Embracing cultural diversity at work

A new social innovation program launched this week in WA aims to equip aged services with the knowledge and skills to capitalise on the cultural diversity of its workforce while reducing turnover and getting better outcomes for clients and residents.

A new program that aims to build a culturally competent and engaged aged care workforce that can better meet the challenges of Australia’s increasingly diverse population, was launched in Western Australia this week by that state’s training and workforce development minister, Terry Redman.

Developed with funding from the WA Premier’s Social Innovation Grant program and piloted in two large provider organisations in WA, Culture, Communication and Relationships at Work (CCRW), is a free resource available to aged services providers in that state and elsewhere.  

The resource kit includes program materials, facilitator guides, participant workbooks and organisational guidelines, which are downloadable for free or available in print format for a small cost.

Co-developer of the resource, Fortis Consulting, says CCRW targets the highly culturally diverse aged care, disability and community service sectors, with the broad objective of building a harmonious, culturally diverse workforce where cultural diversity is seen as a positive attribute and each person’s contribution is valued.

Specific aims for the program include reducing communication barriers related to different languages and cultures across the workforce, enhancing supervisor skills and reducing levels of staff turnover, all of which will lead to better outcomes for residents and clients.

Aged care providers Brightwater Care Group and Juniper, part of the Uniting Church Community in WA, were the two organisations involved in the development and piloting of the program.

Not political correctness

CEO of Brightwater Care Group Dr Penny Flett, said their most recent concern has been how best to support its staff in a very diverse workforce context.

“Our 2000-strong workforce represents 60 ethnic backgrounds, with only 11 having English as their first language,” Dr Flett said.

“We are all learning to understand much more about each other’s cultural beliefs, expectations and experiences, and we are learning how to communicate more effectively with each other and the people we care for. 

“This program is helping Brightwater to ensure we keep creating an environment in which our people want to work, and in which our residents, clients and their families thrive,” she said.

Juniper chief executive Vaughan Harding said having competency around culture was key in aged care and disability care.

“It goes beyond political correctness, becoming integral not just to staff productivity but also in achieving quality care outcomes for clients and residents. 

“Programs like this endeavour to improve cultural competency can only enhance the benefits derived from a diverse workforce,” said Mr Harding, who is national president of Aged and Community Services Australia,” Mr Harding said.

Program materials are publically available and can be downloaded from: www.fortisconsulting.com/ccrw.

Tags: brightwater-care, cultural-diversity, fortis-consulting, juniper, wa-government, workforce,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *