Cultural Safety Training for Physiotherapists in Australia | Academically

Cultural Safety Training for Physiotherapists in Australia

Jun 14, 2024 3 min read
Physiotherapists in Australia

Key Takeaways:

  • Cultural Safety Training is designed to educate physiotherapists about cultural diversity and ensure culturally safe practices in healthcare.
  • This training is crucial for all international physiotherapists seeking registration in Australia, especially for interacting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Australia, the land of kangaroos, is known for its multiculturalism, with rich cultures and backgrounds forming the foundation of its society. As the healthcare industry reflects this diversity, it is vital that practitioners, including physiotherapists, understand and respect the cultural differences of their patients. This is where cultural safety training comes into play, especially for overseas-trained physiotherapists seeking registration in Australia.

What is Cultural Safety Training in Australia?

Cultural safety training is designed to educate healthcare professionals on the importance of respecting and acknowledging the cultural backgrounds of the country’s residents. It goes beyond cultural awareness and cultural competence, focusing on creating a safe environment for patients from all walks of life. The training encompasses a wide range of topics, including:

  • Understanding cultural diversity
  • Addressing power dynamics
  • Effective communication
  • Patient-centred care

Who is Required to Undergo the Council’s Cultural Safety Training?

All international physiotherapists (since 15 January 2020) who have chosen the following pathways are required to complete the Cultural Safety Training:

  • Standard Assessment Pathway 
  • FLYR Pathway
  • Equivalence of Qualification Pathway 

The Australian Physiotherapy Council conducts the Cultural Safety Training. 

Why Should the Cultural Safety Training Needs to be Completed?

In Australia, it's crucial that healthcare professionals deliver care that is culturally safe, especially when interacting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has established that physiotherapists practising in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand need to work effectively with individuals from cultures different from their own.

What is the Format of the Cultural Safety Training?

The Cultural Safety Training is an online program with six learning modules, taking about 5 hours to finish.

The program's content follows the five main aspects of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Curriculum Framework, making sure that all key areas are covered thoroughly. The content and duration is as follows:

When Should the Cultural Safety Training be  Completed?

Application and Payment: When you apply for your Eligibility Assessment, you also pay for the Cultural Safety Training. This applies to both the Equivalence of Qualification and Standard Assessment pathways.

Access to Training: Once you apply and pay, you will receive an email from the University of Melbourne's Mobile Learning Unit with instructions to access the online Cultural Safety Training modules.

Assessment Processing: While you complete your training, the Council processes your application for the Eligibility Assessment. You can check their website for the expected processing times.

Passing the Exam: You need to complete all the training modules and pass the Cultural Safety Training exam with at least an 80% score.

Certificate of Completion: After passing the exam, you and the Council will receive a Certificate of Completion from the University of Melbourne, showing that you've finished the Cultural Safety Training.

Next Steps for Standard Assessment Candidates: If you're in the Standard Assessment pathway (including Express FLYR & FLYR Pathway), once you finish the training and your Eligibility Assessment is approved, you'll get an Interim Certificate. This lets you move on to the Written Assessment stage.

Next Steps for Equivalence of Qualification Candidates: If you're in the Equivalence of Qualification pathway after you complete the training and your qualification is found to be equivalent, you'll receive a Certificate of Substantial Equivalence of Qualification. This confirms your qualification's equivalence for physiotherapy in Australia.

What is the Cost of Cultural Safety Training?

The current fee required for the Cultural Safety Training is AUD 228. To stay updated, you can visit the official website of the Australian Physiotherapy Council. 

APC Exam
APC Exam Written Assessment

What are the Benefits of Cultural Safety Training?

The Council's online Cultural Safety Training is developed with the University of Melbourne and offers several key benefits and learning outcomes for those who complete it:

Understanding Indigenous Culture: You'll learn about the history and present-day culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Defining Cultural Safety: You'll understand what cultural safety means and why these communities often feel unsafe in healthcare settings.

Providing Culturally Safe Services: You'll discover important information that physiotherapists should know to deliver culturally appropriate and safe care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Dispelling Myths and Stereotypes: The training helps you identify and correct common misconceptions and stereotypes about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Recognising and Addressing Racism: You'll learn to spot racist behaviour and find ways to avoid it, ensuring it doesn't affect your interactions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Applying Culturally Safe Practices: The course teaches you how to use culturally safe approaches in various physiotherapy clinical settings.

Why is Cultural Safety Training Important for Overseas-Trained Physiotherapists?

For overseas-trained physiotherapists seeking registration to practise in Australia, cultural safety training is crucial for several reasons:

Regulatory Requirements: The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and other relevant bodies may require cultural safety training as part of the registration process. Understanding the local cultural context is key to gaining approval to practise.

Patient Trust and Rapport: Establishing trust with patients is essential for effective treatment. Cultural safety training helps physiotherapists create a welcoming environment where patients feel heard and respected.

Reducing Health Disparities: Acknowledging and addressing cultural differences can help reduce disparities in healthcare outcomes, ensuring that all patients receive fair and equal treatment.


Cultural safety training is inevitable for providing high-quality healthcare in a diverse society like Australia. For overseas-trained physiotherapists, this training is not only a regulatory requirement but also a valuable tool for building successful patient relationships and ensuring equitable care. By embracing cultural safety, physiotherapists can contribute to a more inclusive and respectful healthcare system in Australia.

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Q: What is Cultural Safety Training?

Ans: Cultural Safety Training is an online program for physiotherapists in Australia that focuses on cultural diversity, creating safe environments for patients, and promoting culturally appropriate care, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Q: Who is required to complete Cultural Safety Training?

Ans: All international physiotherapists who want to register to practise in Australia must complete this training. It applies to the Standard Assessment Pathway, FLYR Pathway, and Equivalence of Qualification Pathway.

Q: How long does Cultural Safety Training take to complete?

Ans: The training consists of six modules and takes about 5 hours to complete. You need to score at least 80% to pass the final exam.

Q: Why is Cultural Safety Training important?

Ans: It ensures physiotherapists are equipped to work with people from diverse cultures, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This helps build trust, reduce health disparities, and promote equitable healthcare.

Q: What is the cost of Cultural Safety Training?

Ans: The fee for the Cultural Safety Training is AUD 228. This fee is subject to change, so it's best to check the Australian Physiotherapy Council's website for updates.

Nuha Mariyam
Nuha Mariyam
about the author

Nuha Mariyam has more than three years of experience in content writing. She strongly believes in the power of creativity and the impact that it makes. With a keen eye for detail and a love for words, Nuha specialises in creating engaging and informative content across various fields, including healthcare.