Creating a safe work environment (including psychosocial) is a legislated requirement in all states and territories in Australia.  As an example, the Queensland Government Code of Practice identifies 14 psychosocial hazards that can arise from or are related to being in a place of work. These are outlined below, which have been contextualised for student placement planning, with links to relevant ClinEdAus pages:

Psychological hazard Considerations / Resources
High and/or low job demands
Low job control
Poor support
Low role clarity
Poor organisational change managerment
Low reward and recognition
Poor organisational justice
Poor workplace relationships including interpersonal conflict
Remote or isolated work
Poor environmental conditions
  • Local policy and procedures
Traumatic events
  • Local policy and procedures
Violence and aggression
  • Local policy and procedures
  • Local policy and procedures
  • Local policy and procedures

Useful resources:

  • Griffith University:  Psychological risk
  • University of Sydney: Module 1:  Setting up the learning environment. (Justine Dougherty BAppSc(Phty), MPhty(Cardiorespiratory), GradCertEd, MClinSim, FHEA Lecturer | Discipline of Physiotherapy (Placements) | Faculty of Medicine and Health (ClinEdAus has permission from University of Sydney to share this adaptation.
    Should you wish to use this adaptation or access the online learning modules, please contact The University of Sydney directly to seek necessary copyright permissions).
  • Check your local jurisdiction for relevant legislation and resources

Creating a safe environment for student placements

Clark (2020) outlined four stages of psychological safety including:

  1. Inclusion safety – people need and want to feel included
  2. Learner safety – people are safe to learn, make mistakes and ask for help
  3. Contributor safety – people are safe to contribute, can identify skills they lack
  4. Challenger safety – people are safe to challenge the status quo and identify what needs to improve without judgement.

In the context of student placements, “Psychological safety” refers to a student’s belief as to whether or not it is safe for them to take interpersonal risks, such as asking questions, sharing an idea for improvement or speaking up to maintain patient safety (Hardie et. al, 2022).

Creating cultural safety

Cultural safety is an additional consideration for psychological safety of First Nations students on placement. Cultural safety is about creating an environment that is safe for First Nations People. This means there is no assault, challenge or denial of their identity and experience. Cultural safety is about: Shared respect, shared meaning and shared knowledge.

Resources to support the provision of psychologically safe learning environments:

Supervisors must be mindful that psychological safety is not just about their own actions, but the practices, values, resources, and the governance of the organisation in which they work.



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