ACECQA’s National Education Leader, Rhonda Livingstone provides insight into National Quality Framework topics of interest.
Interacting with various cultures enriches our everyday lives. Building cultural competence in educators and children promotes equity, respect and valuing of different cultures. But as the Early Years Learning Framework and Framework for School Age Care show, cultural competence is much more than an awareness of cultural differences. It is the ability to understand, communicate and effectively interact with people across cultures and includes:
- being aware of your own world view
- developing positive attitudes towards cultural differences
- gaining knowledge of different cultural practices and world views.
The frameworks also promote respect for diversity and equity. Strategies include:
- reflecting on our personal biases
- challenging discriminatory viewpoints
- using resources that are culturally relevant
- adapting curriculum to children’s ideas, interests and culture
- drawing on the expertise of families and those belonging to a cultural group
- inviting guests from a range of cultures to visit your service
- using the reflective questions in the learning frameworks (EYLF pp.13, FSAC pp.11), such as ‘Who is advantaged when I work in this way? Who is disadvantaged?’.
Cultural competence also includes delivering a curriculum that respects the cultural identity, language and values of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Significant value lies in spending time with your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Suggested ‘first steps’ are:
- Make contact with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners and Corporations/ Co-operatives in your area
- Find out if your jurisdiction has an Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, such as the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc
- Contact your State/Territory Education Department for referral to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison workers
- Look up Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander training or support providers in your area, for example NGROO Education Inc in NSW and the Indigenous Professional Support Units (IPSUs) and/or the Professional Support Coordinator across each state and territory.
Further reading and resources Cultural Competence: Language Program Development Inclusive Directions. Engaging with Aboriginal Communities: Where do we start? Be You. Fact sheet: Supporting cultural diversity Cultural competence fact sheets for School Age Care. My Time Our Place (for OSHC services)