Diagram displaying the 5 cultural capabilities

The five cultural capabilities

Good health care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples require health and human services workers to be both clinically and culturally safe.

This course leads you through five interconnected cultural capabilities essential to delivering culturally safe care for Australia’s First Peoples.

So, what do we mean by ‘cultural capabilities’?

It’s the skills, knowledge and behaviours required to plan, support, improve and deliver services in a culturally respectful and appropriate manner.

The big question is: Are you ready?

Here is a snapshot of each cultural capability, as identified in The Framework, before we begin.

  1. Cultural Respect: Recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ ways of knowing, being and doing in the context of history, culture and diversity, and affirm and protect these factors through ongoing learning in health care practice.

  2. Culturally Safe Communication: Engage in culturally appropriate, safe and sensitive communication that facilitates trust and the building of respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

  3. Cultural Safety and Quality: Apply evidence and strengths based best practice approaches in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care.

  4. Cultural Reflection: Examine and reflect on how your own culture and dominant cultural paradigms influences perceptions of, and interactions with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

  5. Cultural Advocacy: Recognise that the whole health system is responsible for improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Advocate for equitable outcomes and social justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and actively contribute to social change.

Your task

Over the next two weeks we will explore these cultural capabilities and help to support you to deliver cultural safety in your practice. Before we get started, first take a moment to reflect on your own experiences in health care.

  • What do you need to feel safe and secure with your healthcare provider?
  • What skills and qualities make you feel at ease?
  • Have there been instances when you did not feel safe or respected?

Share your thoughts and experiences using the comments link below.


The Australian Government. The Department of Health. (2014). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework

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This article is from the free online course:

Safer Healthcare for Australia's First Peoples

Griffith University