The impact of racism

Racism in the Australian health system has a long history. Many Aboriginal people have had negative experiences when accessing health care, including nursing services. Developing cultural safety strategies within a health service may help to relieve negative anticipation.  For articles on cultural safety and Aboriginal people.

One way that Aboriginal people have sought to combat racism within the health-care system and ensure cultural safety is through the development of Aboriginal Health Worker roles.  Local Aboriginal Health Workers have knowledge and insights that a non–Aboriginal person may not have, which can be vital in care planning and working collaboratively. Aboriginal Health Workers are a pivotal component of health services and they have been central to Australia’s HIV response for over 20 years.[9]   It is important that nurses acknowledge the insights and cultural bridging that Aboriginal Health Workers can provide.  Ultimately, Aboriginal people are like all other clients, and respond to respect and compassion.  As mentioned earlier, confidentiality must be managed carefully when working alongside an Aboriginal Health Worker and clearly defined boundaries about information shared must be in agreement with the HIV-positive person.  It cannot be assumed that is it all right to share information with all health workers or that consent to share information encompasses everyone in a family or community.

Many large hospitals have Aboriginal Liaison Officers and an individual may value their support.   Some Aboriginal people may decline the involvement of an Aboriginal Liaison Officer due to concerns regarding privacy and confidentiality.  Find out the name of the local Aboriginal Liaison Officer and obtain the client’s permission before making referrals.