Best care is respect for culture

Why would a nurse not want to give the best possible care to a patient in their care? I’ve been wondering about this since a nurses group have said that cultural safety is anti white.  The code, released this week, is basically standardising the codes of practice used around the country already. It is saying that instead of just a suggestion that it should be standard. No problem one would think, surely it makes sense to respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customs and beliefs? It’s no different to respecting the cultural mores of the Muslim and Jewish people. It’s no different to respecting the rules of the Seventh Day Adventist or the Mormon faith.

Nurses respect people from other countries and if they need interpreters they call for them to ask a patient what is needed, what can be done to help them. Surely any reasonable person can see that. But no, the NPAQ have painted this as a racism issue. This group, that I must emphasise is not a union, claimed that nurses would have to apologise for their white privilege to any Indigenous patient.  They claim nurses will leave the profession. If this means a nurse quits, well then, good. We don’t want racist nurses being in charge of our pain relief.

Racism isn’t just a mental health problem, it’s a physical one. How do you heal if you are not getting pain relief, because a nurse or doctor thinks you are a drug addict. The is just one issue, imagine being completely ignored by the nurse because of your race, it happens too often. My people face racism all the time, but when in hospital you are not up to fighting for your basic humanity to be recognised.

Cultural Safety is not a white against black issue, it certainly isn’t anti-white by any stretch, I don’t know how a person can turn a matter of simple respect into a racist question.  A group like the NPAQ is another loud voice that encourages racism, that encourages the lies and stereotypes that my people have been fighting against since Cook landed.

Read the full Code and you will see that, the NPAQ is lying to gain members, pitting black against white.

I had a nurse ask me on Monday, if i wanted an apology before she gives care and she admitted she didn’t know much about it, just that Peta Credlin was talking about it. I wouldn’t trust anything Peta says about nursing, she isn’t a nurse, I recommended the questioner read a brilliant article by Janine Mohamed for IndigenousX. She read it and came back and said it was a lot of fuss about nothing. Why wouldn’t a nurse want to do all they can to help a patient.

As a patient, I want my nurses and doctors to be respectful of my culture and my illness. Racism affects mental health and physical health, how to you heal from a surgery if you are writhing in agony because a medical professional won’t give you pain relief, because they believe Aboriginal people have a different pain threshold.  How do you sleep in a hospital when you can hear nurses saying racist things about Indigenous people. How do you get treatment when you are fobbed off as a drug user. Racism is a huge problem and if we have Cultural Safety written into codes it not only benefits Indigenous Peoples wellness, it breaks down the barriers. A bit of understanding of original culture of this land is something that should be standard and should start from school and continue through life.

I have simplified the issues here, but I am more focused on the patient who has to fight for their dignity.


About proudblacksista

An Aboriginal woman. mother of 4 diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour 7 years ago.I want to share my story to help others. I am working to help other Aboriginal people face the battles of Cancer. Email me with your stories or concerns at View all posts by proudblacksista

4 responses to “Best care is respect for culture

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