Young Aboriginal women are consistently identified as having poorer health outcomes and access to sexual health services than non-Indigenous Australians. Yet the literature is particularly silent on what sexual health nurses need to know and do in order to work well with young urban Aboriginal women. This paper reports on a qualitative pilot study undertaken by a non-Indigenous nurse in Adelaide. The participatory action research methods used in this study were sensitive to the history of problems associated with research in Aboriginal communities. A reference group of Elder Aboriginal women and Aboriginal health workers guided all aspects of the study. A partnership approach between the researcher and the Reference Group ensured that the methods, analysis, and final report were culturally safe. Three groups participated in this study: Elders and Aboriginal health workers; young Aboriginal women, and sexual health nurses. All participants acknowledged the importance of nurses being clinically competent. However, the overarching finding was a lack of a clear model of cultural care to guide health service delivery. Three interrelated themes emerged from the data to support this contention. These were: the structural and personal importance of establishing and maintaining trustworthy relationships between nurses, Aboriginal health workers and Elders; the recognition that Aboriginal culture does exist, and is important in urban areas; and the importance of gender considerations to understanding urban women's health business. A partnership approach was recommended as a way to use these findings to develop a transparent cultural model of care. Further research is currently being undertaken to progress this agenda.
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