Building The Blocks of Cultural Competency in Melbourne's North West




Building cultural responsiveness is a continuous project requiring ongoing review, assessment, recommendations and reform. This is more likely to occur when there is a designated position to drive cultural responsiveness reform across the organisation. The process of continual quality improvement (CQI) will require a range of strategies such as:

  • - use of reflective practice to guide culturally responsive service delivery;
  • - reviews of service user data;
  • - obtaining feedback from partnering Aboriginal community agencies;
  • - obtaining consumer feedback from Aboriginal service users;
  • - obtaining feedback from Aboriginal employees; and
  • - conducting additional cultural auditing activities on an regular basis.



Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) has two components. The first component requires assessment of the extent to which cultural competency strategies have been implemented effectively across the organisation. It involves not only having policies and processes in place, but refers to a system of regular reflection and refinement to ensure that the policies have been implemented as intended. The implementation of cultural responsiveness strategies are usually most effective when the project is prioritized as a strategic objective of the organisation, requiring regular progress reports to be provided to senior management and/or Governance bodies.

The second component of CQI is to ascertain whether the implementation of cultural responsiveness strategies has led to actual improved access and health outcomes for Aboriginal service users. This will require both an analysis of service user data, and processes implemented to obtain more in-depth feedback from Aboriginal community members about the extent to which the services were provided appropriately and competently.

As well as being used to establish an initial action plan for the implementation of cultural responsiveness strategies, a cultural audit can be used as an ongoing tool to assess on a regular basis whether cultural responsiveness standards are being maintained.


Title Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Quality Improvement Framework and Toolkit for Hospital Staff
Author St Vincent’s Hospital 2015
Type On-Line Toolkit

This resource contains quality improvement processes, tools and guidelines to enhance service response to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities. Designed for Australian hospitals, the Toolkit provides a systematic approach to improving Aboriginal health service delivery.

Title Continuous Quality Improvement Tool: Aboriginal Health in Acute Health Services and Mental Health Services
Author Victorian Department of Health 2013
Type On-Line Tool

The Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) tool was developed to support Victorian health services to provide culturally responsive healthcare to Aboriginal people in Victoria. The CQI tool can be used as a ‘self auditing tool’ and provides a means for health services to:

  • - reflect on progress and achievements in providing culturally responsive healthcare to Aboriginal patients;
  • - identify gaps in organisational and clinical practice;
  • - identify priorities for actions to improve the delivery and outcomes of healthcare, through organisation-wide initiatives and programs to Aboriginal patients; and
  • - ensure greater systemic effort and accountability for a whole-of-health-service CQI approach to healthcare and health outcomes for Aboriginal patients.


Title Cultural Competence in Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation
Author Centre for Culture, Ethnicity, and Health
Type Tip Sheet

This tip sheet addresses how to ensure that programmatic and operational plans address cultural competence issues, and how to assess the level of cultural competence in these plans.

Type Publication

Title Indigenous health: effective and sustainable health services through continuous quality improvement
Author Bailie, Ross S.; Si, Damin; O’Donoghue, Lynette; Dowden, Michelle
Type Publication

The Australian government’s Healthy for Life program is supporting capacity development in Indigenous primary care using continuous quality improvement (CQI) techniques.

An important influence on the Healthy for Life program has been the ABCD research project. The key features contributing to the success of the project are described. The ABCD research project uses a CQI approach, with an ongoing cycle of gathering data on how well organisational systems are functioning and developing and then implementing improvements; and is guided by widely accepted principles of community-based research, which emphasise participation; and adheres to the principles and values of Indigenous health research and service delivery.