Developing culturally safe education practices in optometry schools across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

on behalf of the Leaders in Indigenous Optometry Education Network

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Access to culturally safe health services is a basic human right, however through the lasting effects of colonisation, oppression, and systemic racism, the individual and community health of Indigenous peoples in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand have been severely impacted. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy of the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency, and the Standards of Cultural Competence and Cultural Safety of the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board of New Zealand, recognise the importance of access to safe health care for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori patients, which encompasses both clinical competency and cultural safety. Universities have an ongoing responsibility to ensure their learning and teaching activities result in graduates being able to provide culturally safe practice. This article highlights the emergence of culturally safe practices in the Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand optometry curricula over the last five years incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing into the curricula, understanding the local Indigenous histories and contexts, the adoption of online cultural education modules, and clinical placement partnerships with local Indigenous communities. Whilst there is still much work to do to achieve the goal of graduating culturally safe optometrists, this paper focuses on features that enable or impede progress in the development of culturally safe practices within the optometry programmes to improve eye health equity for Indigenous recognise the diversity of Indigenous cultures across Australia and NZ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-118
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and Experimental Optometry
Issue number2
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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