Ms Robyn Glynn1, Mrs Moira Mau2

1Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service, Thursday Island, Australia, 2Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council , Bamaga, Australia


The gap in health status between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) Australians and non-Indigenous Australians remains unacceptably wide. One of the factors in improving health care is ensuring services are culturally responsive and safe to optimise access and effectiveness.

In a quality improvement activity, using a case study approach, two service providers, one Indigenous Home and Community Care (HACC) Service coordinator and one non-Indigenous occupational therapist, reflected on their five years of collaboration to make the outreach occupational therapy service culturally safe. The challenges and strategies were identified and were then compared with the literature on culturally responsive and safe occupational therapy practice.
The challenges, mostly consistent with the literature, were categorised thematically. These included cultural safety of Indigenous clients when receiving a home assessment service from a non-Indigenous clinician, difference in priorities between clinician and client, communication and the impact of cultural roles on therapy interventions and outcomes. The strategies identified from the case study included activities not documented in the literature.

Two key conclusions were that:

  • Partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous service providers can enable implementation of culturally safe and competent health professional practice that is consistent with research and service quality standards requirements.
  • Service hours need to be allocated to establish partnership and processes for culturally safe services


Moira Mau:Coordinator of the Northern Peninsula Area Home and Community Care Service. Has worked 16 years as a care support worker to acting supervisor now coordinator. Is committed to supporting people both from her Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal cultures to feel culturally safe to connect with visiting services
Robyn Glynn: Currently working primarily as an allied health manager with a component of clinical practice. Prior to this has worked for nearly 20 years in remote Australia providing occupational therapy services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities.

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