Health Education Development/Funding ethnic diversity

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Gong gong wei sheng yu jian kang pin tu ji mu = Health and Hygiene puzzle blocks.

Fashions come and go. Some years and decades, it is fashionable to talk about ethnic diversity. In some centuries and locations, the lack of tolerance has caused untold misery. We need to keep alert to how ethnicity, the way we perceive other people and the way that they perceive us, shapes our thinking about seeking resources to support health and well-being. It is not always easy to do so. We particularly need to be careful not to treat people as deficits. This is especially true of people whose ethnicity differs from our own. We need to keep alert to our assumptions.


Each week we hold a lectorial and a tutorial. The lectorial is a lecture involving audience participation. The tutorials are for discussing the and group activities relating to the topic, and for working on the assignments.


  1. Watch the videos in this playlist.
  2. Review Health education: theoretical concepts, effective strategies and core competencies particularly pages 66-71 which is Annex 2: Complete list of health educator competencies. How do these compare with the learning outcomes for each topic and the whole subject? How far do you believe you have come towards being able to demonstrate these competencies.
  3. Attend the lectorial having spent a little time considering how ethnicity might shape the story that you might be asked to craft for a funding submission.


  1. Review the sessions for the tutorial this week: page 156, Reflective Practice--Identify Personal Bias and page 157, Reflective Practice--Effect of Assumptions.
  2. Attend the tutorial supporting your colleagues in their final teaching and learning round.

What are the key issues to consider for funding submissions engaging ethnic diversity?[edit]

When I was in my anthropology classes, I noticed something interesting. It seemed that many tribes used a word to refer to themselves that could be translated roughly as "THE people". Later, when I was studying ancient languages, I discovered that the word ethnic was derived from a Greek word (ethnos, singular) which meant 'people group' or even nation. So we seem to have a weird thing happening when we speak about ethnicity. From the inside, as it were, a group of people have a shared story that gives them a shared meaning system within which to operate. They, in fact, may have a great deal of genetic and social diversity within their grouping. However, being sharers in the story, they are "THE people". From the 'outside', we see people who are often found grouped together within a larger community and who may share similarities of language and custom. So, when we speak of an 'ethnic group', we are making a comparison whether we are aware of this or not. Typically, the comparison is of a less 'powerful' grouping to a more dominant grouping who ironically remain invisible to themselves. Does that sound strange? Let me try to clarify. From my experience, most Australians of English descent do not see themselves as belonging to an 'ethnic group', as having 'ethnicity'. They are really "THE people". However, if any of their grandparents were from Wales, Cornwall or Scotland, they might consider that they had an ethnic heritage. So, we have to be careful. Each of us are part of a larger story that either creates shared meanings among some people, or excludes other people in some way. This will be an interesting topic as differences have their consequences.


We will all come to this topic with different thoughts, feelings and practices. In my case I have many different 'ethnic' backgrounds. I acknowledge my family's heritage with the Brothertown Indian Tribe of New York and Wisconsin. There were Puritan, Irish, Romansch, Scottish, French, Italian, German and Norwegian traditions that played an important role in my family's history. Some were helpful and others were not. Some were good; yet, they were despised by others. Some were harmful and they were often similar to the the traditions of the people among whom they settled. I am a migrant to Australia and am reminded of this several times a week by the things I do that I know are 'different' and by the things that others point out as different. Sometimes this is okay; other times it is not. It is important to be aware of our own heritage and how it is salient. It is also crucial that we try to sympathetically understand the way other people view life. We should accommodate most things if they are not oppressive of people. Somethings we should not collude with. But, there are also many things in 'Australian' culture that we should either accommodate or call into question. There are no easy solutions; as the political theorist, C. Fred Alford says, there are only better resolutions for this time and place while we are at with these people (Alford 1994). You will find that many funding submissions require to you demonstrate a general awareness of working with ethnic diversity and specific awareness for the distinct groups that you are seeking to work with in terms of the funding. For instance, the mental health of international students in Australian tertiary institutions is under-researched and, therefore, probably under resourced (Forbes-Mewett & Sawyer 2011). Again, a 'salutogenic' approach is very useful in this regard (Lindstrom & Eriksson 2010). Those of us working with various "ethnic groups" across Melbourne have raised large sums of money to plan, implement and evaluate a wide variety of programs over the years dealing with health education and health literacy. What did we have to consider? Here are some view expressed in a document relating to mental health:

The growing diversity and dispersal of ethnic communities in Victoria heightens the need to ensure all mental health staff practice effectively in cross-cultural situations and know how to mobilise any resources (for example, interpreters, bilingual clinicians, cultural information, ethno-specific services) they need to assist clients. Hence, this strategy is about promoting ‘cultural competence’ as a core set of skills and attributes required of all mental health professionals, and enhancing their skills and capacity to work with culturally and linguistically diverse communities. (MHACSD 2006:14)

References and Resources

Alford, C.F. (1994) Group psychology and political theory. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Forbes-Mewett, H. and Sawyer, A-M. (2011) Mental Health Issues amongst International Students in Australia: Perspectives from Professionals at the Coal-face. The Australian Sociological Association Conference Local Lives/Global Networks, University of Newcastle New South Wales. November 29 – December 2, pp. 1-10.

Lindstrom, B. and Eriksson, M. (2010) A salutogenic approach to tackling health inequalities. In, Morgan, A., Davies, M. and Ziglio, E. (Eds.) Health Assets in a Global Context: Theory, Methods, Action. New York: Springer, pp.17-39.

MHACSD (2006) Cultural diversity plan for Victoria's specialist mental health services 2006-2010. Melbourne: Metropolitan Health and Aged Care Services Division, Victorian Government Department of Human Services.

Learning Outcomes[edit]

On completion of this topic, through your own investigations, group preparation, tutorial participation and lectorial explorations, you should be able to:

  1. List a wide variety of policies that might influence funding availability for programs which acknowledge the importance of respecting aspirations for ethnic diversity.
  2. Sum up the key principles that can be derived from such documents and discuss how these might be used to reinforce an argument supporting ethnic diversity in a variety of settings.
  3. Formulate responses to funding submission criteria that require specific reasons for taking account of ethnicity in terms of health literacy and health education in general.
  4. Indicate how these responses can be used to justify health literacy and health education programs that are sensitive to ethnicity related issues and concerns in a tertiary setting.