safe space, there is no assault, challenge, or denial of anyone’s identity or needs.

Cultural safety is all about shared respect, meaning, and knowledge, and cultivating an experience of learning and listening with dignity and honesty. It aims to remove barriers to the health, well-being, and safety of Indigenous persons, which involves addressing bias, racism, and discrimination, protecting cultural values, and empowering self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The concept of cultural safety emerged in Aotearoa New Zealand in the 1980s as a framework for delivering better health services to the Māori people. Nowadays, the concept is used beyond the healthcare industry; it’s applied to all environments, especially workplaces.

Cultural Safety Principles

There are four cultural safety principles that all organisations should use to guide their practices. Let’s break down each one:

Cultural Awareness

Cultural awareness is recognising that cultures are unique and that their similarities or differences don’t make one better. This starts with open dialogue, empowering all individuals to practise and share their beliefs so that learning can happen all around.

Cultural Sensitivity

Cultural sensitivity is the awareness that everyone is influenced by their own culture, and therefore, holds biases. Despite this, we consciously act respectfully towards others who have different beliefs and practices. It involves reflective practice–we must be open to learning from and about other cultures and we need to be self-aware that our biases may impact how we behave towards others.

Cultural Competency

Cultural competency is the initiative to understand the cultures of others and develop respectful interaction skills towards them. You don’t have to become an expert in culture to have cultural competency; you just have to get to a point where you can acknowledge your own biases and be more responsible for any behaviours that are influenced by them, whether intentional or not.

Cultural Humility

Cultural humility is the realisation that power and privilege exist in cultural settings, and that we must take responsibility for any actions that spring from that. It necessitates a recognition of a power imbalance and a reflection of one’s own power and role in empowering others. It also requires being mindful of whose values are being valued, and making sure that one’s culture isn’t being imposed on another and that, in case of conflict, professional responsibilities aren’t compromised.

How to Foster Cultural Safety in Your Organisation

You can implement cultural safety principles in your organisation by providing training and setting guidelines for cultural safety practices and conflict resolution. Let’s break down these steps:

Provide Cultural Competency Training

Cultural competency training is a great way to build an environment that fosters cultural safety. It equips people with the tools and framework to act based on the outlined cultural safety principles. 

Choosing the right program is paramount to success. Evolve Communities’ cultural competency training courses are backed by authentic cultural knowledge and real allyship expertise, making them excellent options.

Set Cultural Safety Guidelines

You should include guidelines that are founded on cultural safety in your employee handbook. It should set standards to protect cultural safety, touching on related responsibilities, expectations, and consequences.

Know How to Resolve Issues

Review your conflict resolution practices with help from cultural safety consultants to ensure that you’re implementing proper and fair management practices. Create easy reporting processes so that people can easily report any occurrences of cultural unsafety.

Practise Cultural Safety Principles with Evolve Communities

Evolve Communities is ready to help you build an organisation founded on key cultural safety principles. Check out our cultural competency training programs to see how you can help your team become allies to Indigenous people and foster a culturally safe work environment!

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