Western/Northwestern/RCH Alliance
 Be aware of the importance of culture
 Be able to identify cultural barriers to communication
 Learn strategies to overcome these barriers
 Develop “cultural competence”
 A pattern of ideas, rules, values, beliefs, habits
 Acquired through interactions with people
 Influenced by age, gender, family, economic status,
personality, experience, career, etc
 Provide a value system
 Dynamic: evolving over time
 Difficult to define!
Cultural Awareness
 The ability to recognize your own cultural values, and
those of other cultures
 Being respectful and open-minded
 Avoidance of stereotyping
 Sensitivity to culturally-specific needs
Note: awareness can be a passive process
Cultural Competence
 The ability to maintain positive outcomes in cross-
cultural encounters
 It is an active process
 Requires attitude, knowledge and experience
 It is normal to feel stressed, overwhelmed,
misunderstood, or threatened when facing people
from an unfamiliar culture
 Things which seem logical to them will make no sense
to you
 You may find yourself being stereotyped, or be
tempted to stereotype them
 Culture is complex
Cultural Dimensions
All cultures lie between these two extremes of value
Gender indifference
Shades of grey
Short-term values
Gender differentiation
Black and white
Long-term values
Individualism versus Collectivism
 Privacy
 Loyalty
 Rights
 Friendliness
 Personal Responsibility
 Part of a group
 Personal choice
 Social obligations
Where does Australia lie on this cultural dimension?
Where does your own culture lie?
Power Distance
 Social welfare
 Unequal distribution of
 Socialising is casual, lack of
wealth, status and power
 Rigid rules governing social
 Equal rights for all groups
Where does Australia lie on this cultural dimension?
Where does your own culture lie?
Gender Differentiation
Male / Female Distinction
Gender Indifference
• Men and women take on
 Men and women are seen as
different, and noninterchangeable roles
• Affects clothing, language,
behaviours, sometimes rights
equivalent in terms of roles
they can take on
 Gender does not define how
you behave
Where does Australia lie on this cultural dimension?
Where does your own culture lie?
Tolerance for Uncertainty
Black and White
Shades of Grey
 Belief in absolutes
 No ultimate truth
 Rules and regulations
 Anarchistic
 Risk avoidance
 Risk taking
 Often single viewpoint
 Multiple perspectives
Where does Australia lie on this cultural dimension?
Where does your own culture lie?
Time frame
Short-term values
Long-term orientation
 Rapidly changing
 Tradition and stability
 Innovations
 Dislike of change
 Today’s problems are more
 Conservative
important than those in 50
years’ time
 Makes sacrifices for long-
term gain
Where does Australia lie on this cultural dimension?
Where does your own culture lie?
Australian Culture/Communication
 Verbal communication
 Direct, to the point
 Brevity versus decoration
 Interrupting a speaker
 Difference of opinion
 Use of humour
 Emotions
Australian Culture/Communication
 Non-verbal communication
 Facial expression
 Eye contact
 Gestures
 Touch and personal space
 Degree of emotion
Australian Culture/Communication
 Written Communication
 Logical
 Linear
 Comprehensive
Australian Culture / Sense of Time
 Monochronic time sense
 Strictly punctual
 Attention is given to the current task
 Interruptions are avoided
 Polychronic time sense
 Timetables and schedules are less important than other
Australian Culture / Approach to
Illness and Death
 Denial of illness and death
 Much effort spent on avoiding it
 Lack of acceptance of one’s “fate”
Australian Culture / Legal Issues in
the Workplace
 Equal opportunity
 Multiculturalism
 Consent
 Confidentiality
 Boundaries to sexual advances
 Formal complaints procedure
Specific Issues for doctors working
in Australia
 Alcohol
 Sexuality - attitudes and behaviours
 Aboriginal health
 Mental health
 Ageing and community care
Your Input
 What have you experienced?
 Problems with cross-cultural encounters?
 Misunderstanding or being misunderstood?
 Surprising elements of Australian culture?
 Stereotyping or pre-formed opinions?
 Interesting differences between cultures?

Australian Workplace Culture File