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Current predictions are that by 2021, one in three seniors will have been born outside Australia.
Examples at an organisational level include actively seeking to develop a culturally diverse board, workforce and volunteer base; engaging with diverse cultures within the community; and being prepared to fundamentally diversify workplace culture.
Individual examples include recognising that each of us has a culture and it shapes our values, beliefs and view of the world.
But the service user may be from a particular Aboriginal community where resources are expected to be shared, and where a car with spare seats going from community to town is nonsense.
If the worker is from the same cultural group as the client, they may well be put under significant cultural pressure to adhere to the community values, while under workplace pressure to maintain policies and procedures.
Look to the cultural diversity clearing houses and ethno-specific organisations for examples of strategies for how to negotiate tricky terrain such as where a cultural view does not sit comfortably with, say, a reablement strategy, or with non-negotiable expressions of mainstream culture, such as program guidelines, regulations or laws.
In fact, the mainstream is increasingly culturally diverse, and cross-cultural environments are ‘the norm’ in everyday service delivery.
A 2012 report by the National Institute of Labour Studies identified that one in four workers in community care is fluent in a language other than English (this includes second generation Australians who speak their parent’s first language as well as English).
An individual example includes considering cultural difference as being involved when misunderstandings occur, or where the client disengages.
Working in community care means being prepared to learn and work within cultural interpretations that may not be your own.
An organisational example would be conducting a cultural competency audit or self assessment.