How Does Cultural Awareness Promote Cultural Safety?

Cultural awareness and safety are two sides of the same coin – but with specific differences.

In essence, the four features of cultural competence are a starting point in being more culturally mindful in communications and collaborations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It is important to grasp the contrasts of cultural competence vs cultural safety to gain a fully rounded oversight of your learning development and the next steps to creating a truly inclusive environment.

Essential Components of Cultural Awareness Training

What is included in cultural competency training? A professional online learning programme will consist of material to help with:

  • Understanding how cultural influences shape our behaviours, experiences and actions.
  • Learning how to respect and accept cultural differences.
  • Studying ways to adapt processes to be culturally aware and respectful.

Putting those skills into effect and building organisation-wide strong cultural awareness is a vital component in a culturally safe workplace.

Links Between Cultural Awareness and Cultural Safety

Now that we’ve looked at the basics of cultural awareness training, let’s return to our question: How does cultural awareness promote cultural safety?

To answer, we first need to clarify the meaning, and essential nature of cultural safety, a legislative requirement for any public agency.

A culturally safe workforce is one where individuals can express views, opinions and knowledge without the prospect of denial, challenge or assault against who they are and the lived experience they bring to the table.

To be culturally safe, managers must protect and support the rights of every worker to represent and be proud of their culture.

Whether geographical, societal, faith-based or otherwise, every culture must be held to the same level of significance.

Nobody can be expected to conform to policies that do not adhere to their cultural wishes, values or expectations.

Why is Cultural Safety Important in Australian Workforces?

Cultural safety and awareness training benefits every team member within any workplace, whether they are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or of Anglo or non-English speaking heritage.

Well-developed cultural safety programmes deliver:

  • Open attitudes of inclusion and appreciation
  • Increased workplace respect and idea-sharing
  • Mentally healthy practises and support structures

To ensure your workplace is culturally safe, the best way to start is by evaluating your values and principles and the resources in place to enable everybody to work effectively and cross-culturally.

The aim is to create a framework where all colleagues are supported, respected, and comfortable contributing equally.

Cultural safety doesn’t only relate to communication, opportunity and inclusion, but other factors such as health and safety policies and management approaches.

As a core learning objective, the outcome of clear cultural awareness knowledge is that no one individual believes their own methods or values are the only solution – and that there are many diverse ways to solve problems.

What Should a Culturally Safe Workplace Look Like?

Every organisation and team is different, but the nature of cultural safety is that it commands actions that recognise and nurture each person’s cultural identity.

Therefore, managers and co-workers are skilled in working from the cultural perspective of others rather than solely from their own.

Culturally safe workplaces prioritise:

  • Respectful, open and value-free communications.
  • Trust and equal respect for all contributions between workers.
  • Recognition and avoidance of typical barriers to recruitment, engagement or opportunity.
  • Dialogues to promote knowledge sharing.

If a company can state that it is culturally safe for all workers, and the local community, with good connections and responsiveness to need, it will attract more diverse team members with a powerful ability to adapt, evolve and excel.

First Steps to Creating a Culturally Safe Organisation

While we cannot underestimate the value and crucial nature of cultural safety, it is also true that creating organisational change takes commitment and time.

Managers can begin by addressing cultural awareness, evaluating the approaches in place in the workplace, and engaging with colleagues to discuss and contribute.

Worker engagement is fundamental, and to champion cultural safety, leaders must be clear about the benefits and objectives they are striving for and ensure that staff are active stakeholders.

Building robust cultural safety isn’t an ad hoc task but an ongoing activity, including performance monitoring and quality assessments.

Policies may form the basis of the process, but ensuring they are operating as intended and correctly implemented is just as necessary to ensure the benefits make a long-term impact.

If you have concerns that your organisation does not yet fully embrace these characteristics, cultural awareness training is strongly recommended to build that foundation of understanding from which cultural safety can flourish.

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