Cultural Safety Definition Debate – Intellectual Property and Copyright

1. Reference Publication– Dune, T., McLeod, K., & Williams, R. (Eds.). (2021). Culture, Diversity and Health in Australia: Towards Culturally Safe Health Care. Routledge. This has the following text:

“Cultural safety: An environment that is spiritually, socially and emotionally safe, as well as physically safe for people; where there is not assault challenge or denial of their edentity, of who they are or what they need.” (p. 3, 55, 73, 92, 213, 288).

That body of text is uncited.

The text is from Bin-Sallik’s (2003) article. Bin-Sallik, M. (2003). “Cultural Safety: Let’s Name It!” Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 32: 21-28, at

2. Bin-Sallik incorrectly cited the wrong text which comes from Williams’ (1998) unpublished presentation (here):

Williams’ (1998) paper shows the words quoted by Bin-Sallik. Those words are in an ordinary paragraph and in the context of research, not positited as an all-encompassing definition of cultural safety. It’s an unscholarly practice to ascribe unwarranted value to somebody else’s words.

3. In intellectual property terms, the Routledge Book uses the intellect of the words in a Cambridge Journal Article (the publisher of Bin-Sallik’s article) – without due credit and, in my view, breaching copright.

Why does this matter? In subsequent years you will see this: Dune, McLeod & Williams defined cultural safety as . . . [insert text from the book]. Thus, re-assigning intellectual credibility for this not-definition of cultural safety.

Intellectual property and copyright matter. I wouldn’t want my words being used out of context, which is what Bin-Sallik (2003) did by using Williams'(1998) not-definition.

4. Not long ago, I saw the Williams (1998) not-definition in this article:

Kurtz, D. L. M., et al. (2018). “Health Sciences cultural safety education in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States: a literature review.” Int J Med Educ 9: 271-285.

I highlighted the plagiarism to relevant stakholders, and the revised paper does not contain these words. Oh, the ‘7’ in the reference is National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health. Towards cultural safety for Métis: an introduction for health care providers; 2013 [cited 28 Mar 2018]; Available from:

5. My final point is about homogenisation of Indigenous Peoples, which I think is intellectually offensive. The paper by Kurtz et al. shows how the tag “Indigenous” is used to group First Nations Peoples together in one pot. Cultural diversity is gone such that my Country and lived experience is the same as someone in Canada. Scholars are practising intellectual collonisation by destroying heterogeneity – does that sound culturally safe to you?

It boils down to this: Bin-Sallik cites Williams’ (1998) paragraph as a “definition” (not factually correct) but gives intellectual credit to Williams’ (1999) journal article noting p. 213. Williams (1999) intellectually credited her definition to Eckermann et al. (1994), whose definition bears no resemblance to Williams’! Now, Williams’ paragraph-come-definition is uncredited in the book (Culture, Diversity and Health in Australia: Towards Culturally Safe Health Care).

Contribute to the debate in the Facebook group Cultural Safety and Security and on Twitter @MarkJLock1

By drlockediting

I apply my academic and cultural skills to editing your important writing. With a Doctor of Philosophy (Public Health), Master of Public Health, Honours in Nutrition, and a Bachelor of Science, I bring strong educational skills to my editing. As a First Nations Australia (Ngiyampaa), with First Fleet heritage (The Lucas Clan) and growing up in country NSW, I bring a unique cultural lens to my practice. My editing will empower your cultural safety - respecting your cultural identity, heritage, and values - so that your cultural voice shines through in your writing. If you need editing of your creative writing, academic writing, or report writing, then contact Cultural Safety Editing Service.

Leave a Reply