Developing a Culturally Competent Organisation The content provided in this document is intended to be used by organisations that:
provide services to Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islander persons
provide service to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) persons
have a small number or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees
have a limited awareness of, or access to, persons/groups with the required cultural expertise on which the organisation can consult when developing culturally responsive programs and services.
Organisations need to actively seek further information, advice, cultural competency training/support from the local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community representatives and/or specific other cultural groups as required.
This document aims to:
create awareness of culturally competent practices
assist or enhance the level of knowledge and understanding of practical ways to effectively and appropriately work with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people
identify ways to measure/assess the level of cultural competency
encourage the organisation to develop collaborative partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons and communities and culturally and linguistically diverse persons and communities
enhance the organisation’s capacity to provide a culturally responsive service that meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and culturally and linguistically diverse clients.
What is cultural competency?
Cultural awareness programs have been the primary method of developing a knowledge, understanding of, and sensitivity to Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) cultures. Although the importance of these programs cannot be undervalued, many concerns have been raised about the capacity of these programs to adequately measure the application of their learning and the impact on providing an improved level of service to cultural clients.
The term competency is generally understood to mean that proficiency or expertise in a specific area has been achieved. However, for the purpose of this document, cultural competency refers to the ability to apply a sound level of knowledge, understanding, sensitivity and appreciation of culture in a practical and appropriate manner.
Other definitions of cultural competency include:
The process in which the healthcare professional continually strives to achieve ability and availability to effectively work within the cultural context of the client (Campinha-Bacote, J. (2002). The Process of Cultural Competence in The Delivery of Healthcare Service: A Model of Care. Journal of Transcultural Nursing 13 (3), 181 – 184. A set of congruent behaviours, attitudes and policies that come together in a system, agency or among professionals and enable that system, agency or those professions to work effectively in cross-cultural situations (Cross, R et al 1989) Culture is always changing and therefore, achieving competency should not be perceived as being a process that ends. Cultural competency is an ongoing process and must be continually monitored, reviewed and adapted to meet the specific cultural needs of clients.
The Cultural Competence Continuum model below suggests there are five stages in developing cultural proficiency. Cultural proficiency must not be viewed as the final stage of cultural development and that no further development is needed. Due to the changing nature of culture and the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, individuals and organisations may need to work through the different stages of the continuum at different times on an ongoing basis. Cross, T., Bazron, B., Dennis, K., & Isaacs, M. (1989). Towards a Culturally Competent System of Care, Volume 1. Washington, DC: CASSP Technical Assistance Center, Center for Child Health and Mental Health Policy, Georgetown University Child Development Center
The Cultural Competence Continuum
Cultural Knowledge (Knowing)
Cultural Awareness (Understanding)
Cultural Sensitivity (Appreciating)
Cultural Competence (Practising and demonstrating)
Cultural Proficiency (Embedding)
Why do we need to be culturally competent?
In every aspect of service delivery, the organisation needs to be able to provide appropriate support in a manner that is responsive to the cultural needs of its clients.
Key outcomes of enhancing the cultural competency of a non-government organisation include:
improved service delivery
efficient and effective program delivery to, and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients
enhanced capacity to meet specific funding guidelines and service agreements
increased number of collaborative partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons and culturally and linguistically diverse persons.
How is cultural competence developed?
For a service to achieve cultural competence, principles of access and equity must underpin the service’s overall strategy and impact upon all activities throughout the entire organisation. (The Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of NSW)
Due to the diversity of cultures in Queensland, there is not a blueprint or a “one size fit’s all” model for that can be suitably implemented and applied to all cultural groups. Different groups will have distinct values, practices and beliefs. It is strongly recommended that the organisation consults with the local community to ensure relevancy and appropriateness.
Cultural competence can be applied on 3 levels:
Individual - refers to individual knowledge, skills, values and behaviours
Organisation - refers to an organisation’s management and operational framework and practices including policies, procedures, mission/vision statements, planning documents, services, etc.
Systematic - Every organisation works within a broader and global system, e.g. local, state, federal and international system with its own standards, legislation, regulations and infrastructure, etc.
This document is primarily focussed on developing culturally competency practices for individuals and organisations.
Where do we start?
The organisation needs to assess the current level of cultural competency of individuals within the organisation, and the organisation as a whole.
Individuals may consider the following:
Am I aware of culturally appropriate and inappropriate actions and attitudes?
Does my behaviour or attitudes reflect a prejudice, bias or stereotypical mind-set?
Do I have the skill to develop and assess my level of cultural competence?
What practical experience do I have?
Do I have knowledge of cultural practices, protocols, beliefs, etc?
Have I undertaken any cultural development programs?
Do I interact with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons?
Do I interact with culturally and linguistically diverse persons?
Have I worked alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons?
Have I worked alongside culturally and linguistically diverse persons?
Have I consulted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons or culturally and linguistically diverse groups?
Do I really want to become culturally competent?
What is my motivation?
Campinha-Bacote, J. (2002). Cultural Competence in Psychiatric Nursing: Have You "ASKED" the Right Questions? Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 8(6),183-187
Organisations may consider the following:
Context (organisational environment)
In relation to the organisation:
Does it promote and foster a culturally-friendly environment?
Is it located in an area where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons and culturally and linguistically diverse persons may wish to access services?
Does the staff display attitudes and behaviours that demonstrate respect for all cultural groups?
Practices (culturally inclusive)
Does the organisation:
involve or collaborate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons or groups or culturally and linguistically diverse persons/groups when planning events, programs, service delivery and organisational development activities
develop policies and procedures that take cultural matters into consideration
provide programs that encourage participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons and culturally and linguistically diverse persons
use appropriate communication methods and language, e.g. appropriate and relevant information communicated through user and culturally friendly mediums.
Relationships (Collaborative partnerships)
Does the organisation:
have knowledge of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups
have knowledge of culturally and linguistically diverse groups in the community
have knowledge of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander protocols
have knowledge of the protocols for communicating culturally and linguistically diverse groups in the community
actively involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander persons or groups and culturally and linguistically diverse persons or groups in the community
have a strategy for community engagement?
Service delivery (outcomes)
Does the organisation:
develop and/or implement a collaborate service delivery model with other organisations relevant to the specific cultural needs of the clients
provide culturally responsive services that meet the cultural needs of clients.
What do we do now?
Seek information, advice or training.
Participate in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community events and celebrations.
Participate in culturally and linguistically diverse community events and celebrations.
Establish consultative or reference groups with all cultural groups.
Establish networks with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse organisations.
References Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Support Plan - Guide. (2005) Victorian Government Department of Human Services. Melbourne.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Support Plan - Form. (2005) Victorian Government Department of Human Services. Melbourne.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Support Plan – Template. (2005) Victorian Government Department of Human Services. Melbourne.
Alvarez, Ana. (2005) Beyond Cultural Awareness: Working towards culturally appropriate responses. Homelessness and Individual Support Unit, Youth and Individual Support Branch.
Assuring Cultural Competence in Health Care: Recommendations for National Standards and Outcomes-Focused Research Agenda Recommended Standards for culturally and linguistically appropriate Health Care Services. (1999) HHS Office of Minority Health and resources for Cross Cultural Health Care.
Cross, T., Bazron, B., Dennis, K., & Isaacs, M. (1989). Towards a Culturally Competent System of Care, Volume 1. Washington, DC: CASSP Technical Assistance Center, Center for Child Health and Mental Health Policy, Georgetown University Child Development Center
Campinha-Bacote, J. (2002). Cultural Competence in Psychiatric Nursing: Have You "ASKED" the Right Questions?Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 8(6),183-187
Campinha-Bacote, J. (2002). The Process of Cultural Competence in the Delivery of Healthcare Services: A Model of Care. Journal of Transcultural Nursing 13(3), 181-184.
Campinha-Bacote, J. et al. (2005). the USA federal publication, Transforming the Face of Health Professions Through Cultural and Linguistic Competence Education: The Role of the HRSA Centers of Excellence. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration. Cultural Competency: The challenges posed by a culturally diverse society - and steps towards meeting them, pp 20-26.
Cultural Respect Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health 2004 – 2009. (2004) Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council. Department of Health. South Australia.
Durie, M. (2001). ‘Cultural Competence and Medical Practice in New Zealand’ – a report to the Australian and New Zealand Boards and Council Conference, Nov 2001. Palmerston North: Massey University.
Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of New South Wales. NSW Disability Service Standard: Cultural Competence Standards. http://www.mdaa.org.au/index.html
NSW Government.(2003). Respect, Acknowledge and Listen: Practical Protocols For Working With The Indigenous Community of Western Sydney.
Spears, S. (2004) ‘The impact of cultural competency course on the racial identity of MWS’, Social Work, Vol 74 (2), pp 271-288.
Sue, D. (1991) ‘A Model for cultural diversity training’. Journal of Counselling and development, 70, pp 99-105.
Tawara D. Goode. Georgetown University Centre for Child and Human Development -University Centre for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research & Service. Adapted from Promoting Cultural Competence and Cultural Diversity in Early Intervention and Early Childhood Settings - June 1989. Revised 1993, 1996, 1999, & 2002
Thomas E. A., Reeves, I., Morgan, O., Cornelius, L., Booker, N., Brathwaite, J., Tufana, T., Allen, k. & Donato, I. ( 2005) ‘Developing a Cultural Competence Assessment Tool for People in Recovery from Racial, Ethnic and Cultural Background: The Journey, Challenges and Lessons learned’, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, Vol 28 (3), pp 243-250.
Thomas, D. (2002) ‘Evaluating the cultural appropriateness of service delivery in multi-ethnic communities’, Evaluation Journal of Australasia, Vol 2 (2) pp 50-56.