Problem: It is not well known how to prepare new multidisciplinary teams aiming to provide culturally safe maternity care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in an urban setting.
Background: National policies recommend increasing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce and cultural competencies of the non-Indigenous workforce as key drivers of culturally safe care.
Question: What are the key learnings from staff experiences establishing multidisciplinary teams aiming to provide culturally safe maternity care that aims to privilege Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing?
Methods: As part of a larger participatory action research project, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted December 2014–April 2015 with 21 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous healthcare staff. Thematic analysis was used to identify learnings for practice.
Findings: Four key learnings were identified for forming new teams aiming to provide culturally safe care: (a) having a shared understanding of what characterises cultural safety in the local program context; (b) understanding and valuing different roles and knowledges people bring to the team; (c) acknowledging the influence of race and culture on staff behaviour; and (d) acting on individual and organisational responsibilities for continuous improvement towards cultural safety.
Discussion: We present recommendations from our participatory action research approach to respond to these learnings in practice.
Conclusion: A deliberate workforce investment at the early stages of team development is crucial when aiming to provide culturally safe maternity care that can respond to the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and families.