Assisting The Health And Needs Of The Community Social Work Essay
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ACCV exists to promote, encourage and assist the health and care needs of the aged and community care clients and support its members in a professional and ethical manner, to provide accurate relevant information, services and advice and to provide leadership in the aged and community care sector.
"North Yarra Community Health aims to provide high quality and responsive programs and services to all members of our community. We work with people to overcome their experiences of disadvantage, discrimination and disempowerment. We respect people's choices and support them to make informed decisions to prevent illness and promote their health and well being. We encourage active participation in our services and in the life of our community'.
Find out if your organization has a mission statement and write it here. If not, search in your community for a community development project and discover what other projects are using as their mission statement.
'Our mission is to provide individualised community services to Victorians who need short-term or long-term assistance with daily living activities.'
(Vista Community Support, Victoria)
Assessment activity 2
Contact your local community centre or Neighbourhood House and find out whether they are currently working on a community development project. If so, what is it and how did they go about identifying this?
The project is called 'Splinters' and it is aimed at males from the sixteen to twenty-five year old age group. It is to provide disengaged males who are not participating in any form of ongoing education or employment the opportunity to learn woodwork skills. The aim is that the group will be able to develop two products, timber chicken coops and rabbit hutches, and if the products are developed to a high enough standard, then the participants will be encouraged to develop a plan, to market and sell the products. The project will run for sixteen weeks and the hopeful outcome is that the participants will have a sustainable opportunity for further development.
The need for this project was identified by the high level of young males in the community estate with no direction in daily life. The community house staff witnessed a lack of positive activities for the group specified and the difficulties faced in attempting to engage with them. Local residents have reported that this targeted group is responsible for antisocial behaviour within the housing estate. Providing an opportunity for participation in the project will give the males the opportunity to disengage from antisocial behaviour.
Assessment activity 3
Values and assumptions are inherent in all of us. Identify at least 2 values that you hold and discuss how these might affect the way you work.
The first personal value that I will identify is honesty. I find that honesty is one of the most basic personal core values. One quote that I have always followed is "Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity." (W. Clement Stone) If we are honest in all facets of our life we will gain many more benefits for it. I consider honesty to mean the quality of being fair, truthful, and morally upright. If this is used in a work environment I find that I can gain the trust and respect of people that I work with and for. I endeavour to try and not doubt others, and I try to deal with them with good feelings. This often gives positive vibes to the other person. It enables them to modify their behavior and attitudes so we can be on a similar wavelength. It may be necessary to waiver depending on the circumstances as the level of honesty may have to be adapted depending on the person. Blunt and straightforward honesty can get in the way of a caring response or cooperative effort when you are working with people. Honesty is not about hurting feelings but trying to connect with a person or a situation.
The second value that I can identify is justice. This means to me a level of fairness, especially in the way people are treated and decisions are made. Every person I work with deserves to be treated fairly and I expect the same for myself in the work environment. I know this is not a core value for some people and it can have a significant impact on me. I have to control my own values and work with what I have. I find that when my values clash in the work environment, I may still do a good job, but I probably will not feel good about it. On the other side of this dilemma, I find that if my work environment incorporates my core values, I am happier and more engaged, even if the work itself is difficult. My whole being is connected with what I am doing daily. If my job does not allow me to honour my core values, and there is no possible way to change this, then it would be time for me to consider alternatives that would meet my needs.
At times, our values can 'get in the way' of productive outcome by leading us to express ourselves aggressively or to dominate a discussion. These behaviours can lead to serious and potentially damaging conflicts between people. Finally I think that it would be naÃ¯ve to expect everyone's values to be the same, as we all have had different backgrounds and experiences that make up our beliefs, so compromises need to be negotiated in the work place.
Assessment activity 4
The local neighbourhood centre is planning on a community development project that plans to hold a number of multicultural lunches in an effort to bring together a number of isolated individuals from various ethnic backgrounds. Make a list of the issues you might need to consider before setting out on this project.
Participants - age groups eg. children / elders
Awareness of cultural differences - including fasting periods / celebrations
Duty of Care
Personal core values and beliefs
Staffing mix of females and males
Understanding the different perspectives of time priorities - participants may turn up late
Assessment activity 5
Stan has identified a need in his community to set up a work area where other folk in the community can gather with the aim to repair broken toys and to make new ones for the children in the district. Stan has a background in carpentry and believes he has the necessary knowledge and skills to take control over the project. He contacts the local Neighbourhood House and advertises in the local shops expressing his ideas.
Stan is able to set up his group, mainly men, and after 6 months feels that the group is running quite successfully. However, a year later, Stan finds out that the initial funding is due to run out at the end of the 2 years, something he had forgotten about.
What are some of the social and economic concerns that might affect the group long term?
Money to continue funding the project
The project needs to look at becoming self-sustaining.
A project management team
Lowered self-esteem and empowerment
Lack of knowledge/skills
Loss of project interest
Social acceptance of project
Support from a larger organisation
Qualifications necessary eg. Red card
Assessment activity 6
You have gone through the initial stages of consulting the community about the proposed project and you hear along the grape vine that there are some individuals who have impaired vision (ie. they are blind) and would like dearly to participate in the project. What mechanisms could you use to ensure that they receive all the necessary information about future meetings and events?
Email used with assisted technology
Compact disc / audio tape
A newsletter sent out in Braille
Assessment activity 7
Often issues come up during the course of conversation. Sometimes the information shared is easily understood whilst at other times it is not. In the following statement, identify what you see the problem being, and how you would go about solving it.
Mrs H wants to be involved with the local community development project working with young people who abuse drugs. She becomes friends with a young lad James, aged 18 years who is currently living on the streets. Mrs H invites James to come and stay at her house, which James would like to do, as he has been homeless for the last 5 years. However, James feels a little unsure about this and does not know what to do.
What is the problem here? How would you deal with it?
The first issue that struck me is that Mrs H has crossed the boundary of being a worker, whether it is in a voluntary or paid position. Mrs H would need to consider her own safety and the support networks necessary to have a person come and reside with her that has a history of drug abuse. Mrs H would need to under go some sort of training in this area to have the skills to deal with any arising issues and she would also need to arrange for a mentor for herself.
As for James the issue of whether he is continuing his drug use would need to be looked at. James would also need individual support to overcome the issues he will face living with someone after being homeless for a significant amount of time. Giving James a home to live in is not the only issue that needs to be addressed, a holistically based approach to the situation needs to be implemented to avoid setting James up to fail.
Assessment activity 8
An issue was identified, during the initial consultation process, indicating that a number of individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds want to find out more about the Australian culture and language which they were having difficulties in understanding,
What referrals or resources would be needed to meet these needs?
Language classes and programs
Culturally & Linguistically Specific Community Visitors Centres
Community Service Organisations
Informal workshops with other people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
Assessment activity 9
Give another example of duty of care, and how you would deal with it.
Pam is a 24-year-old woman with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Pam lives in a group home where a picnic outing to the local park is being planned. Pam's behaviour can be unpredictable, with her becoming verbally abusive and extremely loud in public places.
As a staff member going on the outing I do owe a duty of care to the public. Pam's behaviour may be embarrassing for the public but she does not present a danger to them. To exclude Pam from public outings would be far more damaging to her than any embarrassment caused to the public. Pam is reliant on our care service, where as the public can function independently. Therefore my duty of care is owed to Pam to meet her community access needs.
Assessment activity 10
Through discussion with peers, family and friends, identify 2 issues that could become a community development project. What would be the next step in the process of putting one of these projects into action?
In modern society some members of the community are living in accommodation that does not have surrounding gardens. This is particularly true for the elderly when they are living in aged care homes or units. The elderly that do not live in this sort of accommodation quite often live with family and feel that they cannot alter or participate in garden design or maintenance. A community garden offers the opportunity to belong and it is enjoyable to many of the aging population. The garden can bring together a diverse range of people who are committed to one goal, planning, building and maintaining a garden. Gardening brings the community together, rather than accelerate their segregation.
The focus in today's world is all about global warming and sustainability. If communities do not come together and try and change modern practices that will affect the climate, the world will have long-term damage. Sustainability is the word that everyone needs to learn and adopt. The idea of educating in environmental sustainability needs to be addressed on the home front. This approach will bring together communities to learn about sustainable living at home and to equip them to teach others about these issues.
Before any project can commence the community will have to be consulted on what they consider their needs to be. This can be achieved through a needs based analysis and the prioritising of community needs, but this has to be carefully monitored as wants, needs and rights can become confused while trying to address and identify issues. The community needs analysis will aim to clarify what the residents want, assess which needs and rights should be recognised and indicate which community facilities, services or programs can best meet these.
Assessment activity 11
The capacity building approach focuses on the notion that community development works with the individual and not for the individual. What does this mean for you?
In a community setting if a capacity building approach is not used, where appropriate, it can create a dependency on services to meet needs. If a person, a group or a community were able to achieve their goals, using their own strategies, it would deliver an overwhelming sense of empowerment for these people. It is a wonderful feeling to assist people with achieving desired outcomes and it gives me a feeling of self-worth. If the capacity building approach were not used, there would not be the employment opportunities in community work to assist people with the tools for success in their lives. Teamwork can deliver better results in my opinion, as it is using a combined knowledge base striving towards a common goal.
Assessment activity 12
A community development project being undertaken by the local Aboriginal Health Service in outback South Australia is wanting to deliver a program called 'Getting the message across'. The aim is to undertake a range of initiatives including an early intervention project that will target children as young as 8 years of age on anti-drug and harm minimisation messages.
What other resources could be used to get the message across?
People with real life experience
Comparison information with other Aboriginal groups
Assessment activity 13
You have decided on the project you want to undertake. Write up a checklist of what you need to take into account in the initial stages of the planning process, for example who are you going to contact, how will you do this, what do you need to take into account before doing this, when will you undertake the start of the project.
Clear target group
Brainstorm - Who are the interested parties?
Which clients will benefit from the project?
How will the project be accomplished?
Public Notice announcements
Consultation after delivery of initial planning
Undertake start of project after the bases, planning and participation is successfully completed
Assessment activity 14
You are involved in a project called the 'Multicultural Drug Prevention Project'. The principle behind it is the education, training and support of young people from culturally diverse backgrounds to undertake training in drug education as peer educators in the local community centre.
What organizations could the project approach?
Odyssey House Victoria
The Odyssey Institute of Studies' Training Unit are able to supply a diverse and comprehensive range of training options to organizations working with people who may present with drug and alcohol issues.
Tranquilliser Recovery and New Existence (TRANX)
Education and training sessions are provided in Victoria on request to doctors, nurses, alcohol and drug practitioners, community health practitioners, psychologists, youth workers and other health and welfare practitioners. Sessions are tailored to meet the specific needs of the organization. Topics include:
â€¢ Treatment for benzodiazepine dependency
â€¢ Recognition of benzodiazepine dependency and information regarding safe use of benzodiazepines
â€¢ Providing a safe tranquilliser use message to people from culturally diverse backgrounds
Uniting Care Moreland Hall
Services are offered on a fee-for-service basis but special rates apply to charitable organizations and services, which are unfunded or have special needs. The Education and Training unit provides Alcohol and Other Drug training to a wide range of professional and community groups. This training may be tailored to meet particular needs through consultation with the group or it can be Competency Training designed to provide the target group with one of the National Alcohol and Other Drug Competencies as part of the Community Services training package.
Youth Substance Abuse Service (YSAS)
YSAS offers a wide range of training packages that can be customised to meet the needs of individual workers as well as the needs of services and organizations. YSAS trainers have extensive knowledge and experience in all areas related to young people and substance use. Depending on what is required, YSAS can offer more comprehensive professional development programs that range from single session seminars through a number of seminars that cover a range of subject areas.
What issues would need to be considered?
There are a number of issues to consider when forming this project. The first would be the selection of people who undergo the training. A commitment contract would need to be drawn up so that the young people follow through on the training and education supplied to them. The cultural groups selected will have to be interviewed to find their position on what isn't and what is acceptable as drug use. Different cultures can find some drugs acceptable for recreational use. The youth group will have to be made up of mixed genders to get their message across. Finally their personal life experiences will have an influence on their values so this needs to be addressed.
Assessment activity 15
Men, especially Aboriginal men and those from other countries, rarely seek the help they need particularly when it comes to health issues. The local community centre along with community members decided to run an education session on men's health in general. Often the men wait and wait until the problem becomes unbearable. The aim of the project is to identify who would come along to the group.
What sort of issues may arise, what issues are important to them and how would you get them there?
Aboriginal men are less likely to address their health issues and this results in an increased presentation of secondary health issues. The reason for this neglect of health issues is because they are more likely to not feel empowerment within their communities because of limited education and employment opportunities, because of reduced authority and status, a loss of their traditional role in both society and family, as well as the loss of a sense of self worth. The result of these changes in their society can lead to despair, shame, and a sense of inadequacy. Aboriginal men do not allow themselves to be seen as weak, they feel a need to protect their privacy and for this; they deny any health problems to save 'face' in their community.
There needs to be considerations of gender, that is 'men's business', it will need to be a part of the program development. Aboriginal men are unlikely to seek advice or help from women when it concerns their health issues.
To get the men to participate would be a process that would take time by informally mingling with them to build a rapport within the terms set down by local men. For the partnership to work with them an environment based on respect, trust, and equality needs to be established. This could involve meeting outside of the community center, for example at a 'Men's Shed' or a fishing excursion, and during this time, use the opportunity to become familiar with them and learn about their issues.
Assessment activity 16
Contact your local community house or Neighbourhood House and check whether they have any programs or projects incorporating the positive contribution of diversity in the community. If so, what are they? If not, what would you suggest in the way of an appropriate project?
At the current time Ballarat is celebrating the Eureka Rebellion Uprising. This event gives the community a chance to celebrate freedom and diversity. The uprising at Eureka was the only armed civil uprising in Australia, to battle for democracy, fairness and freedom for people. The gold rush in Ballarat brought a flood of immigrants from around the world seeking liberty and freedom.
The Ballarat African Association has identified the project as a way of making a positive contribution of diversity to the community. The association identified that the local diverse cultures in the area are undervalued and their contribution to society is often not given any recognition. To address this issue and promote the benefits of diversity, the association in conjuction with community organisations are aiming to make this project an annual event.
The contibution to the music feastival will be delivered in the lead up to the event by establishing a community music, singing and dancing workshop. Professional artists will be used to train existing cultural performance groups and to create new ones. This iniative is aimed to gain the direct involvement of local young people and performers of different cultural backgrounds.
The successful outcome will not only be an entertaining performance by a diverse group of people, but the development of relationships that will develop through the workshops and shared performances. This outcome will enhance people's connection with their community and create a greater awareness and acceptance of Ballarat's diversity.
Assessment activity 17
As a community development worker, you will come across certain individuals who feel strongly about certain issues and biases and make judgemental comments towards others. How would you deal with this?
My view is, that to end judgemental comments and bias it will take awareness, openness and practice on the behalf of the person who has limited vision. When dealing with people in the community it is really important not to take what they say, or how they say it, personally. It is not about me; it can be that the person has had a limited exposure to diversity. I would keep my communication neutral when conversing with the person. I am not there to judge the person, as I would be no different from them. The key to effective bias free communication is treating all people with respect and consideration regardless of other issues.
Assessment tool 2 (AT2): Written / oral questions
List 5 ways you can distribute information in your community about upcoming projects and relevant issues.
Community notice board
Flyers and pamphlets (individual drops to houses)
If you are in charge of a community initiative, how should you address people if they come to you wanting to talk about particular issues?
The person in charge of a community initiative needs to be aware of the fact that you are in 'their community'. The people in the community need to have input and ownership of initiatives or they will not fully support the programs implemented. There needs to be an evident benefit for them to overcome particular issues.
The first thing to do is to treat people with the respect they deserve, listen intently and talk clearly to the person. The ability to treat people with honesty and integrity will be the foundation to a successful outcome. Just because you are in charge of an initiative this does not put you in a different class to people, you still have to be approachable to the people around you. All of this relates to have sound communication skills. Communication is the process of transferring a message between people using various methods.
One skill is to make eye contact whether I am speaking or listening, to convey interest in the other person and what they are trying to say. Another strategy is to manifest a constructive attitude, as the attitude you have will have an impact on your interaction with other people. This attitude should involve being honest, patient, optimistic, sincere, respectful and accepting of others and their beliefs. Talking to the person is not effective if your body language does not match what you are trying to say. A conversation can stop before it starts, if your body language is saying you do not want to talk.
Appropriate and clear language should be used, matched to the person you are communicating with. Using superior language would intimidate and confuse the person. An appropriate tone and volume can let the other person know that you mean what you say, have thought about what you are saying, and what you are saying is worth hearing. Using a propre tone helps ensure that the other person hears exactly what you are saying, and reduces possibilities for misunderstanding.
Finally if you do not have effective listening skills the conversation will go no where. The other person may have some very important thoughts that you can learn from and use to develop the iniative further. Any input by interested parties can create a more successful outcome for all involved.
What is the role of a mission statement? Think of some statements you've seen/heard. What did they mean to you and others in the community?
The role of a mission statement is to identify the purpose and direction of an organization or company. The statement should guide the actions of the company or organization to provide a sense of direction, to make clear its overall goal and guide future decisions made. To the interested stakeholders outside of the company it will explain the intentions, priorities and values of the people inside of the group. If a mission statement does not address my core values and beliefs I would need to assess whether this is the right organisation to meet my needs. In the eyes of the community, mission statements will have no meaning if they are just ambiguous words that are not acted upon by the organization.
What are some social, political and economic issues that might affect your community?
Election of a new Prime Minister or Premier
Alcohol and Drug use
Unskilled work force
How can learning a new skill help someone to resolve personal issues?
The chance to learn one new skill maybe all it takes to break a cycle. It's all about having the opportunity to use the new skills to address ongoing issues.
Learning how to solve problems is a very useful tool in understanding and solving difficult situations. If we look at young children they have very limited problem-solving skills. Young children do not have the maturity to understand that solving problems is a social skill and that it is one of the most important life skills. As we develop we should develop this skill but some people are not shown techniques to achieve this in life. Solving problems is also about finding solutions to personal issues.
If someone came to you with a problem that stemmed from beliefs different to your own, how would you help them?
I would empathize with the other person, as it is a good way to show respect for others and their beliefs. If I am sensitive to his feelings I will develop an understanding of why they think and act as they do. It is important to think before you speak and be polite, as you do not wish to hurt the person with thoughtless words. I would not criticize the person for having beliefs different to my own. The fastest way to lose a relationship is to criticise what a person thinks is right or the beliefs they hold. Communication is all about building bridges instead of walls by genuinely appreciating the good that you see in others and showing respect to his ideas no matter how different his beliefs are from yours.
I understand that everyone I meet is unique. Individuals from the same culture don't always share the same point of view and beliefs. The best way to approach this is by showing respect to what others think by respecting who they are and where they came from. I listen to what other people have to say, even if I don't agree. The best way to show respect to other's belief is to listen to what they share with you. It can be surprising what new things you'll learn from them. It will not only improve my listening skills, but I will also gain their trust and respect.
Imagine you have set up a community group where each member speaks English apart from one. How would you enable this person to be an active member of the group?
This person can participate in all facets of the group, especially if a 'buddy' system is implemented to make their participation easier and by incorporating strategies to make the group socially inclusive.
Good communication is the foundation of successful relationships, but people seem to rely mainly on communicating with words. Nonverbal communication, or body language can include our facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and even the tone of our voice. For this reason nonverbal communication is a vital form of communication. When we interact with others, we continuously give and receive countless wordless signals. The way you listen, look, move, and react tell the other person whether or not you care and how well you're listening. The nonverbal signals you send can produce a sense of interest, trust, and desire for connection.
The human face is extremely expressive and able to express countless emotions without saying a word. And unlike some forms of nonverbal communication, facial expressions are universal. The facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust are the same across cultures. With the inclusion of visual aids to assist with body language the person should be able to have an understanding of what the group is participating in, as the basic idea is to communicate ideas from one person to another.
If someone has trouble speaking to a group, but is fine with one-on-one interaction, how can you make sure they will feel comfortable in a group activity that involves a group presentation?
Public speaking is an example of a social phobia, and is a common social fear. I would reassure the person that it is normal to experience some degree of anxiety when engaging in public speaking. Giving support and encouragement to the person will give them a feeling of empowerment in accomplishing the task. There are many techniques that can be put into place to assist in public speaking. I would give the person time to know and rehearse their speech or presentation with people they felt comfortable with. So that they are not worried that they will draw a blank during the presentation through anxiety, I would get them to write down the key points so that they have something to trigger their memory. The one tactic that I have found to work is to focus on one person that you know and feel comfortable with and make the presentation to them. It is a matter of blocking out the audience and channelling your fear. If the person cannot reduce their anxiety there is always the option of making a video presentation so that they can still address the group and participate.
Assessment tool 3 (AT3): Project(s)
You must plan and prepare a community activity in a neighbourhood that has severe racial tensions.
What activity would you conduct?
I would develop a cross-cultural event day show casing different cultures through food, dance, music, creative arts and shopping.
How would you introduce acceptance to participants?
Depending on the size of the event, I would have at least two people from each culture represented in the core planning committee. I would choose bilingual leaders from each culture to recruit other volunteers from their own communities and plan cultural specific sections. If people from different cultures see their community leaders embracing and promoting the idea, it will have a greater success. I would delegate the planning amoungst the people involved so that my own cultural influences will not affect the outcome of the event. It is everyones project, not just mine.
Who could you get to help develop this project?
A community event like this is often the product of many people coming together to plan and implement ideas to benefit their community. It takes quite a lot of co-operation to successfully plan an event and many things have to be addressed. The level of success will depend on how many people are involved and what ideas are formulated so it pays to have a good plan of action.
To host a cross-cultural event many people would need to be consulted in the development process. These could include:
Existing local community organizations
Cultural leaders from the different represented communities
Local service clubs
Local education facilities
Chamber of Commerce
Would it be a good idea? Why/why not?
A promotion that leads to understanding different cultures and providing an environment where tolerance is incorporated can ease racial tensions in society. People are generally scared of what the do not understand and react accordingly. To introduce the different cultures and not show favouritism to any culture would create an environment to learn in. This would be achieved by holding a true cross-cross cultural event, one that each and every culture present feels as if the event was organized just for them. Not only would the elements of the culture be present, such as clothing or music, but the languages of these cultures would be represented as well. The aim would be for all of the mixed cultural elements to flow together in a fluid and natural manner. No one culture should be perceived as having stronger representation than another. This balance would create a mutual respect between all cultures present. The ability to achieve this feeling of natural balance and mutual respect between cultures would directly relate to the overall success of the event.
How would you distribute information about your initiative?
In order to get the maximum amount of attendance I would advertise the event in newspapers, on notice boards of community boards, using the help of family and friends in selling tickets or through the internet. Making posters and putting them in good locations, such as community notice boards and local businesses is also an advertising strategy. The local radio and television is another tool where a community service announcement can be advertised. I would give out as the details of the date and location of the event; activities that will be taking place on the day, the entry cost and details from where to obtain tickets. I would emphasise on the different cultural activities being organised on the day so that people attending can plan accordingly.
What other things would you need to take into consideration?
Location: The event would have to be held on neutral ground that is accessible to all community members.
Activities: People will automatically be attracted to the event if there are interesting activities to participate in, an especially important factor to get families to attend. Activities geared to all ages and sexes will be another way of keeping people amused and distracted from racial tension. To have families attend will create a different atmosphere for the event. Having many different cultural activities is a good way of introducing people to the beliefs and practices of other cultures.
Music: Themed music can add interest and a fun element to the event. Music can also have a calming effect on people.
Education: There should be an educational element to the whole event to widen peoples believes.
Leaflets should be available to the people attending to give the background of different cultural activities, so that those who attend have an understanding of the customs of different cultures.
Security: The use of the services of a reputable security firm will ensure that all areas of security are adequately covered to prevent any mishaps on the day. The health and safety aspects of this event will need to be prioritised whether it turns out to be a
small or a large event. Having a police presence may lead to a hostile feeling within the crowd so a security company will be the better option.
Food: Organisation of people to contribute to the preparation, supply and cooking of the cultural food for the stalls.
Budget: Working out a budget to be able to put together the total funding necessary for the event.
Funding: Sourcing funding from other organisations.
OH&S: The OHS principles will have to be used to cover all individuals participating in the project to ensure safety and security where there may be risk of injury.
Duty of care: The project will have a duty of care to all participants involved in the project.
Insurance: This will be necessary to cover the event for injuries or damaged property.
Scheduling: Arranging a suitable date for the event that does not conflict with cultural issues.
Write a mission statement for your initiative.
The Ballarat Community Centre has developed a cross-cultural event to promote, encourage and celebrate cultural diversity throughout the community. This event will provide a venue to raise awareness and education in cultural diversity. The aim is to establish an environment of cross-cultural learning and exchange for the entire community in a fun and relaxed environment.
Community service workers will interact with a wide variety of clients and co-workers from a range of cultural and experiential backgrounds.
They must, therefore, be aware of:
the role of diversity in the workplace
methods of accommodating diversity
access and equity issues that relate to their own area of work
cultural, historical, access and equity issues that could be specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities
other issues that might face Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities
They must demonstrate the ability to work, communicate and negotiate with a range of people from different cultural groups.
For the community service sector in which you work or are intending to work describe some of the cultural, historical, access and equity issues with which you might be confronted. Explain how you could deal with these issues and how you would ensure that the rights of diverse people and their communities can be up-held.
Utilise workplace examples to support and explain your responses and provide, where possible, evidence that shows the steps you have taken (or will take), in a workplace, to address such issues.
A cultural issue that I encountered in the community recently was a meeting in a social setting with a Sudanese woman and her child. Another man, who was present, introduced himself to the woman and began a social conversation with her. During the course of the conversation the man commented that the child was very attractive in appaearance. The Sudanese woman immediately showed signs of panic and tried to hurry away. The first thing I did was to reassure the woman that herself and the child were safe. After talking to the woman in clear and calm tone, I found the problem to be a cultural belief that had been misunderstood. In Sudan if someone commented on the attractiveness of a child the child would disappear or be taken by people in a higher authority. The best approach to this was to be respectful of the woman's belief, but at the same time, try and build a rapport with the woman, establishing some level of trust and security, and explain that this will not and does not happen in Australia. I explained that the law in this country protects people and their children. I told her to confirm this for herself by talking to other Sudanese women in the community, and to confirm that they all still have their children with them. I explained to the woman that in Australia some people do comment on the attractiveness of children and it is not meant to frighten her.
Another example happened while I was on student placement at a community service organisation. This organisation implemented programs for use in the community sector. An African women's group was developed and implemented with the aim of having a positive impact on social engagement, and the ability to learn about Australian culture in a group setting. A community development worker was given the task of setting up the group with paricular ethnic group in mind.
The community development worker experienced a lot of agitation and frustration setting up and running the group. To try and generate interest in the project, she sent out numerous promotional flyers, but very few women attended the intial get togethers. Of the women that did attend, they seemed to run to their own time clocks, arriving late most of the time and not apologising for it. The women insisted on keeping their children with them even though childcare had been organised and this tended to be disruptive when information sessions were held. The community development worker felt that the women were rude, they didn't seem to pay attention, and continually talked amoungst themselves in their own language. After the sessions the women wanted to ask questions but the worker felt that if they paid more attention during the sessions, they would not need to monopolize her time afterwards. The worker felt that the women did not value the sessions, and for that reason the project should be cancelled.
Since I was not the worker but only a student observing I have my own views on how this worker could have dealt with the issues that were presented to her. The task would be to enable the community development worker to consider that the women she is working with may have issues with regards to the English language and the use of it, speaking aloud in group situations, different learning styles, etc. The women may not be use to leaving their children in care, so perhaps a bilingual child carer might work, or setting up the children in a corner of the room with a care worker, so that the mothers can still have contact with them. Some of these issues may well be due to the different cultural background, beliefs and values of the women. To me the difficulty is not these issues, but the problem that the worker has in communicating with them. Different cultures have different social rules and concepts of communication, and these can be understood and accepted by people who have grown up in that culture, and can at the same time, be misinterpreted by others leading to failure of communication and conflict.The difficulty was not the cultural differences as such, but the worker's inability to understand, acknowledge and negotiate these differences. The worker was going off her own core values and beliefs in judging the women. The workers own assumptions and value judgements regarding imparting information, punctuality, politeness, professional boundaries and parenting were causing her frustration and agitation. The worker needed to be aware of her own cultural assumptions, and those of the women, by developing knowledge and skills to be able to work with different communities. The worker should be aware of diffeernces in attitudes and values and try and accommodate them into the situation. There will be differences in both verbal and non-verbal language that is used within the group, and assumptions should not be drawn about whether the women are getting any benefit from the project. To make this project successful patience in giving information and allowing for cultural differnences will be necessary. The women have a right to social inclusion and if the project is not meeting the workers expectations, then the project will have to be adapted to make allowances for the people involved. Programs such as this one must do more than offer an equal, non-discriminatory service; they must tailor service to the community around them and be adaptable to change. To implement the changes necessary in project delivery the following skills of listening, speaking, observing, patience and flexibility must be utilised.
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