What is cultural awareness in the workplace?

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The first stage to working respectfully with Aboriginal people and on the journey to reconciliation is understanding about Aboriginal culture/s. This starts with Cultural Awareness and being open to learning what you don't know, changing perspectives and shifting the way you do business.


Cultural Awareness generally is one’s understanding of the individual differences between themselves and people of other backgrounds, races, cultures, religions or nationalities. This understanding should manifest in a range of ways including behaviourally and cognitively, in order to effectively communicate with people of different cultures.

In our multicultural, diverse country, cultural awareness is an essential skill for everyday life. Particularly as Australians, we have a clear responsibility to develop awareness of Aboriginal culture/s, history and traditions, in order to communicate respectfully and effectively in all contexts.


Cultural awareness around Aboriginal cultures is important in the workplace because it ensures a fundamental level of respect is maintained throughout all communications.

For many workplaces, awareness of Aboriginal culture/s is imperative to operations, such as the family welfare sector.


Cultural awareness in the workplace can take a number of forms. Examples include knowledge of cultural responses to grief of loss, understanding family life and parenting, undertaking continual education in the area, and extensive knowledge of the history of aboriginal people generally and in a specific area. Cultural awareness also requires the understanding that Aboriginal cultures are numerous and diverse, and that a one-size-fits-all approach is never appropriate.


How can you help to implement cultural awareness?


The first step is to provide introductory knowledge to employees to ensure they are able to communicate with aboriginal people respectfully. VACCA’s cultural awareness training is delivered by Aboriginal facilitators who have strong cultural knowledge and experience in the workplace. Training covers a range of topics, including traditional aboriginal life, the effects of stolen generations and other historical regimes, the resilience of Aboriginal people, and aboriginal cultures and family life.

Our one-day Cultural Awareness Training sessions provide participants with knowledge of Aboriginal culture in Victoria, as well as culturally respectful ways of working with, and walking alongside, Aboriginal people, families and communities. Undertaking cultural awareness training is an essential first step towards cultural sensitivity, particularly in the child and family welfare sector.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material. To listen to our Acknowledgement of Country, click here.