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Ahpra partnership with Weenthunga Health Network guiding critical reform work to eliminate racism in healthcare

22 Mar 2024

Key points

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have the right to access and work in healthcare that is culturally safe and free from racism.
  • The health practitioner regulator’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit (HSU) is supporting the Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development (ACPD) Working Group and Weenthunga Health Network to co-design and develop nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines for registered practitioners on cultural safety.
  • The Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Framework and Strategy is a multi-year project, grounded by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of being, knowing and doing.  

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency has taken a major step in its role to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples from racism in healthcare.

A matter of urgency in its reform work to eliminate racism in all its forms from healthcare, outlined in the National Scheme’s , is the development of a multi-year National Accreditation and Continuous Professional Development (ACPD) Framework and Strategy.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group (Strategy Group) is a partnership between The National Scheme and the National Health Leadership Forum, consisting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector leaders and representatives from accreditation authorities, National Boards, Ahpra and Ahpra's Board, which will provide strategic oversight of this project.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit (HSU) is leading the implementation of the cultural safety strategy and is excited to announce a major step in the Cultural Safety ACPD project. Ahpra and the Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development (ACPD) Working Group, a sub-committee of the Strategy Group is partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultancy, Weenthunga Health Network to co-design and drive this work.

Yawuru woman Tanya McGregor is chair of the Working Group and an Ahpra Board member.

‘There is a significant gap in cultural safety knowledge and application across regulated health practitioners, and that is putting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s lives at risk,’ Ms McGregor said.

‘By embedding cultural safety in accreditation and Continuing Professional Development requirements for all 16 regulated health professions we will ensure consistency and accountability to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and health workers.

‘This substantial framework to eliminate interpersonal, systemic and institutional racism in healthcare is led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who have lived and living experience of the impacts of the colonial state and racism.’

Waywurru woman Sam Paxton, CEO of Weenthunga Health Network said this is groundbreaking work.

‘Weenthunga are excited to be part of this collaboration and critical reform. It not only builds the evidence base for why cultural safety ACPD reform is needed in Australia but shows how it can be achieved across 16 health professions,’ Ms Paxton said.

‘Pivotal in laying the groundwork for effective cultural safety ACPD is addressing ingrained power and privilege, combating organisational rejection, and applying unlearning and relearning processes.’

Gamilaraay woman Jayde Fuller, National Director of the HSU said the ACPD project builds on world-first reform to embed cultural safety into Australian legislation.

‘Cultural safety is patient safety. Racist and culturally unsafe practice and behaviour towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will not be tolerated as seen in the landmark ruling of a doctor banned for discriminatory and offensive behaviour,’ Ms Fuller said.

The national Cultural Safety ACPD Strategy and Framework aims to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by eliminating racism from the health system by:

  • reinforcing that, as per the practitioner’s codes of conduct, cultural safety is determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities.
  • reinforcing that culturally safe practise is the ongoing critical reflection of health practitioner knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in delivering safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism.
  • requiring compulsory, consistent, integrated core training and education on cultural safety for registered health practitioners throughout their career.
  • embedding cultural safety in education curriculum, and as a requirement for workplace and regulatory standards.
  • providing a set of core standards and competencies which can be adapted to any profession or location.

“There is a significant gap in cultural safety knowledge and application across regulated health practitioners, and that is putting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People’s lives at risk” - Tanya McGregor.

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Page reviewed 22/03/2024