Awareness in Identifying Cultural Biases and Racism in Social Work

Awareness in Identifying Cultural Biases and Racism in Social Work


Critical self-reflection and awareness in identifying own cultural biases

Our predecessors have always told us that the culture we live in is the best culture, which can be the first aspect to highlight while reflecting our own cultural biases. As a child when we get to accept a notion regarding certain phenomena, we tend to accept the same to be a fact. Therefore, in the event when our predecessors tell us that we have the best culture and do not accept the norms of other cultures to be logical, we further tend to have a feeling of superiority over a race we do not belong.

As an Aboriginal and Torres Islander person in Australia, I can point out cultural biases from within towards non-indigenous people, however, that can be limited in comparison to the volume of racism faced by the indigenous people in Australia by the non-indigenous population.

Within Australia, the population of indigenous people constitutes merely 3% of the overall population. Thus, major studies and reports have revealed that nearly 75% of the population hold an implicit bias against the Aboriginal and Torres Islander, which is evident in terms of basic health care to education and job opportunities.  Although, the Aboriginal and Torres Islander have the notion regarding non-indigenous people that whites are not the actual resident of the land and still may have the negative perception for whites as they subjugated the native lands of Aboriginal and Torres Islander. Yet, the deprivation and discriminations faced by the Aboriginal and Torres Islander are beyond comparison.

From the perspective of an Aboriginal and Torres Islander, it can be stated that non-indigenous mainly the withes do enjoy many privileges in comparison to natives, as noted from several studies, there are more cases of undefined arrest of native youths than white youths. Likewise, the rate of unemployment and the lower average income is evident in the native community along with a lower rate of life expectancy. However, reports indicate that health-related issues within the Aboriginal and Torres Islander community are the result of their own cultural biases, which to some extent I can agree as the age-old holistic view regarding spiritual well-being is still prominent to some extent within the community.

Racism within today’s society

In the current society, racism is evident although there are various global efforts to reduce the same. Racism can be termed as a threat to global peace as prejudices and discrimination in terms of colour, race and creed is seen in various parts of the world. The instance of the ongoing pandemic situation can be cited here as it has been noted from various news articles where the virus begins related to a particular race and ethnicity. Evidence of assault on Asian communities in the European nations has marked the seriousness of racism and its ill effect upon the global society, thus justifying the reason for highlight racism as a threat to global peace.

Having said that, in the case of the Aboriginal and Torres Islander, it is noted that the community in Australia have to face an unwelcoming environment when it comes to treatment in the health care sector. Aboriginal and Torres Islanders family and patients have faced discrimination by the health care workers, which results in the hesitancy of the community to access health services in the residential schools and community hospitals. In addition to this, the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Islander in Australia in comparison to whites therein is highly different as the Aboriginal and Torres Islander usually encounters microaggressions.

Microaggression refers to the implicit bias stated in the section above, in other words, it can be illustrated as disapproval, insult or causal degradation by a culture that tries to be dominant over a minority population. Thus, racism in the current society is evident and the highlighted behavioural aspects are evident in the case of Aboriginal and Torres Islander.

Ways to incorporate AASW social work values and principles

The role of the framework of AASW is to incorporate reforms that can reduce bias or discrimination on racial grounds and promote ethical; behaviour. However, the key issue as per my evaluation is that the comprehension of the non-indigenous people regarding the indigenous population. The importance of human relationships is the focus of the AASW policies, however, the challenges in incorporating the same acts as a barrier in eliminating the prejudices against the Aboriginal and Torres Islander. Therefore, an integrated approach allowing both indigenous and non-indigenous community to participate can reflect each other’s culture and be aware of the cultural aspects can help in developing a racism-free society.

The core values of the AASW framework is respect for the person, Social justice and professional integrity. Thus, the first value, which is respect for a person cannot be enforced upon the society as from the discussion we have identified that implicit biases regarding the indigenous community are evident. Therefore, in this regard, the role of the authority should be to highlight the community on the larger platform so that the non-indigenous population be aware of the cultural norms of the indigenous people. However, in doing so, it is important to display the cultural norms of the community from the perspective of an indigenous mind rather than portraying the same through white or other non-indigenous community.

Similarly, biases in terms of community service can be eliminated through strict compliance adherence and penalty for non-compliance in case of social injustice evident in the community service sectors be it health care or other public services. Accordingly, professional integrity can be achieved by enrolling indigenous people in the organisations. However, for the same, it is important for the organisation to value diversity within the workplace. Cultural diversity and promotion within the organisation will also help the indigenous community to tackle changes in terms of discrimination and microaggression often faced in place of work or areas of public gathering. Thus, it can be said that cultural norms and social structure are complex, and difference in cultural beliefs and practises are inevitable, however, as humans our approach should be to respect the dignity of individuals and put effort to establish a better society through the promotion of diversity and protection of one’s own cultural identity.