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Culturally appropriate, or culturally responsive, care improves outcomes.

Our culture can affect the way we communicate, make decisions and manage our health. We work with health professionals and service providers to increase their understanding of the role culture plays in our lives, and our perceptions of health, wellbeing, disease and illness.

Culture can influence many things

We’re all different, but culture can influence things like:

  • our knowledge and beliefs about our health needs or the treatments we choose;
  • how much family and community support we need or have access to;
  • our ability or willingness to engage with health professionals, services and treatments; and
  • our past experiences when managing their own health.

What is cultural responsiveness?

Cultural responsiveness requires thinking about and exploring a situation from another person’s perspective.  

It can be challenging for people, because it means being open to new ideas that may conflict with the ideas, beliefs or values they have previously held. 

It means being respectful of everyone’s backgrounds, beliefs, values, customs, knowledge, lifestyle and societal behaviours.

It may include:

  • recognising different family structures
  • access to health professionals of the same gender
  • providing translating and interpreting services to support other languages
  • respecting and supporting food preferences
  • considering the role of religion and spirituality

Being culturally responsive helps you provide better care and support. It builds connections and understanding. It helps empower people to manage their own health and improves health outcomes. 

Cultural responsiveness is important for all social and cultural groups

This includes:
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • refugees or displaced migrants
  • people at all life stages, including end of life
  • people with different abilities, including intellectual and cognitive disabilities
  • LGBTQI people
  • people from significant populations and sub-cultures, such as the deaf and vision-impaired community.
  • Cultural responsiveness involves continuous learning, self-exploration and reflection. It draws on several concepts, including cultural awareness, cultural sensitivity, cultural safety and cultural competence.

Culturally responsiveness is an ongoing reflective practice

Cultural responsiveness is a lifelong practice. 

We encourage people to develop:

  • An awareness of their own culture and the way it has shaped their own values, biases and behaviours; 
  • An awareness and understanding of different cultures;
  • The ability to appropriately respond to their own attitudes, feelings and reactions that can arise from discomfort and difference;
  • Ways of working people that recognise cultural difference, but provide safety and support, not discrimination or destruction;
  • The ability to understand risk factors affecting specific groups, without categorising or stereotyping, and to take actions that enhance their healthcare outcomes; and
  • An understanding of what structural and service changes are required to deliver people the support, services and care they need.

Are you a healthcare professional or service provider who wants to know more?

We can help.

We exist because we want our mob to get the disability support they need. We’d love to help you improve your understanding and the quality of care and support you can give our people. 

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