Are we doing enough to develop cross-cultural competencies for social work?

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In the delivery of social work education, how can we devise a relevant curriculum that addresses the development of cross-cultural competencies? Some of the assumptions that our students bring to their study programme (many already work in different parts of the human services profession) are premised on out dated ideas that have as their source prejudice, racism, whiteness behaviours, fear and mistrust, and a lack of knowledge and understanding about the complex layers in understanding situations of access and equity, discrimination and the abrogation of human rights for marginalised communities. In this paper, I share some of the strategies and content material that we use at Charles Sturt University (CSU), Australia, together with professionals-inthe-field, in developing cross-cultural competencies to prepare our students for work in the profession. For example, as part of our current social work curriculum, students are introduced to intense debates that scrutinise the above phenomena-in-practice; in particular, they scrutinise their own biases and entrenched world views that are often developed out of an ethnocentric monoculturalism. At the very least, a critical reflection framework explores assumptions embedded within practice; this is not a new dynamic for social work and is worth revisiting here, but, ultimately, are we doing enough?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number7
Early online date2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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