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Indigenous clients intersecting with mainstream nursing: a reflection

Submitted: 27 November 2015
Revised: 21 September 2016
Accepted: 5 November 2016
Published: 3 March 2017

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Author(s) : Trueman S.

Citation: Trueman S.  Indigenous clients intersecting with mainstream nursing: a reflection. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2017; 17: 3822. Available: (Accessed 19 October 2017). DOI:


Context:  Mental health care for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in rural and remote locations is delivered primarily by nurses. Culturally safe therapeutic interventions can promote understanding and improve care. Reflective knowledge thinking, writing and practice can support nurses to practice cultural safety.
Issues:  Two instances of mental health care for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients are described in this reflective piece of writing. The care provided in both instances was culturally inappropriate and/or inadequate. I was an agent or observer in both cases, which happened during my employment as a mental health nurse in Australia. The first story, ‘the traumatisation of Client A’ describes an instance where I, from a place of ignorance, acted without cultural sensitivity and knowledge. I restrained and observed a client in a way that accorded with workplace policy but, at the same time, failed to take into account the circumstances and cultural safety of my client. The second story, ‘the misunderstandings about Client B’, occurred much later in my career. This time, I engaged with the client, acted with cultural safety, listened to his story and was able to clear up misunderstandings surrounding his presentation to hospital.
Lessons learned: The two events described in this article led me to discover the nurse I was then and the nurse I have become now. In comparing the two events and my level of awareness and understanding of Aboriginal peoples, along with my own actions, I reflect on my own journey of discovery, which has informed and shaped my awareness as a culturally safe and more sensitive nurse.

Key words: Australia, Australian Aborigines, cultural safety, mental health nursing, reflection, reflective practice.

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