It’s no longer enough to be Culturally Competent…

One of the practices of the learning frameworks has always been cultural competence. The EYLF told us that “Educators who are culturally competent respect multiple cultural ways of knowing, seeing and living, celebrate the benefits of diversity and have an ability to understand and honour differences.”

But now we have Version 2 of the frameworks – and cultural competence is no longer enough! We are asked to be culturally responsive.


So, what is the difference? Luckily Version 2 of the Frameworks comes with a glossary. The glossary defines cultural responsiveness as “a contemporary way to think about culture and enables individuals and organisations to be respectful of everyone’s backgrounds, beliefs, values, customs, knowledges, lifestyles and social behaviours. Being culturally responsive includes a genuine commitment to take action against discrimination in any form, embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in all aspects of the curriculum and working collaboratively with culturally and linguistically diverse children and families.”

So, are you culturally responsive? Do you really embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives in all aspects of the curriculum or is it more an add on, special part of your curriculum? Are you actually respectful of everyone’s beliefs or do some beliefs frustrate the hell out of you? Are you working to free yourself of cultural biases? Are you generally interested in learning about all cultures? What do you do to acknowledge that you are on stolen land that was never ceded?

And what about your teaching? Do you foster children’s understanding of bias, racism cultural responsiveness and unfairness? Do you teach children to stand up for themselves and others when they recognise racism? How do you help children to learn about each other’s cultures and the cultures that exist in your local community?

Adults who have grown up in Australia have usually absorbed a hefty chunk of racism and cultural stereotypes and prejudices throughout their early lives. To be truly culturally responsive we need to challenge these beliefs and attitudes within ourselves. Because these are absorbed unknowingly, it takes times and dedication to unpick them. 

Reflective questions

  • What do I understand cultural responsiveness to be?
  • How do I include teaching about racism and gender stereotyping in my programming?
  • What do I do to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into my setting and our programming and are we doing this enough?
  • What attitudes, beliefs and thoughts about other people’s cultures do I have that I need to challenge?

Useful resources

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