Working with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) Families: Exploring Multicultural Competence in the Child Protection Context

Lara Blake, Edith Cowan University

Dr Deirdre Drake, Dr Katherine Hamilton & Dr Justine Dandy

Abstract

This study utilised a qualitative approach to explore Child Protection Workers’ (CPW’s) experiences of working with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) clients, and in particular looked at how culturally competent CPW’s felt they were in being able to work with CaLD clients. In total, 11 participants who were CPW’s at Mirrabooka and Joondalup Department for Child Protection (DCP) district offices took part in the study. Of these, nine were female and two were male. Participation in the study was voluntary, and all staff at the relevant offices were sent an email invitation to participate. All participants answered demographic questions, and eight questions focussing on cultural competence. These questions centred on the three components of cultural competence; knowledge, skills, and awareness (APA, 2003). Qualitative results indicated that in general, participants felt they had access to enough information about the different cultural groups they work with to be able to undertake this work effectively, and felt a willingness to learn about these groups. Furthermore, participants demonstrated an ability to reflect on the skills they used in their work with CaLD clients, and also showed empathy and sensitivity toward difference amongst groups. Participants however felt the use of interpreters was an uneasy and problematic process. Lastly, participants felt they were aware of their own attitudes towards CaLD people, and recognised these attitudes as positive; therefore having a positive impact on the work they do with CaLD clients. These findings are in contrast with previous research in this area, which mainly indicated that CPW’s did not feel they had the knowledge or skills to work effectively with CaLD clients. Future research into CaLD client views of CPW cultural competence in the WA context may be beneficial so as to compare to these findings.