Cultural Safety in Conference Planning

This article is presented from the perspective of Ngiyampaa academic Mark Lock as a way to reflect on his private research practice about enabling cultural safety and cultural security through governance. In this case, it is about the governance of a conference planning session. 

Question: Can there be culturally safe and secure conference planning?


By Dr Mark J Lock, Founder & Director, Committix Pty Ltd


I have been to many conferences but have never been involved in their planning, so I thought that my involvement in this conference planning series would be a way to see how I could positively influence the process by ensuring that the governance of the series could occur with cultural safety and security in mind.

I take my perspective from this definition of cultural safe and secure healthcare governance:

‘ when cultural safety is evident at every point and pathway of the healthcare system then Australia’s First Peoples can trust that it is culturally secure for them, their families, and their communities’ .


By implication, how can every point and pathway of conference planning reflect cultural safety and security? I attempt to answer that question by describing the steps of the conference planning day.

But really, I reflected, is it necessary to think about culturally safe and secure conference planning? My view of conferences is jaded after having attended so many of them over the last 20 years I felt that the outcomes from them did not result in my empowerment. Rather, I felt that the conference environment was a competitive market for ideas, personalities, performances, attracting funding, and political maneuvering. The importance of knowledge sharing? And genuine relationship building? Seemingly, secondary aims.

How could I influence this process so that knowledge sharing and genuine relationship building were core outcomes?

Click here to read about my experience of the Centre for Healthcare Knowledge & Innovation’s culturally safe conference planning day.


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