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Cross cultural competence training

Speech pathologists should be trained in cross-cultural competence with particular reference to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Reference: Betancourt, Carrillo & Green, 1999
NHMRC level of Evidence: GPP

In order to commence the journey towards developing cultural competence and providing cultural security to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, it is essential that speech pathologists engage with cultural competence training. Such training is known to enhance client engagement with health services and improve health outcomes. It is recommended that this training be carried out regularly.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians’ experiences are likely to be different from non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians’ in terms of access to health services, manifestations of the disorder, people’s construction of the problem and acceptance of treatment modalities due to cultural differences (Ariotti, 1999). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander concepts of ‘health’ differ from a Western view (Maher, 1999).   Cultural and spiritual components of wellbeing are as important as physical considerations in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander view of health.  It follows then, that the view of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australians on ill health and disability will likewise be influenced by cultural, spiritual and physical components.  This view encompasses the tenets that make up culture and identity and includes responsibility to and interconnectedness with family, community and country.  Contextual family and community background information is increasingly recognized as crucial in shaping ACD interventions when communication and social re-integration are desired outcomes (Kagan et al., 2008; Gordon, Ellis-Hill & Ashburn, 2008; Howe, Worrall & Hickson, 2008). This is especially relevant in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander context when the therapist is likely to be non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and unfamiliar with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander world views, priorities, taboos, ways of relating to others and verbal and non-verbal self-expression. 



  1. Betancourt, J., Carrillo, E., & Green, A. (1999). Hypertension in multicultural and minority populations: Linking communication to compliance. Current Hypertension Reports, 1, 482-488.


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Professor Linda Worrall
The University of Queensland
ST LUCIA QLD 4072   



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