The IAHA Cultural Responsiveness Framework (the framework) was developed in 2015 in response to the need for practical strategies to strengthen the capabilities of individuals and agencies tasked with the responsibility of providing culturally safe and responsive care and services that meets the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

IAHA identified that, existing programs were heavily focused on awareness raising (of culture and history), with little attention to the actions individuals and workplaces needed to take in order to be culturally responsive. The IAHA Framework fills a void in the public domain for high quality action-oriented, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focused approach to cultural safety. It was designed by IAHA in collaboration with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and key stakeholders. It is highly interactive and centres around three driving principles through an Indigenous perspective – ‘Being, Knowing and Doing’ i.e. what do we need to know, be and do in order to be culturally responsive.

Cultural responsiveness has cultural safety at its core. Cultural responsiveness is what is needed to transform systems; how individuals work to deliver and maintain culturally safe and effective practice. It is innately transformative and must incorporate knowledge (knowing), self-knowledge and behaviour (being) and action (doing). It is about the approaches we take in engaging with people and how we act to embed what we learn in practice. This requires genuine dialogue to improve practice and health outcomes. Cultural responsiveness is the means by which we achieve, maintain and govern cultural safety.

The framework was revised in 2019 and has embedded an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing theory of change for individual, organisational, and systemic transformation.

The framework focus is on capability and development:

  • Respect for the Centrality of Cultures – identifies and values cultures, both group and individual, as central to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, wellbeing and prosperity
  • Self-Awareness – the continuous development of self-knowledge, including understanding personal beliefs, assumptions, values, perceptions, attitudes and expectations, and how they impact relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Proactivity – the ability to anticipate issues and initiate change that creates the best possible outcomes. This involves acting in advance of a possible situation, rather than reacting or adjusting to it
  • Inclusive Engagement – provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with opportunities to participate by reducing barriers, and engaging in meaningful and supportive ways
  • Leadership – inspiring others and influencing change to contribute to the transformation of the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities
  • Responsibility and Accountability – owning our role, and monitoring progress in addressing inequities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians

If you would like to be sent a pdf copy of the Cultural Responsiveness in Action: An IAHA Framework, or to enquire about booking an IAHA Cultural Responsiveness Workshop, please contact us on or ph: 02 6285 1010.