The influence of yarning circles: A cultural safety professional development program for midwives

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Fleming, Tania
Creedy, Debra K
West, Roianne
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Background: A university educated, First Peoples health workforce is paramount to improving health outcomes for Australia’s First Peoples. However, a significant gap exists between the academic success of First Peoples and non-Indigenous students. The facilitation of culturally safe learning and teaching environments by academics is essential to closing this gap. There is little research on midwifery academics’ understanding of Cultural Safety and the translation of this understanding in learning and teaching. Objectives: To explore the influence of yarning circles within a professional development program to enhance midwifery academics’ awareness of Cultural Safety. Methods: A six-month staff development program which consisted of two workshops and a series of yarning circles was offered to all midwifery academics. Eight participants agreed to be interviewed after completion of the program. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, read and re-read, and analysed using a six staged thematic analysis process. Results: Six key themes centred on participants’ Sense of Belonging, Sense of Safety, Sense Knowing, Sense of Support, Sense of Difference, and Sense of Challenge were identified. These concepts were supportive of participants’ developing awareness of Cultural Safety. Conclusion: Yarning circles can encourage midwifery academics’ awareness of Cultural Safety. Awareness is the first step towards becoming culturally safe. Yarning provided a safe and supportive space for challenging discussions and reflective learning about racism, white privilege, and difference. Midwifery academics described steps they could take to promote Cultural Safety in the classroom.

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Women and Birth

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This publication has been entered into Griffith Research Online as an Advanced Online Version.

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Biomedical and clinical sciences

Cultural safety

First peoples


Learning and teaching

Midwifery academics

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Fleming, T; Creedy, DK; West, R, The influence of yarning circles: A cultural safety professional development program for midwives, Women and Birth, 2019