Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning

Unit rationale, description and aim

In the health profession, it is a requirement that you are able to perform person-centred care in a culturally competent manner. This requirement exists because all people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity regardless of their beliefs, values or attitudes. This unit is required by students to provide the foundation for culturally competent practice through the lens of Indigenous Australian culture to ensure graduates enter the workforce as culturally competent practitioners.

The social-historical-political context, cultural knowledges, and related health issues of Indigenous peoples across the world and in Australia will be the focus of this unit. The concept of globalisation will be introduced and explored with reference to the health of Indigenous peoples. Students will then examine the historical context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' health, contemporary issues in healthcare provision, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' ways of knowing, being and doing. The impact of current strategies to close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care will be examined, along with ways that the health care system can respond to the health needs of this group. The notion of culturally competent care will be introduced, and students will start to develop knowledge and skills needed to provide culturally competent care to people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

The aim of this unit is to provide health students with a solid foundation on which to build cultural competency across their undergraduate program - knowledge and skills that they will need to apply to their future health care practice. Aligned with cultural competence are principles of community engagement - in this unit, students will be introduced to community engagement and explore how they can apply these principles throughout their time at ACU and beyond.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Discuss the health consequences of globalisation as it relates to population groups, health practices and health care service delivery, with particular reference to Indigenous populations (GA2)

LO2 - Discuss the implications of socio-historical-political context for contemporary health related issues of the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; (GA2) 

LO3 - Critically evaluate how social and cultural factors shape the health beliefs, experiences and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other cultural groups; (GA4) 

LO4 - Apply the principles of cultural safety to enable culturally sensitive care to be applied across a range of populations and health care settings, but with particular reference to socially and culturally marginalized populations; (GA1)  

LO5 - Work respectfully with others to effectively communicate an understanding of cross-cultural Indigenous health care issues; (GA5, GA7) 

LO6 - Demonstrate understanding of principles of community engagement. (GA1, GA2)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 


The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s Registered Nurse Standards for Practice developed in this unit are: 

NMBA Registered Nurse Standards for Practice Learning Outcomes

1.Thinks critically and analyses nursing practice.   1, 2, 3, 6 

1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 

2.Engages in therapeutic and professional relationships.  4, 5, 6

2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.7 

Maintains the capability for practice.  4, 5, 6

3.2, 3.3, 3.7


Topics will include: 

The health consequences of globalisation with particular reference to  

  • Social determinants of health 
  • Inequalities in health status 
  • Global Indigenous health 


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health 

  • Indigenous Australian ways of knowing, being and doing 
  • Traditional ways of healing 
  • History and health consequences of colonisation  
  • Acute and chronic conditions, co-morbidity and disability amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 
  • Racism and the impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 
  • Effect of government policy on health and social wellbeing 


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care provision 

  • Policy and community initiatives in health care, including the Closing the Gap strategy 
  • Primary healthcare approach 
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care workers 
  • Self-determination and Aboriginal controlled healthcare organisations 
  • Reconciliation 


Cultural competence in health care 

  • Definitions and debates around cultural competence  
  • Knowledge and skills in the provision of culturally competent care 
  • Using a strengths-based approach 
  • Providing culturally appropriately care 
  • Multidisciplinary and multisectorial healthcare 


  • Introduction to community engagement in health 
  • Principles of working collaboratively with communities, capacity building, reciprocity, and transformative learning 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit requires students to undertake 150 hours of focused learning to achieve the unit learning outcomes. It has two delivery patterns: a standard full semester delivery pattern which is scheduled nationally; and an intensive delivery pattern which is scheduled off-shore. Modes of delivery in this unit for both full semester and intensive delivery patterns include lectures, tutorials, online activities and self-directed study. Consistent with adult learning principles, the teaching and learning strategies used within these modes of delivery will provide students with foundational knowledge and skills relevant to professional nursing practice. These strategies will also support students in meeting the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit and the broader course learning outcomes. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively with peers. 

This unit may also be offered on or off campus in intensive mode or multi-mode for sponsored / special cohorts, with the learning and teaching strategies being equitable with on campus mode offerings as endorsed by the School Curriculum Implementation Committee. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment items consistent with University assessment requirements and policy will be used to ensure students achieve the Unit Learning Outcomes and attain the Graduate Attributes. These assessments are required to build student knowledge and skills which, by the conclusion of this programme, will enable the student to graduate as a safe and effective health care professional. 

The oral assessment ensures sound communication skills which are required for all interactions as a health care professional; it assesses an understanding of issues specific to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The written assignment and exam (the exam will be substituted for an assignment for the intensive delivery pattern) examine cultural competence and associated knowledge which will direct future practice as a health care professional. These assessments are required to build student knowledge which, by the conclusion of this programme, will allow the student to graduate as a health care professional who can behave with cultural competence. This requirement exists because all people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity regardless of their beliefs, values or attitudes. 

As the intensive delivery pattern requires students to engage with the unit content in a condensed manner the written examination will be replaced with a second unit assignment. The rationale behind this is to provide students with the time they need to contemplate the unit content and sufficiently consider its application on their future health care practice.     

Intensive and multi-mode assessment of this unit will be transparently equitable with on campus mode offerings as endorsed by the relevant Course Implementation Committee. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Oral Presentation (Group Work) 

Enables students to demonstrate teamwork, communication, and articulate an understanding of cultural competence in health care – from local to global.  


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA7 

Written Assignment 

Enable students to demonstrate understanding of Indigenous health and culture for past, present and future practice.


LO2, LO3 

GA2, GA4

Written Examination (2 hour) 

(Central Examination Period) 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA5, GA7

Representative texts and references

Best, O., & Fredericks, B. (2014). Yatdjuligin: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Care. Port Melbourne: Vic.: Cambridge University Press. 

Burbank, V. K. (2011). An ethnography of stress: The social determinants of health in Aboriginal Australia (1st ed.). Basinstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.  

Council of Australian Governments. (2008). National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes. Retrieved from:

Couzos, S., & Murray, R. (Ed.). (2008). Aboriginal primary health care: An evidence based approach (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.  

Eckermann, A-K., Dowd, T., Chong, E., Nixon, L., Gray, R., & Johnson, S.  (2010). Binan goonj: Bridging cultures in Aboriginal health (3rd ed.). Chatswood, N.S.W.: Churchilll Livingstone/Elsevier. 

Germov, J. (Ed.). (2014). Second opinion: An introduction to health sociology (5th ed.). South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press.  

Gopinath, C. (2008). Globalization: A multidimensional system.  Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.  

Hampton, R. and Toombs, M. (Eds.). (2013). Indigenous Australians and health: The wombat in the room. South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press. 

Nederveen Pieterse, J., & Rehbein, B. (Eds.). (2011). Globalization and emerging societies: Development and inequality (2nd ed.). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.  

Taylor, K., & Guerin, P. (2014). Health care and Indigenous Australians: Cultural safety in practice (2nd ed.). South Yarra, VIC. Palgrave Macmillan.  

Weiss, G.L., & Lonnquist, L.E. (2012). The sociology of health, healing and illness (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.  

Willis, K., & Elmer, S. (2011). Society, culture and health: An introduction to sociology for nurse (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC.: Oxford University Press.  

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