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embracing differences and promoting inclusion

Workplace leaders, including employers, supervisors and union representatives who are culturally competent respect multiple cultural ways of knowing, seeing and living, celebrate the benefits of diversity and have an ability to understand and honour differences.

In practical terms, it is a never ending journey involving critical reflection, of learning to understand how people perceive the world and participating in different systems of shared knowledge.

Cultural competence is not static, and our level of cultural competence changes in response to new situations, experiences and relationships. The three elements of cultural competence are:

  • attitudes
  • skills
  • knowledge

These are important at three levels:

  1. individual level – the knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and behaviours of individuals
  2. service level – management and operational frameworks and practices, expectations, including policies, procedures, vision statements and the voices of children, families and community
  3. the broader system level – how services relate to and respect the rest of the community, agencies, Elders, local community protocols.

While there is no checklist to tick off to identify culturally competent workplace leaders, we can start to build a picture of the attitudes, skills and knowledge required. For example, workplace leaders who respect diversity and are culturally competent:

  • have an understanding of, and honour, the histories, cultures, languages, traditions, child rearing practices
  • value individual’s different capacities and abilities
  • respect differences in families’ home lives
  • recognise that diversity contributes to the richness of our society and provides a valid evidence base about ways of knowing
  • demonstrate an ongoing commitment to developing their own cultural competence in a two-way process with families and communities
  • promote greater understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing and being
  • engage in ongoing reflection relating to their cultural competence

[1] Educators’ Guide to the Early Years Learning Framework p21 Educators’ Guide to the Framework for School Age Care, p57
[2] Educators’ Guide to the Early Years Learning Framework p23
[3] Framework for School Age Care in Australia p15 Early Years Learning Framework p16
[4] SNAICC 2012 Consultation Overview on Cultural Competence in Early Childhood Education and Care Services
[5] Early Years Learning Framework in Action p 27
This article has been adapted from one written by Rhonda Livingstone, Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority’s National