Northern Territory Government Remote Engagement and Coordination Online Toolkit

Cultural competency

What is Cultural competency and what does it mean to you?

Questions for self – reflection:

  • How have you come to understand cultural competence? What does it look like on a daily basis?
  • How do you ensure you remain aware of your own worldview and attitudes towards diversity and difference?
  • How do you ensure that particular cultural knowledge and practices are not given more value or importance than others?

Cultural competency – definition

The National Centre for Cultural Competence (NCCC) has identified five key components of cultural competence, as seen in the text box below.

1. A valuing of cultural diversity

This stage involves integrating respect for diversity into programs, policies and services and also recognising that members of certain cultural groups may have cultural as well as individual needs.

2. Conducting a cultural self-assessment

Organisations develop an awareness of their own cultures and communities, assumptions, and biases and identify actions to reduce such barriers.

3. Managing the dynamics of difference

At this stage the dynamics of cultural difference are proactively managed, improving the interactions between different cultures.

4. Acquiring and institutionalising cultural knowledge

As all organisations inevitably encounter cultural diversity, a need exists to integrate an understanding of different cultures into service delivery and practices.

5. Adapting to diversity and cultural contexts

At this stage cultural knowledge is embedded throughout the hierarchy of the organisation and policy, practices, service delivery and behaviours are adapted to fit the cultural diversity of the community engaged.

(Source: National Centre for Cultural Competence 2006)

It has also been defined as:

“The ability to identify and challenge one’s own cultural assumptions, one’s values and beliefs. It is about developing empathy and connected knowledge, the ability to see the world through another’s eyes, or at the very least, to recognise that others may view the world through different cultural lenses” (Fitzgerald 2000 cited in Stewart 2006)

The movement towards cultural competency involves the diminishing of ethnocentric attitudes, more open behaviours, greater flexibility and non-judgmental perceptions. (AOTA Inc. 2000).

Cultural awareness self assessment

Last updated: 01 Sep 2016