Why is Cultural Competence Important?

Take a look at the following infographic for some interesting facts about the diversity that exists in Australia:

As this infographic highlights (and as we will have all experienced) Australia is a richly diverse country. With about 350 languages spoken here and around 250 different ancestries, our country is a beautiful mix of different cultures, languages, perspectives, and traditions. While some members of our community and political parties see this diversity as a challenge to a harmonious society, most would see the opportunity and richness it adds to us as a nation. After all, over half of our population was born overseas or has an overseas-born parent. As mentioned in Week 1, according to the 2021 census just over seven million people in Australia were born overseas, representing 27.6% of the population. This was an increase from 6.1 million, or 26.3%, in 2016 (https://www.abs.gov.au/articles/cultural-diversity-australia).

Given this data, being culturally competent is vital for a harmonious, well-functioning and high-performing community. If coaches can’t relate to their players, health professionals to their clients, teachers to their students, political leaders to their constituents, then their vision and goals will be hindered. 

Many organisations and departments have recognised the importance of cultural competence and embedded the principles of it within their policies.

Take a look at Queensland Health’s Organisational Cultural Competency Framework.

In this diagram above, Queensland Health have recognised that organisational cultural competence is an important factor in improved patient safety and health outcomes and have formalised legislation and policies to support that belief. See: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/multicultural/contact_us/framework

Next, take a look also at this from the NSW Government – their multicultural policies and frameworks:


Australia is a diverse country, and the opportunities that arise from this diversity can only be fully taken advantage of if we are culturally competent – that is that as professionals we have an awareness of cultural diversity and the ability to function effectively, and respectfully, when working with people of different cultural backgrounds. Cultural competence means a professional has the attitudes, skills and knowledge needed to achieve this.

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