Tag: Culture

Bright Future for ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ Series

The future of ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ seminar series looked bleak after the closure of the Transcultural Mental Health Service. With the closure WA looked set to lose the first-rate seminar series. However, Health Consumers’ Council (HCC) are pleased to announce we have won a contract to coordinate three ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ seminars over 12 months!

What is Let’s Talk Culture?

The ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ seminars played an integral role in educating service providers about working cross culturally, specifically in mental health. Mental health is perceived quite differently from one culture to another. For services to deliver effective treatment there are essential aspects which need to be understood.

Let’s Talk Culture Background

The ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ (LTC) seminar series aims to assist mental health professionals to work in a culturally responsive way with clients from ethnically diverse backgrounds. These seminars, held three times a year, “(were jointly organised by the WA Mental Health Commission, the Transcultural Mental Health Service at Royal Perth Hospital; and, the Cultural Diversity Unit of the Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate at the Department of Health). Commenced in 2009, the LTC series ended in 2016 with the aforementioned closure.

The series “developed a level of unprecedented popularity and following across Western Australia’s service providers, policy makers, researchers, consumers and carers who have a stake and/or interest in transcultural mental health issues.  All seminars were typically booked out to full seating capacity (~ 240).   Topics that have been covered range from Spirituality, Culture and Mental health, Men, Culture and Mental health to the most recent, Alcohol, Drugs, Culture and Mental Health. (Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHIMA)

MHIMA is funded by Mental Health Australia and appears to be in some jeopardy regarding future directions; unfortunately this seems to be a common problem with all things multicultural at present.

Future of Let’s Talk Culture

Taking on the ‘Let’s Talk Culture’ series is a great privilege and we hope the wonderful people involved in initiating and developing the series will continue to be involved. HCC will be working in partnership with the Mental Health Commission and the Cultural Diversity Unit of the Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate at the Department of Health. Keep an eye out for more details, which will be available in the coming months on HCC’s website and social media channels.

Louise Ford | Consumer and Community Engagement Manager

Can you see past the ‘Cultural Lens’?

The Cultural Lens

The term, ‘Cultural Lens’, can conjure up entertaining mental images, particularly when we realise that everyone has their own, deeply implanted, culture; so deep we aren’t even aware we have it most of the time.


I recently read the article “The cultural assumptions behind Western Medicine” (The Conversation, 2013) by Deborah Upton, it got me thinking again about the importance of recognising our own world views, perceptions, beliefs and values when we work cross culturally.


Culture is integral to all of us and given the cultural diversity of WA’s population, it is likely that we are going to work with people from different cultures to our own. Whether they be work colleagues, patients or clients. It is also likely that we will be challenged from time to time by cultural differences between ourselves and those who cross our path. Such challenges can be day to day things like food stuffs, to other, more significant matters like patient’s spiritual beliefs or thoughts around medical treatment.


When those challenges occur, it is important to realise that we all view the world, its people and cosmologies through our own cultural lens. Our beliefs and values etc. shape our world view and it is critical to remember at such times that there are many other ways of thinking, doing and being than our own. This does not make anyone wrong or right. It just means while working we need to remember to check our cultural lens from time to time and to view things in a cultural context.


Bananas and Snails



My own cultural lens tells me eating banana sandwiches is perfectly normal. I have eaten them since I was small, as has my family. On my first visit to Nigeria in 1994 I found my niece felt sick at mere sight of me eating a banana sandwich (as an aside, they have the best ever bananas in Nigeria!), even the very thought of a banana sandwich made her queasy…in Nigeria it is NOT ‘normal’ to eat banana sandwiches. It is ‘normal’ however to eat large snails; these are huge and I have held some that weigh at least 500g. They are cooked in stews and eaten with great relish. I have tried them and can’t say they are my favourite food, I suspect this is because I didn’t grow up eating giant African snails.


I have used this example to demonstrate how ‘normal’ varies from one culture to another; we cannot assume we share the same ‘normal’. Working cross culturally means this is an important factor to keep in mind and that we need to keep checking our cultural lens to see what is informing us.



Louise Ford | Consumer and Community Engagement Manager | Health Consumers’ Council

Do you want to find out more?

If you would like to know more about working and engaging cross culturally you can register for HCC’s workshops and Diversity Dialogue’s Forums. These can provide the foundation stones for you to build on, they are also great opportunities for networking and have received excellent feedback from past attendees. Nursing staff can also claim PD points for attending. Click here for information on Health Consumers’ Council upcoming events including workshop sessions for both health service professionals and health consumers.

Main Image Source: WildRoot