Recently I taught the cluster of units pertaining to culture and diversity; teaching students the importance of inclusion and ensuring that all staff, families and children feel a strong sense of belonging in our education and care services.
I have taught these units for many years now and each time I do, something different challenges or changes me. This time, I was struck by a few words in a definition of cultural safety;
'An environment that is spiritually, socially and emotionally safe, as well as physically safe for people; where there is no assault, challenge or denial of their identity, of who they are and what they need. It is about shared respect, shared meaning, shared knowledge and experience of learning together.'
(Robyn Williams, 'Cultural Safety - What does it mean for our Practice?' Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 23 (2), 213-214)
The words that resonated with me, the words that kept me reflecting for days were simply, 'NO ASSAULT.'
All human beings have the right to their own identity. To be whoever they need to be. To live freely without fear of assault, be that verbal, physical or anything else that causes discomfort, exclusion or misunderstanding.
How horrible to live in fear of assault simply for being an individual, for simply being you.
The words no assault caused me to feel a certain urgency about encouraging students to work hard towards anti-bias education and care. Really, I'd like to encourage everyone to be the change needed in society, but my circle of influence is students and educators!
Educators; you make a difference. Your personal thoughts, values and attitudes impact your professional decisions and interactions. You (we) must reflect on this, identify any bias or fears and work towards deeper knowledge, understanding, respect, acceptance and a commitment to creating safe spaces for ALL individuals.
Assault of any kind, has no place in our services. Ever.
Be the difference. Be the change. It starts with you.