Cultural safety

Council requires doctors to meet cultural safety standards. Cultural safety focuses on the patient and provides space for patients to be involved in decision-making about their own care, and contribute to the achievement of positive health outcomes and experiences.

Council is dedicated to investigating ways of working together to improve cultural safety. Cultural safety benefits all patients and communities, and has a central role in health equity.

Current statement

  • Cultural safety

    This statement outlines what cultural safety means and why it is important. The document reflects the evolution of thinking away from the cultural competence of doctors – that is acquiring skills and knowledge of other cultures – towards self-reflection of a doctor’s own attitudes and biases that may affect the cultural safety of patients. Council requires doctors to meet these cultural safety standards.

Key documents

  • Cultural Safety Baseline Data Report - October 2020

    This independent report, produced in partnership with Te Ohu Rata O Aotearoa (Te ORA), outlines findings of the current state of cultural safety and health equity delivered by doctors practising in Aotearoa New Zealand, and experienced by patients and whānau.

  • Māori experience disparities in outcomes compared to the rest of the population across nearly all areas of health due to inequity in determinants of health, including access to quality health care. This document outlines Council’s position on how doctors can support the achievement of best health outcomes for Māori. It also provides guidance for healthcare organisations to support cultural safety and Māori health equity. This document should be read in conjunction with Council’s Statement on cultural safety.

  • Council, in partnership with Te Ohu Rata o Aotearoa (Te ORA), jointly hosted a highly successful symposium on cultural competence, partnership and health equity on 25 June 2019. The theme of the symposium was Mahia te mahi, hei painga mō te iwi, Getting the job done for the wellbeing of the people. The event aimed to investigate ways of working together to improve cultural safety in order to work towards eliminating health inequities. This booklet brings together the presentations and whakaaro shared at the symposium.

  • This statement acknowledges that health inequities and inequalities continue to exist for Māori, and that there are disparities in the delivery of health care to Māori. It encourages all health organisations to examine their partnership with Māori through genuine engagement, representation and participation.

‘Welcome to practice in Aotearoa New Zealand’ workshops for international medical graduates

Te Kaunihera Rata o Aotearoa I Medical Council of New Zealand (Council) held three ‘Welcome to practice in Aotearoa New Zealand’ workshops in May 2022 for international medical graduates (IMGs) who had recently gained registration in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The purpose of the workshops was to introduce IMGs to Council’s standards on professionalism, cultural safety, and health equity within the Aotearoa New Zealand context.

Evaluation results showed the workshop was effective in achieving the intended learning outcomes, useful in educating IMGs on key aspects of good medical practice and cultural safety in Aotearoa New Zealand, and successful in influencing changes to the doctor’s practice.

Cultural Safety Training Plan for Vocational Medicine in Aotearoa

In February 2023 Te Ohu Rata o Aotearoa | Māori Medical Practitioners Association (Te ORA) and Te Kaunihera o Ngā Kāreti Rata o Aotearoa | Council of Medical Colleges in New Zealand (CMC) launched their Cultural Safety Training Plan for Vocational Medicine in Aotearoa (January 2023), informed by the Literature and Environmental Scan of Cultural Safety in Medical Training (January 2023).

Te ORA and CMC have contributed significantly to Council’s work in cultural safety to date, which continues to grow in importance in medical care. These publications will greatly assist colleges and other organisations in embedding cultural safety in vocational training and CPD programmes for doctors.

Council is delighted to see the launch and implementation of these resources.

Other resources