Focus Topics

topic 2_old | Activity 4: Communication principles when caring for Aboriginal people

The second key practice principle when caring for Aboriginal people is to communicate with the individual, their family and community and Aboriginal Health Workers in a sensitive way that values cultural safety. [1]

Such communication can require you to:

  • Ensure that the right information is being shared with the right people [2]
  • Identify the nationhood of the Aboriginal individual
  • Check with the individual and their family about what is appropriate to talk about
  • Consider culturally safe communication strategies relevant to the individual and their family (eg, teleconferences, family meetings and translators)
  • Allocate an appropriate amount of time to facilitate meaningful discussions
  • Start interactions simply ‘having a yarn’ and allow the conversation to progress slowly to the point at hand and at the same time incorporate patient and family education
  • Confirm that information has been understood.
  • Avoid using medical jargon
  • Complete a comprehensive, holistic clinical assessment
  • Identify, respond to and document specific cultural and spiritual needs, ceremonies or practices, including post death
  • Support families who have large numbers of visitors. Consider moving the individual to a larger room near the ward entrance. [1, 2, 3]
  1. ‘ Yarning’ allows the longer narrative to be told
    • What is your understanding of ‘yarning’?
    • What is its relevance in end-of-life care?
  2. Access the CareSearch Talking Together page. Outline specific strategies you might use to apply these principles in practice.
  1. Commonwealth of Australia. (2004). Providing culturally appropriate palliative care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Resource Kit. Retrieved 9 December 2011, from
  2. McGrath, P. (2010). The Living Model: An Australian model for Aboriginal palliative care service delivery with international implications. Journal of Palliative Care, 26(1), 59-64.
  3. Taylor, K., Guerin, P. (2010). Health Care and Indigenous Australians: Cultural safety in practice. Melbourne, VIC: Palgrave Macmillan.