Attitude or skills? Cultural competence development within an Aotearoa New Zealand bicultural framework


  • Yayoi Ide University of Auckland
  • Liz Beddoe The University of Auckland | Waipapa Taumata Rau, Aotearoa New Zealand


cultural competence, biculturalism, cultural safety, cultural humility


INTRODUCTION: Cultural competence is one of the most widely used approaches to cross- cultural practice among health and social care professions, including social work. Following the professional code of ethics, social workers must be competent in working with people across cultures. As a result, social work education has sought to teach students to prepare them to become culturally competent. The popular cultural competence model which includes the three components of awareness, knowledge, and skills is often used to measure students’ capability to work in cross-cultural situations. The model has an underlying premise that competency can be achieved through education and training. However, there is insufficient evidence that the three components (or each component in isolation) will improve students’ and practitioners’ competence.

METHODS: This article reports on a qualitative study. Qualitative research offers versatile methods of exploring the three components through gathering information about research participants’ educational learning experiences and analysing their application of its into practice.

FINDINGS: This study found that cultural competence is about enhancing the capability of practitioners to negotiate with differences in practice. Aotearoa New Zealand content on biculturalism in social work education has played a pivotal role in valuing cultural differences to foster. Cultural safety calls forth recognition of others and being more other-oriented, encompassing cultural humility. A receptive attitude toward difference is a by-product of cross- cultural skills for practice.

IMPLICATIONS: The study result strengthens support for the integration of cultural safety and cultural humility in teaching and learning cultural competence in social work education.


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How to Cite

Ide, Y., & Beddoe, L. (2022). Attitude or skills? Cultural competence development within an Aotearoa New Zealand bicultural framework. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 34(4), 47–60. Retrieved from



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