Creating spatial, relational and cultural safety in online social work education during COVID-19

Bindi Bennett*, Dyann Ross, Trevor G. Gates

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial, relational and cultural safety are critical elements of trauma-informed social work practice, gaining momentum in social work education. Culturally responsive and trauma-informed pedagogical approaches meet the definition of safety. The aim is to create a democratic, collaborative, and reflexive space whereby students and educators can feel simultaneously supported in the diversity of their respective lived experiences and learning. The challenges in fostering these learning and teaching spaces are reflected upon at one Australian university which responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by quickly transitioning to online learning without prior planning and consultation. The reflection describes the challenges and opportunities in delivering online content and the use of spatial, relational and cultural safety to navigate these challenges. The authors demonstrate the Aboriginal practice of social Yarning for use in online classrooms. Yarning helps educators and students attend to safety as an integral dimension of social work education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1660-1668
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number8
Early online date11 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


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