Growing and Healing with Cultural Safety: A critical framework for our sector

Domestic, Family and Sexual violence is a pervasive issue that affects people from all walks of life. However, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and communities, the challenges are compounded by historical, cultural, and systemic factors. To address this issue effectively, it is imperative that workers in the domestic and family violence, sexual violence and women’s health and wellbeing sector embrace cultural safety and strive for cultural appropriateness when providing services to First Nation peoples, who may access their services during crisis.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience domestic violence at higher rates than non-Indigenous Australians. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data from 2018, Indigenous women are about 32 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than non-Indigenous women.

Domestic violence and sexual assault among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is believed to be significantly underreported due to various nuanced factors such as distrust of authorities, fear of retaliation as well as complex relationships and community expectations.

The Growing and Healing with Cultural Safety project is a pilot project being delivered firstly in South EastQueensland, with aims to help our sector to have the confidence and support to create an environment where Indigenous clients feel respected, understood, and valued.

Growing and Healing with Cultural Safety will explore the impacts of colonisation, intergenerational trauma from dispossession, and how institutionalisation has contributed to the vulnerability of Indigenous peoples to sexual assault and violence.  It also aims to provide opportunity for Sector workforce to unpack unconscious biases in a safe environment.

Consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders, workers and members across the pilot region of South East Queensland has taken place over the last four months and WorkUP Queensland look forward to moving into Phase 2 of the project with the design, development and delivery of workshops, resources and tools.

This not only nurtures a more culturally inclusive and appropriate services for First Nations clients but also contributes to the broader goal of eliminating systemic racism. It is WorkUP Queensland’s hope that this training will be ongoing and become a crucial element of foundational training opportunities for our sector Statewide.

Collaboration with local Indigenous community organisations and leaders will be part of the processes implemented to gain insights into the specific needs and preferences of the local community. Building partnerships are a huge part of co-designing culturally appropriate and responsive wrap-around services, which greatly increases the chances of breaking the cycle of violence and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim/survivors in their journey to safety and healing.

We will be sending out a survey in the very near future, so if your service is in the SEQ and you would like to have input in the survey, please reach out to Lenore Wasaga or Rona Scherer at to be placed on our stakeholder engagement email lists.