CEH Training Team
Working with migrant and refugee communities can be a deeply rewarding experience, but it can also present unique challenges that require a high level of cultural understanding. We all have a responsibility to ensure that our services are accessible and responsive to the needs of these communities. We discuss cultural diversity, communication needs and how bias can play out. In this large topic we must challenge ourselves to remain relevant and use a lens that best serves our sector.
At CEH we believe cultural competence is most effective when it begins with individuals and extends systemically across the workplace through policies and procedures. In an attempt to keep the cultural competence framework in the spotlight and affirm its relevance to our work today, let’s glance at other frameworks for comparison. But first, let’s get a refresher on the meaning of cultural competence.
What is Cultural Competence?
Cultural competence is the ability to effectively interact and communicate with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. It involves a set of behaviours, attitudes, and policies that enable you to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.
Why is Cultural Competence important?
Cultural competence is a vehicle for understanding our histories and backgrounds and helps us see our clients more objectively. This process leads to more equitable and responsive services for more clients. It also contributes to a more diverse and inclusive workforce, inspired and creative people who are happier with their jobs. And let’s face it, you may have some budget to spend or an accreditation box to tick off too.
Other cultural models – Cultural Humility and Cultural Safety
Think of cultural humility as an extension of cultural competence, looking at how our cultural beliefs impact our skills and knowledge of others. Cultural Humility has often been described as a long term commitment to self-reflection. The key features include self-reflection, recognition of own implicit bias and how these can impact power balance and addressing power imbalances and privilege. Using this framework in isolation is limited to the single person and the way we use cultural competence is about the person, the systems, the programs and the organisation. Consider, for effective change to occur, must the process be more systemic, more holistic?
Cultural safety has a historical basis in work by Maori nurses in New Zealand and continues to be a common framework when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. This approach is person centered. Dignity during interactions and respect for all aspects of culture remain at the core of the practice. Akin to cultural competence and cultural humility, self-reflection is believed to be of high importance.
Cultural competence is a multi-layered process, not without its own drawbacks, that just like people and culture itself, has no end and is constantly remodelling and is a lifelong learning experience. For the framework to be used effectively it can be thought of in the following ways:
- a process that is organisational in nature
- part of a professional development plan that is a work in progress
- a contribution to organisational change, not the complete solution
- requires regular training and professional development.
We have briefly unpacked some topical concepts. We continue to learn and redefine what cultural competence means to us and we encourage you to join us on this quest. Over and above the terminology or the framing, we can provide practical application in our training programs.
Looking for self-paced learning?
If you prefer self-paced education, then the module on cultural competence is for you. It is a good introduction and conversation starter, especially on hot topics like bias and how do you best communicate with others who don’t mean what they say. The training is for all levels and all job types.
Ready for a workshop?
Discover how to work more effectively with migrant and refugee clients through our interactive workshops. We include a look into cultural diversity, how to defy stereotypes and unconscious bias, and strategies and techniques to communicate more confidently. Participate in rich discussions and tackle some of the challenges you are currently facing.
Thanks for reading. Tune in for the next one.
Siri, Jolyon and Andrea