Recommendations for Improving Cultural Competency When Working with Ethnic Minority Families in Child Protection Systems in Australia
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Australia's research and knowledge base on cultural competency has been slow to develop. To help address this gap, the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) funded a large scale study in this area, which included a detailed literature review. The paper reports on key findings from that review including that collectivist values are at odds with 'child-centred' philosophies of child protection; there is an inherent tension between the right to equal protection from harm and the right for respect in cultural differences in parenting and family functioning ('cultural absolutism' versus 'cultural relativism'); there are factors that uniquely characterise 'the migrant context' (especially lack of awareness of child protection laws and systems, economic disadvantage, and fear of authority); and that cultural competency is separable from cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity, and also different from addressing language barriers. However, in reviewing the literature it became apparent that the specific roles and responsibilities of workers, agencies, and systems were not clearly delineated. Thus this paper also aimed to address this unmet need. Identifying their unique roles and responsibilities can help ensure that the delivery of child protection services are efficiently and effectively mobilised from both the 'top' and 'bottom' to benefit all ethnic minority families. Moreover, any implementation of cultural competency needs to move beyond the emphasis on culture and acknowledge the dimensions of inferiority and oppression to truly promote value for diversity and protect ethnic minority children from the dangers of systematic disadvantage that institutional racism represents.
Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal
© 2014 Springer US. This is an electronic version of an article published in Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, October 2014, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 393-417. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal is available online at: http://link.springer.com/ with the open URL of your article.
Clinical Social Work Practice