Culture, language and health laws, guidelines and approaches
Laws and guidelines
Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998
Under the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 (the Act), it is discrimination when a person is treated worse than other people or disadvantaged because they have a particular characteristic, such as their age, race, sex, or disability.
Report it! is an informal reporting tool to alert the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner of discrimination or abuse happening in the community. It allows people to report, anonymously if they wish, without having to lodge a formal complaint.
Discrimination is against the law – know your rights poster in multiple languages.
The National Quality and Safety Health Services (NQSHS) Standards
The NQSHS standards provide a nationally consistent statement of the level of care consumers can expect from health service organisations.
The Partnering with Consumers standard recognises the importance of involving patients in their own care and providing clear communication. This standard, as with the Clinical Governance standard, underpins all the other standards.
Action 2.08 of the Partnering with Consumers standard states”
“The health service organisation uses communication mechanisms that are tailored to the diversity of the consumers who use its services and, where relevant, the diversity of the local community.”
No Place for Racism – Australian Human Rights Commission
Racism has no place in Australian society. However, too many people continue to encounter it in their daily lives. The Australian Government made a commitment to develop and implement a comprehensive National Anti-Racism Strategy. It has a focus on public awareness, education resources and youth engagement and will be underpinned by research, consultation and evaluation.
One initiative is a nation-wide public awareness campaign, Racism. It Stops with Me.
Racism. It Stops with Me
Racism. It Stops With Me is a national campaign that provides tools and resources to help people and organisations learn about racism and take action to create change.
Cultural competency and humility
Cultural competency is when we learn about other cultures, think about biases we may have, and adapt behaviours and communication style.
To understand more about biases, watch the following short video clip about blind spots we all have.
Biases and blind spots can rely on generalisations of certain groups rather than recognising the uniqueness of each person. It can also fall into the trap of thinking that culture is ‘fixed’, and something you can become an ‘expert’ on. It is not possible to learn absolutely everything about other cultures and become bias free.
Cultural humility is an approach we can use in healthcare.
Cultural humility is when we:
- recognise that no culture is better than another
- look at our own biases and assumptions
- are honest when we aren’t sure about something
- engage in mutually beneficial relationships
- are open about what we haven’t learned yet and listen to the lived experience of people
- acknowledge power imbalances and work to reduce these
- find a support system.
There is no expectation that you memorise everything there is to know about other groups. It is about understanding how your own biases might impact the way you treat and understand others, and work to minimise that impact.
Cultural competency is a goal. Cultural humility is a mindset.
Culturally Connected approach
Culturally Connected is an approach that brings together cultural humility and health literacy to help care providers and their clients develop shared understanding of each other's values, beliefs, needs, and priorities.
Read more about the Culturally Connected approach
L.E.A.R.N. is a communication tool that can be used to improve communication, enhance awareness of personal and cultural beliefs, and help determine acceptable care plans.
Find out more about L.E.A.R.N.
The Department of Health has a range of resources around health literacy including a workplace toolkit, resources and initiatives. This includes links to training and resources around verbal and written communication.
Learn more about health literacy.
The language we use both reflects and shapes our understanding and policy. Terms change over time. Some common terms such as ‘non-English speaking background’ (NESB), ‘multicultural’ and ‘culturally and linguistically diverse’ (CALD) are examples. These can end up categorising, labelling or grouping cohorts of diverse people under one term.
In healthcare, it is important to take a person-centred approach to care. This includes being mindful of unconscious biases which may lead to incorrect stereotypes or assumptions that can impact on a person’s care.
People migrate to Australia for different reasons. Migration pathways vary from person to person. Whilst some people have the option to choose to make a new life, other people are forced to flee because of poverty, political unrest, violence, natural disasters or other reasons.
The terms “refugee”, “asylum seeker” and “migrant” describe people who are on the move, who have left their countries and have crossed borders.
The terms “asylum seeker” and “refugee” are often used interchangeably but there are differences.
A refugee is a person who has left their own country because they are at risk of serious human rights violations and persecution. The risks to their safety and life were so great that they felt they had no choice but to leave and seek safety outside their country. They have been granted a humanitarian visa as a pathway to settle in another country.
An asylum seeker is a person who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualised procedures, an asylum seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which they have submitted it.
A migrant is someone who voluntarily chooses to leave their own country to make a new life in another country.
The pathways by which people arrive in Australia are many and change over times. One factor is the policies current at the time. Click here for a list of Australian visa categories.
An inclusive way of using terminology is to refer to the person. For example, a person from a refugee background or a person from a migrant background.
Learn more about this terminology
Inclusive language guide – cultural and linguistic diversity
This Australian Government style guide promotes inclusive language that respects the diverse cultural backgrounds and languages spoken in Australia. The guide is a tool to use when creating content.
People may have more than one identity or aspects to their identity. This is called ‘intersection of identity’. For example, someone may be refugee arrived and a member of the LGBTIQ+ community. Or may have arrived in Tasmania on a specific visa and live with a disability.
Types of identity intersections
- Race, background, ethnicity and nationality
- Gender and gender identity
- Sex, sexual orientation and sex characteristics
- Refugee or asylum seeker background
- Migration or visa status
- Faith or religion
- Mental health
- Socioeconomic status
- Housing status and geographic location
- Medical record
- Criminal record
Resources supporting different intersections
- Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council (AGMC)
- Council on the Ageing – Tasmania (COTA)
- Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA)
- Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN)
- National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)
- Tasmanian Transcultural Mental Health Network
- Women’s Health Tasmania (WHT)