The impact of cultural safety and exposure to racism on job satisfaction, career progression and turnover intentions of Aboriginal staff

Mr Christian Wiley1

1Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, Penrith, Australia

Increasing the representation and participation of the Aboriginal workforce in the public healthcare sector is a key diversity and inclusion strategy. This research sought to investigate the experiences of Aboriginal staff and the variables that can influence attraction, retention and career development via a survey open in participating NSW Health sites between July and December 2020.

256 Aboriginal staff from 18 NSW Health agencies responded to the survey. The 35% of participants who had experienced racism directed at them personally from colleagues within the past 12 months were 2.7 times more likely to report thinking of quitting their job (95% CI 1.7 to 4.4, P<0.05) and 1.8 times more likely to identify barriers to career progression (95% CI 1.4 to 2.3, P<0.05). The 26% of participants who felt their organisation is culturally unsafe were 3.2 times more likely to be thinking of quitting their job (95% CI 2.1 to 5.1, P<0.05). Participants who lack confidence in their organisation’s racism complaints processes were 2.8 times more likely to report low job satisfaction (95% CI 1.3 to 6.2, P<0.05).

This survey identified that Aboriginal staff employed in NSW Health who perceive low cultural safety and have low confidence in racism complaints processes are more likely to report low job satisfaction, express an intention to leave and report barriers to career progression. Effectively managing cultural safety and racism within organisations can improve the employment experience and career development of the Aboriginal workforce.


Christian Wiley is the allied health workforce representative for Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD). This role is involved in initiatives that focus on allied health workforce development including research projects. Christian has a passion for evidence based practice, workforce diversity, talent development and quality improvement in the health system. He has a clinical background as a speech pathologist.

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