What does it mean to be culturally competent?
Cultural competence is about our will and actions to build understanding between people, to be respectful and open to different cultural perspectives, strengthen cultural security and work towards equality in opportunity. Relationship building is fundamental to cultural competence and is based on the foundations of understanding each other’s expectations and attitudes, and subsequently building on the strength of each other’s knowledge, using a wide range of community members and resources to build on their understandings.
We have known for a long time about the importance of respecting diversity and embedding a range of cultures in early childhood education and care programs. However the term, cultural competence, is relatively new to many working in the education and care sector, having been introduced in the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia and the Framework for School Age Care.
Over the past two or three decades we have endeavoured to challenge and address injustice, racism, exclusion and inequity through legislation, awareness raising, rights education and an anti-bias curriculum. Cultural competence reinforces and builds on this work.
Read the full article on ACECQA's We Hear You blog
Educators’ Guide to the Early Years Learning Framework p21 Educators’ Guide to the Framework for School Age Care, p57
Need some help in understanding what it means to be culturally competent?
Quality Area 1 focuses on each child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture, abilities and interests as the foundation of the program (Element 1.1.2).
Embedding respect for diversity into the program helps children build awareness, encourages positive attitudes towards cultural differences and helps children respect culturally diverse experiences and practices.
The learning frameworks are always a good place to start if you need some help understanding what it means to be culturally competent. Make sure you are familiar with My Time, Our Place – Framework for School Age Care, Belonging, Being and Becoming – The Early Years Learning Framework and The Early Years Learning Framework In Action. The Educators’ Guide to these frameworks unpacks the concept of cultural competence in more depth.
Child Australia has published the Cultural Connections Booklet, which you can download for free. The booklet contains suggestions for staff activities and examples of practices to guide children to respect and treasure diversity.
The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) has published the Cultural Competence in Early Childhood Education and Care Services, SNAICC Consultation Overview. The paper explores definitions of cultural competence and points out the importance of cultural competence for outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.
Early Childhood Australia has also published useful factsheets on understanding cultural competence.
If you are after cultural competence factsheets specific to school age care, have a look at the cultural competence factsheet on the My Time Our Place website.
If you would like further information on the relationship between cultural competence and children’s mental health and wellbeing, have a look at the Kids Matter factsheet on culture.
A wealth of further information can be found by browsing the Inclusion Professional Support Program (IPSP) online library or speaking to your local Professional Support Coordinator, Inclusion Support Agency, Indigenous Professional Support Unit and/or peak organisation. The Inclusion and Professional Support Program has also published a cultural competence factsheet specific to engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities.
For non-Indigenous mentors, trainers and teachers, making the transition from a western-focused early childhood setting to working in the intercultural context of a remote community can be challenging. You’re in new Country now: Advice for Non-Indigenous Early Childhood Mentors, Trainers and Teachers is a useful resource compiled by Rebekah Farmer and Lyn Fasoli, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Studies in partnership with Charles Sturt University. This culturally informed resource has been produced by remote Indigenous early childhood educators and links to existing relevant literature.
NAIDOC Week 6-13 July 2014
NAIDOC Week is celebrated each July and recognises the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This year, the theme Serving Country: Centenary & Beyond honours all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have fought in defence of country.
Events are being held across the country and we’ve included some ideas from NAIDOC on how your service can celebrate:
- display Indigenous posters
- invite local Indigenous elders to speak at your service
- create your own Aboriginal art
- read a Dreamtime story
- listen to Indigenous music
Visit the NAIDOC website for more ideas and further information.
Services continuing to excel
Services across the country are continuing to excel, with three more services rated Excellent by ACECQA.
CPS Children’s Centre in Victoria and the University of Western Australia (UWA) Learning Centre in Western Australia are the first services in their respective states to receive the Excellent rating. Kindamindi Pre-School was recently added to the list of services in NSW that have earned an Excellent rating.
All three services demonstrated a range of outstanding programs and practices that support the National Quality Standard and have shown a commitment to improving the quality of education and care provided to children.
Read more about each service:
ACECQA has a number of new resources on its website including an online enquiries form and additional information for our qualifications checker. Educators in centre-based Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services can now use the online tool to check whether their qualifications are recognised.
We’ve also added two more information sheets to help providers: Reviewing your Quality Improvement Plan and Guidelines for documenting children’s learning. You can access the full list of information sheets here.
Provider and service forms have also been updated recently. If you’re completing paper-based forms, please make sure you are using the latest version. The forms are available on the ACECQA website or you can sign up to the NQA ITS to complete the forms online.
Read ACECQA’s We Hear You blog to read our latest post on Nurturing Nature.
Regulatory authorities issue new service supervisor certificates
Regulatory authorities will shortly be issuing the new service supervisor certificates to approved services.
Following amendments to the National Regulations on 1 June 2014, most individuals are no longer required to apply for an individual supervisor certificate (except in Western Australia). Instead, a service supervisor certificate is issued for each approved service and may apply to any person working at the service who is identified by the approved provider as:
- responsible for the day to day management of the service, or
- exercising supervisory and leadership responsibilities for part of the service, or
- a family day care coordinator.
You can find a detailed information sheet about the changes to the supervisor certificate requirements on the ACECQA website.
ACECQA has also updated the Guide to the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations with information about the new requirements.
For further information, contact your state or territory regulatory authority.