The influence of yarning circles: A cultural safety professional development program for midwives

Tania Fleming, Debra K. Creedy, Roianne West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A university educated, First Peoples health workforce is paramount to improving health outcomes for Australia's First Peoples. However, a significant gap exists between the academic success of First Peoples and non-Indigenous students. The facilitation of culturally safe learning and teaching environments by academics is essential to closing this gap. There is little research on midwifery academics’ understanding of Cultural Safety and the translation of this understanding in learning and teaching. Objectives: To explore the influence of yarning circles within a professional development program to enhance midwifery academics’ awareness of Cultural Safety. Methods: A six-month staff development program which consisted of two workshops and a series of yarning circles was offered to all midwifery academics. Eight participants agreed to be interviewed after completion of the program. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, read and re-read, and analysed using a six staged thematic analysis process. Results: Six key themes centred on participants’ Sense of Belonging, Sense of Safety, Sense Knowing, Sense of Support, Sense of Difference, and Sense of Challenge were identified. These concepts were supportive of participants’ developing awareness of Cultural Safety. Conclusion: Yarning circles can encourage midwifery academics’ awareness of Cultural Safety. Awareness is the first step towards becoming culturally safe. Yarning provided a safe and supportive space for challenging discussions and reflective learning about racism, white privilege, and difference. Midwifery academics described steps they could take to promote Cultural Safety in the classroom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages11
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


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