Cultural Identity an Awareness in Australia


Cultural awareness is your acknowledgement that there is a difference between cultures, not only within a social and economical bias, but spiritually and traditionally. This acceptance of difference is necessary for you to be open and respectful to difference and avoid stereotypical barriers. Cultural awareness allows you to appreciate the Indigenous perspectives and the different way they interact in society. Cultural training, participating in Indigenous community events, or interacting within Indigenous communities can help to educate you in cultural awareness.


The important factor to cultural safety is not to focus on other people's cultural identity, but your own. By understanding and reflecting on your own culture you can realise the impact it has on the way you think and behave. Cultural safety is the actions you take to recognise and respect another culture. Cultural safety is creating an environment within health and community services for Indigenous Australians that is spiritually, socially and emotionally safe. It is to create an environment that respects someone's cultural identity and meets their needs, rights and expectations.

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Legislating that impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety is:

  1. Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976 - Commonwealth of Australia.
  2. Native Title Act 1993 - Commonwealth of Australia.
  3. Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 - Queensland
  4. Stronger Futures Policy 2011 - Commonwealth of Australia.
  5. Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 - Victoria.
  6. Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act 1984 - South Australia.
  7. Racial Discrimination Act 1975 - Commonwealth of Australia.
  8. Aboriginal Communities Act 1979 - Western Australia.

You need to be culturally aware and sensitive when delivering services to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander clients.

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It is important to tailor services to their cultural expectations to provide the best possible outcome for the service you are providing. Indigenous Australians generally perceive services as a system to suit the needs of mainstream Australians. To quell this argument, service providers must ensure that they offer their service in a way that acknowledges the cultural aspect and expectations of the person and/or community utilising the service.

By employing Indigenous Australians within the service organisation this will help in a variety of beneficial ways. As indigenous communities change throughout Australia, service delivery will need to be tailored to suit their differing needs. The indigenous employees will be a communicative link between the organisation and the community, forming relationships with the elders and helping with translation, interpretation and explanations of services. They will be able to provide awareness of cultural diversity such as their traditions, customs, laws and behavioural characteristics. In turn, this will provide a bridge between you and the indigenous community allowing you to identify the impact of your service delivery.By developing a service specifically for Indigenous Australians, they will be more likely to welcome and accept the service.Factors that impact the health and social engagement of Indigenous people are:

  1. Low literacy and education levels are linked to poor health as this affects a person's capacity to understand health and legal information.
  2. Lower income reduces access to medicine and health services.
  3. Overcrowded housing due to poverty leads to the spread of communicable diseases.
  4. Poor diet when children are young due to poverty, lead to chronic diseases later in life.
  5. Chronic stress due to social and economic status has health consequences such as substance abuse, violence and mental health issues.
  6. Chronic stress can also lead to a range of health problems, particularly diseases of the circulatory system which is the biggest killer of Indigenous people Australia wide.
  7. Lower socio-economic status is linked with higher rates of imprisonment and higher rates of death in custody.
  8. Lower socio-economic status is linked with smoking and high risk behaviour.
  9. Inter-generational problems due past removal of children (Stolen Generation) causes present day parenting, health, mental and discrimination issues.
  10. Inter-generational problems due to colonisation, loss of culture and loss of land causes higher incidences of self destructive behaviour.
  11. Secondary exposure to trauma can cause children to be exposed to family violence, child abuse, neglect and substance misuse.
  12. Racism has an affect on mental and physical health.
  13. Racism or discrimination by health workers contributes to an unwelcoming service.
  14. Health services that aren't culturally appropriate.
  15. The colonisation impact on dietary and infectious diseases.

Factors that contribute to ill health and common diseases in Indigenous people are:

  1. Nutrition : Colonisation - Changes is diet due to the introduction of Westernised foods has led to obesity, malnutrition, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and tooth decay.
  2. Nutrition : Socio Economic - lower healthy eating intakes.
  3. Nutrition : Remote Living - Access to fresh food is limited and it is easier to buy processed foods.
  4. Nutrition : Lower literacy and education levels - Less informed on the benefits of healthy eating choices.
  5. Physical Activity : Lower levels of physical activity or sport were undertaken by Indigenous children and adults.
  6. Body weight : Indigenous people are 1.3 times more likely to be obese than Non-indigenous people. Having a higher BMI contributes to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
  7. Immunisation : Lower rates of immunisation of Indigenous children.
  8. Housing arrangements : Overcrowded housing due to poverty leads to the spread of communicable diseases.
  9. Chronic stress : Social and economic status has health consequences such as substance abuse, violence and mental health issues. It can also lead to a range of health problems, particularly diseases of the circulatory system which is the biggest killer of Indigenous people Australia wide.
  10. Substance abuse : Smoking, alcohol and illicit drugs can have health and social consequences.

Access to health and community services can be encouraged by developing services specifically for Indigenous Australians. It is important to tailor services to their cultural expectations, to provide the best possible outcome for the service you are providing.To help Indigenous Australians feel comfortable to accept and use the service on offer, the following strategies should be implemented:

  1. Service admission and entry procedure forms should be simple to understand and easily translatable.
  2. Discharge processes are easy to understand and followed through.
  3. Referral and diagnostic services should be culturally sensitive.
  4. Services should provide culturally sensitive privacy towards men and women's business.
  5. Screening services should be easily explained and non-threatening.
  6. Services should offer a language interpreter.
  7. Services advertised are done using culturally specific language and ideas that indigenous people can relate to.
  8. There should be cooperation between service organisations, communities and elders.
  9. Advisory organisations available that objectively help indigenous people understand services.
  10. Reception areas should be welcoming with local language and artwork.
  11. Outpatient services are available for specific needs.
  12. Health and community programs that are available for all communities whether urban, rural or remote.
  13. Employment of Indigenous people within the service.
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
Cite this page

Cultural Identity an Awareness in Australia. (2019, Aug 20). Retrieved from

Cultural Identity an Awareness in Australia essay
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