There has been a lot of talk about what Australians can do to help ‘close the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians says Bronwyn Lumby from the Centre For Cultural Competence Australia (CCCA) and this new Centre has started something quite different.
Like many of us, CCCA believes the first step to closing the gap is through education.
Indigenous Research and Development professionals, Bronwyn Lumby and Dr Terri Farrelly, have developed a series of online, accredited, competency-based cultural training courses which help non-Indigenous Australians increase their understanding of Indigenous cultures.
Bronwyn is a descendant of the Nukunnu people from South Australia but lives in the Illawarra in NSW.
She has lectured in Aboriginal Studies and Cultural Diversity and been involved in Indigenous health since 2001. In 2005 Bronwyn and Terri started an Indigenous Research and Development Consultancy – The Echidna Group.
Bronwyn and Terri have worked on the concept of cultural competence and explain the difference between Cultural Awareness and Cultural Competence:
“Training relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture is often referred to by the term ‘cultural awareness’. However cultural awareness is an outdated concept which has been criticised widely for its many shortcomings, particularly its failure to effect change in behaviour and therefore service delivery.
Another major challenge with ‘cultural awareness’ is that participants typically do not have to display the achievement of any competencies. Therefore, cultural awareness programs and sessions that do not have assessments and measurable outcomes cannot be defined as training.
‘Cultural Competence’ has been defined as:
…a set of congruent behaviours, attitudes and policies that come together in a system, agency or among professionals and enables that system, agency, or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.
And the process in which the:
…professional continually strives to achieve ability and availability to effectively work within the cultural context of the client.
Operationally defined, cultural competence is:
…the integration and transformation of knowledge about individuals and groups of people into specific standards,
policies, practices, and attitudes used in appropriate cultural settings to increase the quality of services, thereby producing better outcomes.
WHY COMPETENCE IS MORE APPROPRIATE
From an organisational perspective Cultural Competence focuses on the attributes of the service provider and service provision and is best viewed as an ongoing process that organisations continue to strive towards.
For an individual, Cultural Competence is the ability to identify and challenge one’s own cultural assumptions, values and beliefs. It is about developing empathy and appreciating that there are many different ways of viewing the world, as this is influenced by culture.
Cultural Competence Training has competencies which must be achieved and which are recognised and accredited by a Registered Training Organisation.”
CCCA works with both the private and public sector and recently signed a contract will see 550 employees from the NSW General Practice Network undergo CCCA online training to ensure an effective service, a culturally appropriate workplace, and reduced racism in NSW.
In the next 12 months they will be training around 100,000 professionals, including staff at the Department for Health and Ageing, the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, the Benevolent Society and the GP NSW equivalent in other states.
CCCA’s online training has been acknowledged by General Practice NSW as a prerequisite for face-to-face local community engagement and accredited by:
The cost of training for CCCA licence is $495.00 + GST. The online course can be completed in 7 – 10 hours at the student’s convenience.
Sounds like an excellent, modern approach to an old, old problem.