About this topic
In this first topic of the unit, we are going to discuss recognising and respecting a person's social, cultural and spiritual differences in order to support their independence and wellbeing.
It is important that you avoid imposing your own values and attitudes on others and work to support the person to express their own identity and preferences. You must recognise, respect and accommodate the person's expressions of identity and sexuality as appropriate in the context of their age and stage of life. Finally, this topic will discuss promoting and facilitating opportunities for participation in activities that reflect the person's individual needs.
Activity > Diversity in Australia
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
- People's Republic of China
Hi. I'm Julie Cahill, Human Resources Manager at Indigo.
There are many myths and rumours about immigration and refugee numbers in Australia. I like to check my facts before discussing such important issues.
Check out this great brochure I found online from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection – Australia’s Migration Trends 2013 – 2014 at a Glance.
Once you've had a look through, put the countries below into order from highest to lowest of the birthplaces of Australian immigrants in 2013.
Social, cultural and spiritual differences
The society in which individuals live helps to define the life options available to them. 'Individuals are in constant dialect with the social and cultural world (Groome 1995:5) and with the environment. Behaviour is guided, influenced and regulated by what we understand to be cultural principles.
This we identify and express ourselves according to cultural expectations. Our world view, social and environmental interaction, and the things (behaviours) we expect from ourselves and those with whom we closely associate are part of our cultural perception. Culture relates to lifestyle and artefacts, yet within our world society there are numerous different cultures. Cultures are conceptual and concern the ways in which we perceive ourselves and world around us. They impact on the ways in which we interpret reality while determining and shaping the way in which people interact with each other and with other cultures and peoples.
Groups of people
Within society there are numerous groups or affiliations of people who come together to interact because that have certain characteristics, beliefs or values in common. Culture, therefore, relates to family groups, religious or spiritual affiliations, peer groups, race, nationality, gender, sexual preference, age, employment, etc. The people within these groups learn particular behaviours from their association with these groups and continue to associate and identify with them so long as the group provide for their needs.
Individuals form and measure their own identities via social relationships - with family, friends and society at large - all of which impinge on their lives. Consciously and subconsciously individuals look to others of like minds to provide assurance and indicators of acceptance. From such assurance (or in some cases, lack of assurance) personal identity evolves. Culture, therefore, becomes a resource on which people draw to survive in ever changing life situations, providing resource material for the composition of and solutions to, social structural problems (Groome 1995:5).
Activity > Physical, social, cultural differences
Hi. I'm Toni Parker, Community Centre Manager at Indigo.
Every person is different with a wide range of differing needs in order to promote health and wellbeing.
Try the following activity to see if you can differentiate between people's social, cultural and spiritual needs and differences.
Social needsare those needs met by forging relationships and connections with other people
Spiritual needsare those which give life meaning and purpose and a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves
Cultural needsare the attitudes, customs, beliefs and values that help each person identify with a particular group
Acceptance of culture
Acceptance of culture as a concept implies delineation of difference, or otherness; both for those who identify with the culture and those who are identifying the culture. The danger here is that a preoccupation with cultural identity and its expression makes it easy to form generalisations and stereotypes about groups of people according to their cultural affiliation - those who are either inside or outside the culture.
Most of us belong to many groups
You must also be aware that each person will belong to a number of different cultural groups: family, educational, racial, and religious and age related groups for example. They will be influenced by all of these cultures.
For instance, there is a commonly held perception that Australia's youth are part of a specific culture - related directly to age. However, within the larger framework of youth there will be numerous groups and subgroups, with differing ideas, values and beliefs. Thus you must take care not to categorise people simply because of their age (or youth). Each group or subgroup will be different and these differences must be respected. Approach each group with an open mind and be prepared to recognise and respect individual differences within each group.
The same is true for ageing people and those with disabilities. There is often a perception that older people or those with disabilities are part of a separate culture. Whilst this might be partially true in some instances, people with disabilities are also part of the larger culture. Within that larger culture they have group affiliations in the same way that mainstream Australians do.
What can you do?
You must also not assume that what you believe all value is the same for everyone. Most people tend to interpret the words and actions of others in terms of their own beliefs and cultural norms, and in the conviction that these understandings a shared. This is not necessarily true. Just because you hold certain beliefs or expound particular values does not mean that these things will mean the same things to the people with whom you deal. Find out what is important to your clients, what values they hold and how they interact with the environment. Find out what the client’s needs are and work to address those needs -- not the needs that you perceive as being important.
It is important that service providers recognise the centrality of issues surrounding cultural, and individual or personal identity, in the lives of clients with a disability. These can be especially dominant for clients from minority groups whose status has become a cause of disadvantage. Disadvantage plays a pivotal role in the shaping of identity and demarcation of self worth. Aboriginal, ethnic and economically isolated groups can be disadvantaged groups. Service providers must be aware that in many situations a disadvantage itself becomes a cultural norm which dictates the ways in which group members relate to each other and to the external world. Again, allowance must be made and service providers must recognise and communicate their intent to aid in addressing this disadvantage.
Affirm the right of people to be different if that is what they choose and assist them with insights into their own culture, but do not perpetuate the paternalistic, patronising attitude which actually reinforces prejudice and discrimination on the basis of disadvantage. Treat all cultural groups and the individuals within them with respect. Affirm their diversity and work with them to solve problems and resolve issues.
You also have a role to encourage and support the involvement of family members in the lives of the people with a disability. Participation is greatly encouraged when support worker show awareness and respect for family cultural traditions and practices, for example assisting a person with a disability to host the family feast that breaks the traditional fast of Greek Easter. Remember that a person with a disability who comes from a non Anglo-Saxon cultural background is often doubly disadvantaged.
Activity > Multicultural health practices
If you are a worker in the health care or community services field you are going to come into contact with people from many different backgrounds, countries and cultures. Each one has their own unique set of challenges, customs and myths.
Check out this excellent reading I found from Queensland health called Community Profiles for Health Care Providers and then see if you can finish the activity below and get them all right first time!
FILL IN THE MISSING WORDS
- For Afghan Australians, a strong cultural stigma is attached to illness.
- Burmese refugees settling in Australia have been shown to have high rates of infectious diseases.
- For Cambodians a response of does not necessarily indicate agreement, but may indicate they are paying attention.
- The major causes of mortality for China-born people in Australia include ischaemic heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease.
- Ethiopians generally prefer interpreters of the same .
- Indian Australians usually greet each other with the word .
- In 2006, the most common religion for Iraq-born people in Australia was .
- Drought, famine and have caused large numbers of Sudanese refugees to seek refuge in other countries.