Cultural safety bibliography celebrates 'coming of age'

1 April 2013

Bibliography celebrates 'coming of age' of  New Zealand's cultural safety approach to nursing.

A bibliography tracing cultural safety from the late 1980s to today has been released by the Nursing Council to celebrate a major milestone for cultural safety.

Carolyn Reed, Nursing Council chief executive, said 2012 marked 21 years since the Council resolved that cultural safety would become part of the New Zealand nursing education curriculum.

“After considering several pathways to mark this significant milestone, the Council decided that gifting back to nurses a bibliographic resource was the most appropriate,” said Reed in her foreword to the recently released 46-page bibliography.

Dr Elaine Papps, chair of the Council at the time, in her more extensive foreword says the decision to present the bibliography as a timeline provided a “unique overview of cultural safety”.

The first entry is in 1989 with an article by the late Dr Irihapeti Ramsden, the nurse and nurse educator who introduced the concept of cultural safety and who in 1990 published Kawa whakaruruhau: Cultural safety in nursing education in Aotearoa.

In 1992 the Council released its guidelines for cultural safety in nursing and midwifery education and practice. Media attention followed soon after gathering steam in 1993 with the story of Christchurch nursing student Anna Penn garnering cultural safety a lot of negative press and airwave time, and then again in 1995, leading to the Education and Science select committee starting its own inquiry (later suspended).

“Throughout this turbulent time the Nursing Council did not resile from its commitment to cultural safety,” said Papps in her foreword.  The initial guidelines have been revised and the definition refined over time “but remains true to its original intent”. Cultural safety has been taken up by other health disciplines and researchers in other nations – particularly Canada and Australia. She noted that Canadian researchers in 2009 said that cultural safety would continue to hold value for nursing practice, research, and education when used to emphasise critical self-reflection, critique of structures, discourses, power relations and assumptions, and because of its attachment to a social justice agenda.

The bibliography can be downloaded at the publications page of the Nursing Council website: www.nursingcouncil.org.nz