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Building Cultural Safety in Times of Change (post-event resources)

December 29, 2023

Virtual Event Virtual Event

Building Cultural Safety in Times of Change

Two discussions, held online on 18 May and 24 July 2023, have concluded. Many thanks to all who participated, and shared their reflections and insights.

Within a safe and trust-building environment, sector leaders and managers in the NSW social service sector reflected on current issues and strategies to build culturally safe practices in the workplace, in the lead up to the 2023 'Voice to Parliament' referendum.

The discussions aimed to increase understanding on what the impacts of the Voice referendum might be, strategies for addressing racism, and building cultural humility and safety in the workplace in times of change.

Resources shared by participants

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the resources below belong to the content creators and not to NCOSS, its affiliates, or employees.

18 May 2023 (10:00 am-12:00 pm)

Websites for 'Yes' vote

Websites for 'No' Vote

24 July 2023 (1:00-2:30 pm)

To get everyone on a similar starting point, NCOSS recommended the following as pre-event reading.

Shared by participants during discussion:


A combined total of 133 participants engaged in the two ‘Building Cultural Safety in Times of Change' online discussions that NCOSS hosted.

In the second session, we started the conversation by looking at some research findings from Gari Yala, Speak the Truth: Centering the Work Experiences of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians 2020.

These include survey results indicating –

  • Clear connections between cultural (un)safety and racial discrimination/ harassment (e.g. 64% likelihood of Indigenous workers hearing racial or ethnic slurs or jokes at work)
  • Identity strain (e.g. 65% reported having to work harder to prove that an Indigenous person can do the job sometimes, often, or all the time)
  • Cultural load (e.g. 66% reported having extra Indigenous-related work demands placed upon them)

Two rounds of break-out sessions on in the July session provided an opportunity for participants to reflect further on culturally safe practices in their organisations (‘progress, barriers and commitments’), within the context of the Voice referendum.

As agreed with participants, the sessions were not recorded, for privacy/ confidentiality and trust-building purposes. Instead, broad themes and resources are published on this event page.

Whilst the sessions yielded fruitful insights, we echo the sentiment of one attendee who said, “my best learning has come through (direct) conversations and relationship building with First Nations colleagues and community members…”.

May such relationships and trust-building continue to grow in our sector, in these times of change.


Sincere thanks to Rowena Lawrie, founding director of Yamurrah, for facilitating the discussion on 18 May.

Yamurrah is a collective of First Nations clinicians, educators, consultants, and legal professionals; and is a leading provider, advocate, and crucial voice in the intersection of trauma, violence, and healing and recovery.

Belinda Field, CEO of Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services, joined Rowena in providing practical examples on how to support staff to support communities during the lead up to the referendum.

Big thanks again, Rowena and Belinda. 

Queries about this page to advocacy at


December 29, 2023


NSW Council of Social Service
View Organizer Website