What is Cultural Competence?

Cultural competence refers to an ability to communicate and interact effectively with people of different cultures. It is not just about knowing another person’s culture. In the healthcare setting it is about understanding how cultural differences impact on the consulting relationship and being able to adjust your behaviour to accommodate these differences for the best patient outcomes. Competence involves the capacity to function effectively as an individual within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviours and needs presented by patients and their ethnic communities.

Cultural competence comprises four components: cultural awareness, sensitivity, knowledge and skills.

Course Diagram

The cultural competence of healthcare providers is central to the healthcare system’s ability to provide access to and delivery of high-quality healthcare and is instrumental in reducing health disparities.

In New Zealand, the requires registration bodies to develop standards of cultural competence and to ensure that practitioners meet those standards.

With the growing culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse population across New Zealand, the health workforce needs to address the quality of:

  • interactions between health practitioners and clients who are from differing cultural backgrounds
  • cross-cultural communication between employers and employees, as well as employees-to-employees in the workplace

The development of CALD cultural competencies in the health sector include the recognition of culture as a determinant of health status; and the recognition of the need for a culturally competent workforce to address issues of equity and health disparities of CALD groups. CALD cultural competence focuses on the skills, behaviours and attitudes required for working with culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse groups.

CALD groups refers to culturally and linguistically diverse groups who are migrants and refugees from Asian, Middle Eastern and African backgrounds.


The overall aim of the CALD Cultural Competency “Courses for Working with Patients” is to:

  • Increase the health workforce’s level of confidence to work with CALD service users and carers

  • Enhance the cross-cultural interactions in the long term

  • Increase CALD patients’ satisfaction with the services delivered

  • Reduce miscommunication, misdiagnosis, non-compliance of treatment and follow up, and disengagement with service providers

The overall aim of the CALD Cultural Competency “Courses for Culturally Diverse Workplaces” is to enhance cultural awareness, sensitivity and cross-cultural communication skills (a) between employees and employees and (b) between employers and employees.

Eligibility and enrolment information for our courses can be found here.