(1) According to the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (2010): ‘The term cultural competency refers to a long-term, developmental process that moves beyond cultural awareness (the knowledge about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people primarily gained through media resources and workshops) and cultural sensitivity (knowledge as well as some level of direct experience with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people). Cultural competency emphasizes the idea of effectively operating in different cultural contexts: knowledge, sensitivity, and awareness programs o not include this concept. Cultural competence aims to reduce barriers to high quality care experienced by Indigenous people and is directly linked to improving social and emotional wellbeing and mental health outcomes. ’ Cultural Competence What is cultural competence? Cultural competence is the ability to interact effectively with people across different cultures. It has four components: * Awareness of one's own cultural worldview (assumptions, biases) * A positive attitude towards cultural differences * Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews * Cross-cultural communication skills

What is cultural competence in health care? Culturally competent health care providers provide the best possible care for all their clients and work in the most productive way with all their colleagues. Everyone has a culture Cultural competence begins with the recognition that we are all born, raised and living in social, educational and organisational cultures. These cultures shape our assumptions, beliefs, values and behaviours. When we interact with others, the similarities and differences between our cultural expectations often make the interaction both more interesting, and more challenging.

In a health setting, these challenges must be met if we are to provide equitable, appropriate and accessible services to all our clients. Competent practitioners are culturally competent A person who is culturally competent can communicate sensitively and effectively with people who have different languages, cultures, religions, genders, ethnicities, disabilities, ages and sexualities. Culturally competent health staff strive to provide services that are consistent with the clients’ needs and values firstly by acknowledging them, and secondly by, wherever possible, responding to them appropriately.

Health care practitioners need to develop a broad repertoire of skills, knowledge, attitudes, perspectives and practices which they can use to enhance their cultural competence and direct their relationships with clients and colleagues. Cultural competence is about organisational competence It is very difficult to operate as a culturally competent practitioner without organisational support. SESIH is strongly committed to equality for clients and staff, and continues its commitment to the policies and principles of multicultural health. Benefits of a culturally competent workforce

Lack of cultural competence impacts on both clients and staff. Clients who feel that their concerns have not been understood, who feel they have been dismissed or ignored, or who have not received optimum services because of their cultural background or ethnicity or language will find it hard to develop a sense of trust in a practitioner or a service. Culturally competent health staff build trust and respect which leads to increased client satisfaction and improved health outcomes such as a better use of the staff and clients’ time, more accurate information, and more effective and acceptable outcomes for staff and clients.

Cultural competence benefits everyone. Why is culture so important in health care? Because health care is cultural. Although the scientific bases for medical treatment and care is considered ‘objective’, the way that we choose and use health services, whether we accept a diagnosis, how we decide if we will continue with a particular medical treatment, and the sorts of questions we ask health staff are all culturally influenced. Staff need to recognise the beliefs and values that affect our health decisions and take account of them when treating us (2)