1530 – 1630
The Dental Board of Australia and the new National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards have specific requirements to meet the cultural safety needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The ongoing failure to meet these needs is a significant driver of the poorer health care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared with non-Indigenous Australians. An example of this failure in general health is the finding by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 20% less likely to receive appropriate coronary care when hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome. In oral health Aboriginal children attending a School Dental Service have, at age 9, twice the unmet treatment need of non-Aboriginal children. Furthermore the recent AIHW report on Closing the Gap revealed that social determinants and risk factors account for only 53% of the health gap; it is proposed that the remaining 47% is due to racism, intergenerational trauma and lack of cultural safety. Cultural safety is a major philosophical shift away from providing care regardless of difference to care that takes account of the unique health needs of people within their personal cultural milieu. It requires health practitioners to:
• understand their own culture;
• develop self-reflection;
• acknowledge the potential for their culture to impact on the treatment they deliver; and
• manage the power inequity in their clinical interactions. Elements of developing cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within oral health care include knowledge of:
• The Australian history of colonisation, dispossession and racism.
• Personal and organisational culture.
• Racism and anti-racism.
• Effective identification processes.
• Strength based approaches.
• Creating collaborative partnership.
This 60 minute presentation will provide an introduction to the complex topic of cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in an oral health context.