In 1994, Royal College of Nursing,Australia, with support from members, established a Transcultural Nursing Society. This move was indicative of nursing trends at the time relating to the growing interest in, and commitment to transcultural nursing education, research, management and practice.The Society reflected the College's preparedness to take a leadership role in forming a national group of nurses interested in fostering and promoting culturally relevant nursing care practice. In welcoming transcultural nursing, the College was the first nursing organisation to embrace this concept of care and give transcultural nursing a firm place as a discipline within the profession. Indeed the College remains the only national nursing organisation in Australia to support transcultural nursing with a Transcultural National Network for its members.
This paper will trace the journey of transcultural nursing in Australia from the perspective of the College, beginning with the formation of the Transcultural Nursing Society, highlighting achievements and continuing work over more than a decade of involvement and leadership in this important area of nursing practice.
DEVELOPMENT OF TRANSCULTURAL NURSING IN AUSTRALIA
In the early 1990s the College was creating specialty network groups for members - called Societies - to facilitate sharing of ideas, research, innovations in practice and education models, across a range of interest areas.The aim of the Societies was also to provide a structure of programs which would 'foster professional development of members, individuals and the profession' (RCNA Archive File 863a 1994-96). Importantly the Societies would be 'a mechanism for identifying and drawing upon the specific interests and expertise of members through whom the work of the College could be furthered'. These Societies included: Research, Education, Gerontology, Clinical Practice, Legal Issues, Ethics, and Transcultural Nursing. Over time there were changes in the nature and purpose of these groups with some rolling into other groups and new groupings being formed. Today there are fourteen such groups, which are now termed National Networks.
Having formed in April 1994, the Transcultural Nursing Society was one of the initial Societies, and resulted from strong representation from members. Dr Akram Omeri FRCNA was a prime instigator of the Society and the first Chair of the initial management group, and has remained the staunchest advocate for this group over the years. In addition, Dr Omeri has been an advisor to the College on issues relating to transcultural nursing, and continues in this role to the present time.
Initial canvassing of the College membership elicited overwhelming support for the establishment of a Transcultural Nursing Society. The comments from members were reflected in a letter from Olga Kanitsaki FRCNA of 5 October 1994 (RCNA Archive File 863b 1994-96) where she says of the College that 'It clearly illustrates its professional leadership, and responsibility to its members, and society at large'. An interim Management Committee was established in early 1995, with elections for the ongoing Management Committee in May of that year. In an interview at the time Dr Omeri claimed that 'The College's support was official recognition of the significance of transcultural nursing' (Omeri 1995). In the same article Dr Omeri described transcultural nursing as 'the comparative study of cultures and their caring practices'. Referring to Dr Leininger's work, she also said that 'transcultural nursing moved beyond ethnicity, examining issues relating to race, class, gender, religion, sexuality and age, identifying differences and similarities within cultures - the goal being to provide culturally specific nursing care' (Leininger 1989, 1997).
With these views forming a shared understanding within the new Society for transcultural nursing in Australia, the group aimed: to act in an advisory capacity on matters relating to transcultural nursing primarily to the College but also to external policy, education and health care groups; to facilitate the dissemination of transcultural nursing information to stimulate interest and effective nursing care practices; and to promote a positive image of transcultural nursing to the profession and governments; and enrich the knowledge and practice of Australian nurses in transcultural nursing. …