Creating a Culturally Safe Space When Teaching Aboriginal Content in Social Work: A Scoping Review

Terrina Fernando, Bindi Bennett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Teaching Aboriginal content in social work education presents risks of retraumatisation for students. There are international calls for a trauma-informed teaching model that creates cultural safety in the classroom. This study aimed to develop a trauma-informed model for social work education by reviewing the literature on cultural safety for Aboriginal peoples. This model incorporates key aspects of ensuring Aboriginal cultural safety: de-colonise social work education; collaborative partnerships; build relationships; critical reflection; develop cultural courage; and yarning and story-telling. It provides a valuable framework for creating a more equitable teaching and learning environment that also ensures the essential academic content is covered. IMPLICATIONS Trauma underlies the historical, contemporary and cultural narratives of Aboriginal peoples. Students engaging in Aboriginal content that is traumatic can mean connecting with trauma that has occurred in their own lives. Trauma-informed teaching and learning will ensure that educators create culturally safe spaces that enable students to engage well with content. The adoption of the framework proposed in this paper may lead to the creation of a culturally safe space for teaching and learning in social work education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-61
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Social Work
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


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