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Look at your cultural biases

Everyone has cultural biases and their own cultural lens from which they view the world. 

Reflecting on your biases requires you to be open to possibility, to learn new things about people and their culture and to be ready to acknowledge that some things you have learned are incorrect. It is important to reflect on your own cultural bias and to think carefully about the ideas and beliefs that you hold about other cultural groups.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I think I know about this cultural group?
  • What are my assumptions about parenting roles and norms of this culture?
  • What are my assumptions about disability in this culture?
  • What do I know about the cultural groups that live near my CSSC?
  • Where did I gain this knowledge?
  • Am I making assumptions or do I have real experiences of working alongside and learning from people from this culture?
  • How is this cultural group portrayed in the media and popular culture?
  • If they are portrayed negatively, what may be the reason for that?
  • How does this portrayal influence my ideas about this cultural group?
  • Are there aspects of this culture that I don’t understand or find difficult to relate to?
  • Who can I seek out who may help me see things differently?
  • How can I expand my knowledge and understanding about this cultural group?
  • Can I ask a trusted colleague to help me understand more about their culture?
  • What are my blind spots?
  • Can I ask a trusted colleague to notice and talk to me about those blind spots?
  • What do I know about the importance of religion for this cultural group?

Note

It is not possible to become an expert on every cultural group. It is possible to be a practitioner who continually strives to be a culturally competent worker and to create safe spaces when working with people who are culturally and linguistically diverse.

Cultural consultation

Your first contact with a family plays a pivotal role in establishing your working relationship. Because of this, it is important to identify cultural differences and the role culture plays for the child and family so you can respond effectively.

Explore available CALD resources online or in the community and consider contacting them to help understand cultural perceptions of disability, caring, and raising children. To make the most of your consultation, prepare questions to help you understand the child, family and community.

About the child or parent

Practice consideration

Consultation questions

What cultural information do I need to know so I can understand:

  • the child, the parents, their relationship with one another and their community
  • how the child or parent’s disability is viewed in the family’s culture
  • how the family’s culture views the causes or reasoning behind disability
  • what cultural practices may help to support the child or parent with their disability
  • What languages does this child speak?
  • What culture or religion does the child identify with?
  • Does ‘disability’ exist in this culture?
  • How is disability understood?
  • What cultural norms and beliefs should I be aware of when engaging with this child?
  • How can I talk to the family about the child / parent’s disability?
  • What is the best approach?
  • What words should or should not I use?

 

Interpreting services

When you are working with families where English is not their first language, you must give them the opportunity to have an interpreting service present during your interactions with them to ensure you are able to have meaningful dialogue. Also consider if there are further communication needs for a family member with disability. Family members may nominate for another person in the family, or a family friend to translate information for them, rather than a translator. In consultation with the family, establish an understanding of who is best placed to interpret.

Attention

Be mindful of family dynamics and the child protection concerns when supporting the family to arrange an interpreter. A person responsible for harm to a child should never be the sole person who interprets information to and from the child.

If a family chooses a formal interpreting service, the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) is an interpreting service provided by the Department of Home Affairs for people who do not speak English and for agencies and businesses that need to communicate with their non-English speaking clients.

Tip

See Communication in the chapter Engaging with a child with disability and integrate this professional knowledge with the family’s interpreting needs to develop a plan on how to best communicate with the family and ensure the child’s voice is heard. The plan, therefore, supports communication across language as well as the person’s communication needs regarding their disability.  

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