+ General Country Information
+ History
+ Concept of Time
+ Family and friends
+ Gender
+ I or We Attitudes
+ Manners and Taboos
+ Spiritual care
+ Communication Style
+ Greetings
+ Language and Communication
+ Non-verbal Communication - Eye contact
+ Non-verbal Communication - Gestures
+ Non-verbal Communication - Personal Space
+ Attitudes and understanding of dementia and other health issues
+ Attitudes to end of life care
+ Attitudes to pain
+ Attitudes to residential care
+ Care information
+ Cultural Activities
+ Cultural Traits
+ Food and Diet
+ Music
+ Special Days - Christmas
+ Special Days - Easter
+ Special Days - New Year
+ Special Days - Other
+ Superstitions

Compare with another culture

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Australian

Chinese

Croatian

Dutch

Filipino

German

Greek

Hungarian

Indian

Italian

Malaysian

Maltese

Maori

Nepalese

New Zealander

Polish

South Korean

Spanish

Sri Lankan

Ukrainian

Vietnamese

Generalist

Overview:

  • Australia is located in the continent of Oceania.
  • It does not share land borders with any other countries and is made up of more than 8,000 islands.
  • Australia is officially known as the Commonwealth of Australia and the capital city is Canberra.
  • Australia is the sixth largest nation in the world with a total area of 7,682,300km2. The population of Australia stands at approximately 24,000,000 people. (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016, Population clock).
  • The climate in Australia is varied. In the northern parts of the country Australia has a tropical climate and the southern parts of Australia have a temperate climate.
  • Australia is a very diverse nation with almost one-third of the population (28.2%) overseas-born, as at 30 June 2015. (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016).
  • The major countries of residents born overseas include; United Kingdom, New Zealand, China, India, Philippines and Vietnam.

Tips

  • Understand that a person’s country of birth does not define their culture. Whilst we are “born into culture” we are not “born with culture”. A person’s “culture” is something that is learnt from our environment and by our individual experiences. It continuously adapts to our changing circumstances throughout our lives.
  • Determine what culture or cultures your care recipient identifies with.
  • Keep in mind that the culture in metropolitan areas varies with culture in rural areas and that culture in different regions within a country may also vary significantly.
  • Learn about your care recipient’s life history, and who they identify with, to determine their individual cultural traits. Document any significant details.
  • Understand how your care recipient’s culture informs their values, behaviours, beliefs assumptions, likes, dislikes and sensitivities.

Resources

Generalist

  • The original custodians of Australia are the two unique Indigenous populations, the Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • The Indigenous cultures of Australia are the oldest living culture in the world (for further information see the “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander” section).
  • Another distinct culture is the Australian South Sea Islander people. Originating from Pacific Islands, mainly Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, they were brought to Australia between 1863 and 1904 to work on sugar cane and cotton farms in Queensland and northern New South Wales.  For further information on this unique cultural group see https://www.health.qld.gov.au/multicultural/health_workers/AusSSIsl2011.pdf
  • The continent of Australia was mapped out by Dutch, French and British navigators during the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • It was in 1770 that Captain James Cook charted the east coast and declared the land as ‘terra nullis’ (land belonging to nobody) and claimed it for Great Britain.
  • British penal colonies were established in New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia from 1788. Free settlers also began migrating to Australia and eventually made up a larger proportion of the population than the convicts.
  • South Australia is unique in that the original colony was made up entirely of free settlers in the 1830s.
  • During the 1850s, Queensland and Victoria separated from New South Wales. Soon after gold was discovered and immigrants came to Australia from all over the world.
  • The federal Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 with the unity of the six colonies. 

Tips

  • Determine exactly where your care recipient was born and where they lived. For example; was your care recipient born in Australia, or did they migrate to Australia? If they migrated, how and why did your care recipient migrate to Australia? What experiences and associations do they have of their home country? If they have lived in other countries; where have they lived? How long did they spend in other countries and what did they do whilst they were there?
  • Be aware and sensitive to any stress that may have been experienced as a result of their history (this may include; family separation, homesickness, conflict, depression and isolation). 
  • The knowledge of a person’s history may assist with a better understanding of the care recipient as well as any associated psychological issues resulting from their past.
  • Understand how your care recipient’s culture informs their values, behaviours, beliefs assumptions, likes, dislikes and sensitivities and document any significant details.

Resources

Generalist

  • The culture in Australia is defined as highly “individualist”.
  • This means that Australia is a society where the preference is for people to look after themselves and their immediate family.
  • Australia scores 90 on the Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV) index. (Hofstede centre).
  • The index scale ranges from 0-100 with 50 as a mid-level. The low numbers indicate “collectivist” cultures, and high numbers indicate “individualist” cultures.
  • In “individualist” cultures, employees are expected to be self-reliant and show initiative.

Tips

  • Identify and document if your care recipient is an “individualist” with an “I” attitude of self and immediate family, or a “collectivist” with a “we” or group attitude, or if they have both “collectivist” and “individualist” traits.
  • Allow for a “collectivist” person to feel the comfort of doing most things in a group setting and for an “individualist” person to have more opportunities for themselves.

Resources

Generalist

  • Due to the diversity within the Australian population there are a variety of religious beliefs. It is estimated that there are approximately 120 different religions practiced.
  • The largest religion in Australia is Western (Roman) Catholic, with 25.1% of the population, followed by Anglican (17.1%) and Uniting Church (5.0%). (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).
  • Behind Christianity the most common religious faiths include Buddhism, Islam, Hindu and Judaism. 
  • In Australia people have the right to express their religious beliefs freely. This freedom is outlined in the Australian constitution.
  • The Anti- Discrimination Act means that it is a criminal offence to discriminate against people because of their religious beliefs or practices.

General

  • Different cultures and religions have different expectations of care in regards to toileting, dressing and feeding.
  • Every culture and religion vary greatly in spiritual needs and this may impact on the acceptability of certain treatments and medications. Therefore, it is paramount to identify the care recipient’s religion and cultural background to appropriately address the supports and services required.
  • For further information, refer to "Spiritual care resources".

Tips

  • Accept and respect that customs, religious and spiritual beliefs vary from one culture to another and that the beliefs of your care recipient may significantly differ to your own beliefs.
  • Utilise resources and attend training sessions to increase your own knowledge about different religious and spiritual beliefs.
  • It is useful to ask care recipients a range of questions such as; ‘what helps you cope in difficult times’ and ‘what is important to you’ to determine ways to enhance their care.
  • Be aware of the significance of spiritual needs to your care recipient. Identify and document their religious beliefs and spiritual needs such as; any special requirements regarding food, personal care, linguistic needs or religious impacts towards treatments and/or medication.
  • Identify and provide access to relevant religious literature, radio, TV, live stream services, DVDs and CDs.
  • Support care recipients to maintain religious networks and religious representation and facilitate outings to places of worship.
  • Acknowledge and observe days of religious significance to your care recipients in a culturally appropriate manner.

Resources

Generalist

  • Priority to the immediate family is most common in Australia.
  • Approximately 72% of all Australians live in a family household and the types of families in Australia comprise of; couples without children (37.8%), couples with dependent children (36.7%), one-parent families with dependent children (10.6%), couples with non-dependent children only (7.9%) and one-parent families with non-dependent children only (5.3%).  (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).

Tips

  • Be aware and sensitive to the fact that some people may have become separated from family for a range of reasons including; Stolen Generations, war, conflict, disaster or migration.
  • Families and friends from different cultures will have a different understanding of dementia and their expectation of care for their loved one may vary significantly.
  • Provide communication and information in accordance with their language and literacy level and facilitate all achievable care expectations.
  • Gain an understanding of the dynamics of your care recipient’s family and friends and engage with them whenever required/needed.
  • Ensure that roles in decision-making about care of the person with dementia have been clearly established and documented.
  • Research indicates that carers of people living with dementia experience greater strain and distress than carers of other people.
  • It is important to be sensitive to the feelings of shame and guilt that family members and friends may be experiencing.                                                                                                                        “Family and friends” resources
  • A range of information to help support family and friends is available in the “Family and friends, resources” section below. .
  • A range of health information helpsheets in various languages is available in the “Language and communication, resources” section of this app.

Resources

Generalist

  • The national language of Australia is English.
  • Australia has its own unique accent and pronunciation of English words. There is also some variance in language between states and territories.
  • Australians generally use a lot of slang and may shorten words. For example, afternoon is often referred to as ‘arvo,’ breakfast is commonly known as ‘brekky’ and an ambulance officer is usually referred to as ‘ambo.’
  • The cultural diversity in Australia also means that Australians speak over 200 languages. About a quarter of these are Australian Indigenous languages.
  • The main languages (other than English) spoken at home by Australian-born people include: Mandarin, Italian, Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Vietnamese, Spanish, Hindi, Tagalog, German and Korean (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).

Tips

  • Being able to communicate effectively is crucial to the physical and emotional well-being of the care recipient.
  • Be careful not to underestimate or assume the communication capacity of a person with dementia.
  • Ensure that the care recipient has participation in decisions that affect them.
  • The words you use when speaking to, and about, a person with dementia matters. It is important to always use positive and enabling language and to not use words that may cause offense.
  • Ensure the health care and personal care plans and reviews identify and support the linguistic needs of your care recipient and their family.  Be mindful that linguistic considerations should include the care recipients’ menu choices, food services, their religious and spiritual needs, and their ability to participate in activities. Determine what language(s) they are able to speak, read and write. Communicate with them and provide information according to their language preference and literacy level.
  • Identify and record and health issues such as poor hearing, poor eyesight, dehydration or problems with dentures to ensure there is no miscommunication with your care recipient.
  • Be aware that most people with dementia will revert back to their native tongue and/or other languages they have learnt.
  • Care recipients should always be given the choice to use professional translators and interpreters. Provide professional translators and interpreters to your care recipients and/or to their family whenever they request the need, when the care plan is developed, when the care plan is reviewed and at any time when “informed consent” is required.
  • Care recipients often prefer to communicate with a care worker from their own cultural background therefore the use of bilingual staff or volunteers should be always be considered and provided whenever possible. The care recipient should however be given this choice rather than it be assumed that this is their preference.
  • Provide visual aids, use gestures and physical prompts, and learn and use key words in the person’s own language to improve communication during routine care and other simple service interventions.
  • Ensure that communication is adapted to the care recipient’s level of dementia and understand the importance of allowing more time for those in later stages to understand and respond to you.
  • Support your care recipients' individual choices by providing access to media such as radio, TV, live stream services, DVDs, CDs and books in their preferred language.
  • All staff and volunteers should undertake training in cultural awareness, appropriate communication and the correct use of telephone and on-site interpreting services.

Language and Communication resources

  • Refer to the “Language and Communication, Resources” section below for a wide range of information (including communication cards, signage, health information in community languages, etc.)
  • Translating and Interpreter contact details and other relevant information is available in the "Links, Translating and Interpreting" section. 

Advice and Support

  • Seek advice and support from the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) if required – phone 1800 699 799.

 

 

Resources

Generalist

  • Australians are usually referred to by their first name, although older people may prefer to be referred to by their full title (e.g. Mr or Mrs).
  • A man will usually greet another man with a firm handshake. A nod of the head may be used between family/friends.
  • A woman will usually greet another woman with a handshake. If the women are good friends/family they may give a single kiss on the cheek.
  • If a man and a woman are meeting in a formal situation, they will using shake hands. If they are good friends/family they may give a single kiss on the cheek.
  • If foreigners use the phrase ‘G’day mate’ to an Australian it is likely to be perceived as patronising therefore it is not suggested to be used.

Tips

  • Start building trust and rapport from the first time you meet your care recipient. Ensure you correctly pronounce their name. Smile and speak clearly. Be respectful and make sure the care recipient understands you.
  • Establish and document how your care recipient prefers to be greeted. Take into account; formality, titles, preferred name(s), any different greeting expectations from different genders or from people from a different generation, and the way(s) they like and dislike to be greeted. 
  • Understand that a person with severe dementia will think that each time they see you during the day is for the first time. Therefore ensure that you greet them in an appropriate, friendly and caring manner each time you meet.

Resources

Generalist

  • A direct and honest communication style is used and appreciated in Australia.
  • Humour (and sarcasm) is often used in general communication. It is not uncommon for people to tease and joke with each other in a friendly manner.
  • Arrogance usually earns disapproval. Being humble and modest is generally preferred.

Tips

Care recipient

  • Identify the communication style of your care recipient.
  • Be aware that communication styles vary from one culture to another.
  • Realise that physical, sensory, psychological and social issues can impact on the ability to communicate effectively. Make a note of any that are relevant to your care recipient.

Care worker

  • To ensure that the care recipient can understand you avoid speaking too quickly or using slang, acronyms or jargon. Also try not to give too much information at one time.
  • Be aware not to use patronising speech or a demeaning tone as this can lead to a communication breakdown.
  • Remember than non-verbal communication such as body language is just as important as verbal communication. Ensure that your tone matches your body language to avoid miscommunication.
  • Be kind and caring in your communication with the care recipient. Remember the person with dementia has a lifetime of experiences and is a person with feelings, even though may have lost the capacity to think or behave like they used to.

Resources

Generalist

  • Australians generally use direct eye contact.
  • It is expected that people will use eye contact during conversations and to avoid eye contact is usually considered rude or disrespectful.

Tips

Determine and document if the care recipient prefers direct or indirect eye contact and if there are any different expectations from different genders or from people from a different generation.

Resources

Generalist

  • A thumb up is often used to indicate “good” or “yes”.
  • A “V” with the pointer finger and the middle finger when the palm is outward facing is used to express “peace” or “victory.” However of the “V” is made and the palm is inward facing this sign becomes a rude gesture.
  • The sign of the middle finger up with no other fingers is considered as a very rude gesture.

Tips

  • Any gestures you use need to be respectful to the person with dementia.
  • Body language can provide important clues and increased understanding for both the carer and the care recipient. However many gestures have different meanings in different cultures therefore take care to ensure there is no miscommunication.
  • Document any gestures that the care recipient prefers to use or any gestures they find offensive.
  • Determine if the care recipient has expectations from different genders or from people from a different generation in relation to the use of touch. For example; if they find it appropriate/comforting for someone to hold their hand when they are upset or in pain.

Resources

Generalist

  • Personal space is valued, especially when people are not family or friends.
  • An arm’s length is a rough guide of an acceptable amount of space to allow during conversations.
  • During conversations touch is generally minimal.
  • Between friends and family a light touch may be used to show closeness. Safe non-sexual touching zones include the shoulders, upper-arms and elbows.

Tips

  • Determine and document how the care recipient feels about their personal space and if there are any different expectations from different genders or from people from a different generation.
  • Allow for a “collectivist” person (with a “we” or group attitude) to feel the comfort of doing most things in the space with others (group settings) and for an “individualist” person (with an “I” attitude of self and immediate family) to have opportunities to have personal space for themselves.

Resources

Generalist

  • Australians are generally punctual.                                        
  • Punctuality is considered important, especially in business situations and functions such as weddings, christenings and funerals.
  • Services such as public transport mostly run to schedule.
  • Australians are generally a relaxed culture and they give their time to help out others when required.

Tips

  • Determine and document how the care recipient and the family view “the concept of time”. For example; do they like to be punctual? Do they expect others to be punctual?
  • Ensure the care recipient's concept of time does not adversely impact on meal times, activities and other scheduled events.
  • Be mindful that shaming and blaming someone for being late can cause feelings of guilt and low self-esteem. Instead, use positive communication. For example; you might ask “Would a different time would be more suitable”?

Resources

Generalist

Global Gender Gap Index 2016 rankings

  • Australia was ranked 46th on a global index measuring gender equality out of 144 countries. (World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2016).

Marriage

  • After colonisation the Government assumed control over who the majority of people could marry.
  • There were different state laws relating to marriage so the Marriage Act 1961 (known as the Marriage Act) was introduced to regulate marriage law uniformly across Australia. (Australian Government).
  • Marriage in Australia is limited to a union between a man and a woman over the age of 18 and must be entered into by both people with free and full consent.
  • In Australia, a forced marriage is illegal and both spouses are equally entitled to initiate divorce.

Same Sex Relationships

  • There were approximately 33,700 same sex households in 2011 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011). Within these households, there were more male households than female households (52% and 48% respectively). (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).
  • 12% of the same sex households had children (including adult children). Same sex couples with children were more common for female rather than male couples (22% and 3% respectively). (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).

Inheritance

  • There are equal inheritance rights for sons and daughters in Australia.

Violence

  • Domestic violence, especially violence against women is a significant issue in Australia. 

 

Tips

  • For many people with dementia the gender of the care workers is important, particularly in sensitive situations. Determine and document if they have any preferences, concerns or expectations regarding care provided by someone of a different gender.
  • Accept and respect that male-female roles in families may vary significantly among different cultures.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersexed (LGBTI) people with dementia

  • Don’t assume the gender preference of the person with dementia.
  • Recognise that even those that have children may not be completely heterosexual and understand that it could take some time for a care recipient to gain enough trust to share personal information about their gender preference.
  • Begin by evaluating yourself and any assumptions, phobias, biases or beliefs that you might hold internally.
  • Utilise resources and attend training sessions to increase your own knowledge about LGBTI people.
  • Understand the importance of your first and immediate reaction or response. Be aware of your own reactions - not only what you think, but also be aware of what you say and what body language you use.
  • Most LGBTI people have experienced rejection, stigma, discrimination and abuse and therefore have a fear of receiving inadequate treatment, being denied services or facing further discrimination or prejudice. It is vitally important to create a non-judgmental open and caring atmosphere free from discrimination. Confidentiality is also a vital aspect of care for LGBTI care recipients.
  • Be careful with the terminology you use to the care recipient and their partners.
  • Provide partners of LGBTI care recipients with the same respect and privileges that you would give to a spouse or relative.     

Resources

Generalist

Dementia in Australia

  • Dementia is a significant health issue in Australia, with more than 413,106 Australians living with dementia. (Dementia Australia, 2017).
  • There are approximately 25,100 people in Australia with younger onset dementia (a diagnosis of dementia under the age of 65; including people as young as 30). (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012, Dementia in Australia).
  • Three in ten people over the age of 85 and almost one in ten people over 65 have dementia. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012, Dementia in Australia).
  • Dementia is a National Health priority area in Australia.

Dementia awareness

  • To increase awareness of dementia in Australia, Dementia Australia holds the annual Dementia Awareness Month for the month of September.
  • Internationally, Alzheimer’s associations unite to acknowledge World Alzheimer’s Day on the 21st of September.

Australian attitudes to sickness and hospitals

  • Sickness is generally accepted as a fact of life.
  • The loss of independence resulting from chronic illness is a major frustration for many elderly Australians.

Tips

  • The amount of understanding and acceptance of dementia may vary significantly among different cultures, families and individuals. Determine the understanding of dementia of the care recipient and their family, if they accept dementia and if stigma is associated.
  • Provide information to the care recipient and their family according to their language preference and literacy level.
  • Ensure that people with dementia and their families are aware of dementia information and of support services available.

Dementia resources

  • A wide range of information is available in the Attitudes and understanding of dementia disability and illness, resources section below.
  • Contact details for Alzheimer’s Australia offices are available in the “Links, Alzheimer’s Australia offices” section of this app.

Advice and Support

  • Seek advice and support from the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) if required – phone 1800 699 799.

Resources

Generalist

  • Community services are increasing in Australia and it is becoming more common for families to provide care at home. However, there often comes a time when the care needs of family members increase too much and therefore residential care is needed.
  • Generally, Australians are understanding of the need to place family members in residential care.
  • Placing a family member into residential care can however be a difficult time for the family as well as for the person moving into residential care.
  • Many Australians hold a negative view of residential care. This is often related to the loss of independence.
  • More than 50% of residents in Australian Government-subsidised aged care facilities have dementia. (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012, Residential aged care in Australia 2010-11: A statistical overview. Cat. no. AGE 68. Canberra).

Tips

  • The meaning or value of residential or community care may vary greatly among cultures.
  • Be aware that many people will not want to hear about or talk about residential care until crisis point.
  • Understand that families and friends from different cultures will have different expectations for the care of people, particularly in regards to toileting, dressing, feeding and other self-help skills.
  • Allow the care recipient and their family to make choices to suit the individual’s care needs.
  • Ask care recipients questions about what can be done to achieve quality of life and help them have meaningful lives that enable them to pursue their cultural interests and passions in accordance with any frailty, disability or cognitive impairment.
  • Understand and facilitate all achievable care expectations of the care recipient and their family.

Resources

Generalist

  • Generally, most Australians demonstrate a stoic/tolerant attitude towards pain.
  • Pain behaviour studies suggest there is a need to be cautious of ethnic or cultural stereotypes. Therefore, even though there are findings of general cultural differences it is considered very important to evaluate the pain of each person individually.
  • Clinical recommendations regarding pain treatment are available in the “Attitudes to pain Resources” section of this app.

Tips

  • Research indicates that pain and discomfort are frequently under reported and under treated amongst people with dementia.
  • Ensure care recipients and their family understand pain relief medication and treatment options by providing information in their preferred language and in accordance with their language ability.
  • Religion and culture may influence your care recipients pain experience including; their pain expression, pain language, remedies for pain, social roles and expectations and perceptions of the medical care system.
  • Understand that for some religious or spiritual beliefs, fate and/or karma may mean that your care recipient also believes their illness and pain are caused by a higher power.
  • Care recipients may feel it is important to accept their pain in order to demonstrate their religious / spiritual faith. This may also impact their request for pain medication and treatment.
  • Identify and support the cultural and religious impact on the acceptability of certain treatments and medications.
  • Identify, respect and document how your care recipient and their family view and express pain.
  • Pay particular attention to verbal expressions of pain during later stages of dementia and ensure adequate treatment is provided.

Resources

Generalist

  • Australians are often fearful of leaving the burden of their funeral costs to those left behind.
  • Funerals generally take place within seven to ten days of the death.
  • When someone dies, it is most common for family, friends and work colleagues to attend the funeral. People generally wear black, particularly elderly people.
  • People generally express their grief by crying quietly.
  • People express their sympathy by sending flowers and/or placing death notices in the paper.
  • A sound understanding of the dying patient’s meaning of end of life care is imperative to truly deliver individualised palliative care.

Tips

  • Understand that attitudes to end of life care, death and dying are diverse and may include a range of factors such as cultural and religious beliefs.
  • Be aware that the acceptance of certain treatments and medications are likely to be impacted upon by cultural and religious factors.
  • Identify and support “end of life choices” of care recipients and their family. Note: these are formally known as “Advanced Care Directives” or “Advanced Care Planning” depending on the state or territory in Australia that you are in. Ensure their choices are documented and strictly followed.
  • Ensure the linguistic needs of care recipients are addressed in end of life religious and spiritual support.
  • Ensure family members have access to appropriate resources and support in their preferred language and in accordance with their language ability.

Resources

Generalist

Manners

  • Australians generally use “please” when asking for something, “thank you” when receiving something, “excuse me” for bodily noises such as sneezing etc., needing to interrupt, needing to leave, passing in front of someone and use “sorry” when they feel bad about something.

Taboos

  • The use of racist and sexist language and behaviour is highly discouraged and in many situations may be considered illegal (under the Racial Discrimination Act and Sex Discrimination Act).

Tips

  • “Manners” and “taboo” expectations and beliefs may vary greatly among cultures resulting in differing emotions and behaviours in your care recipient.
  • Be aware of your own beliefs and expectations of “manners” and “taboo” beliefs and how these may differ to those of your care recipient.
  • Be aware of judging other people's behaviour, expectations and beliefs according to the standards of your own culture.
  • Be aware that the care recipient may judge your behaviour according to the standard of their own culture.
  • It is important to recognise, accept and document individual interpretations of “manners” and “taboo” expectations and beliefs of your care recipient and their family.

Resources

Generalist

  • Some Australians believe in superstitions.
  • The most common include; if you break a mirror you will have seven years bad luck and Friday 13th is an unlucky day.

Tips

  • Superstitions may be considered as old wives’ tales, family traditions or have a significant meaning and be taken seriously.
  • Be aware of your own beliefs and how these may differ to those of your care recipient.
  • Be aware of judging other people's superstitious beliefs according to the standards of your own culture.
  • Be aware that the care recipient may judge your beliefs according to the standard of their own culture.
  • It is important to recognise, accept and document individual interpretations of superstitious beliefs.

Resources

Generalist

  • Australia is a very multicultural society and as a result a diverse range of cuisines is available. Some foods associated with Australia include:
  • Toast with vegemite
  • Bacon and eggs
  • Barbeques (BBQs)
  • Seafood
  • Meat pies with tomato sauce
  • Damper
  • Desserts such as; Pavlova, Lamingtons, Cream sponge and Anzac biscuits.
  • Popular non-alcoholic drinks include; tea, coffee, juices, cordials, soft drinks, energy drinks and water (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011).

Dining etiquette

  • If you are invited to someone’s place for a meal, it is polite to ask the host whether there is anything you can bring. Typically guests will bring their own wine or beer.
  • It is polite to offer to help the host with food preparation or clearing up after the meal.

Table manners

  • Knives and forks are used and generally, the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right hand therefore table settings follow the same setting.
  • To show that you have finished eating, your knife and fork is placed parallel on the plate.
  • It can be considered rude to place your elbows on the table whilst eating.

Tips

  • Food is an important aspect of cultural identity, therefore it is important to identify food preferences, likes and dislikes including eating habits, meal times, preferred setting, preferred eating utensils etc.
  • Identify and facilitate cultural food when possible and ensure the impact of religion on food services is documented, adhered to and regularly reviewed.
  • Provide menu choices and food services information in the preferred language of care recipients, or with pictures if the person has difficulty reading. 
  • Consider alternative ways to facilitate culturally appropriate food such as; obtaining recipes from family/friends, specific meal delivery services, community groups, seniors’ clubs, or and/or other clubs.
  • Ensure that the care recipient is given food choices throughout all stages of dementia.

Food and diet resources

  • A wide range of information (including religious food requirements, nutrition information and recipes) is available in the “Food and diet resources” section below.
  • Advice and Support - Seek advice and support from the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) if required – phone 1800 699 799

Resources

Generalist

  • A person-centred care approach helps organisations provide accessible, responsive and flexible services that meet the diverse needs and preferences of people living with dementia in our community. 
  • Many people with dementia want to remain independent for as long as possible and rely on the community care system to help them achieve this.

Additional care considerations when working with Australian people

  • Care recipients and family members care expectations may vary significantly due to the multicultural diversity in Australia.
  • In recent years in Australia there has been an increased emphasis by the government to keep people out of health and residential facilities for as long as possible due to cost benefits and because it conforms to the wishes of the majority of Australian people.
  • Care recipients and Care workers have rights and responsibilities in Australia. For further information, refer to the “Care information Resources” section.

Tips

  • Identify and document the care needs of your care recipient and continuously re-evaluate how their dementia progression affects their care needs.
  • Make every effort to understand a dementia behaviour before attempting to manage it, as you will often discover that what lies behind it is a genuine attempt to communicate an unmet need.  

Care information resources

  • A wide range of information is available (e.g. personal hygiene, sleeping, incontinence etc.) in the “Care information, resources” section below.
  • Advice and Support - Seek advice and support from the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS) if required – phone 1800 699 799.
  • Employee/employer resources - A range of information is available under “Links – Other useful weblinks”.

Resources

Generalist

A “Fair Go”

  • Australians believe in equal opportunity and for everyone to be given “fair go”. They often support the “underdog” (the one that is not the favourite).

Mateship

  • ‘Mates’ or friends are valued highly.

Modesty

  • Australians are generally down to earth and modest people and they tend to be humble about their achievements.

Multicultural

  • After World War II there was a wave of European migration (including people from Greece, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Lebanon and Turkey).
  • In more recent times, there has been migration from Asia and Africa as well as other parts of the world.
  • Australia is now a multicultural country which is reflected in the diverse range of cuisines, faiths and festivals.

Tips

  • Everyone has “culture”. This includes a number of factors such as ethnicity, identity, age, gender, education, sexual orientation, ability/disability, values, beliefs, attitudes etc.
  • Recognise your own cultural traits and influences and be mindful not to judge other people’s behaviour and beliefs according to the standard of your own culture.
  • Be aware that your care recipient may judge your behaviour and beliefs according to the standard of their own culture.
  • Your care recipient may be “similar to others” but “no two people are the same” so take care not to generalise or make assumptions about them. Gain general cultural information from resources to assist with conversations to allow you to identify your care recipient’s individual cultural traits.
  • Understand and document how your care recipient’s individual cultural traits impact their care needs.
  • Increase your knowledge about different cultural practices and issues through resources, cultural background information sessions and/or cultural awareness training.

Cultural Traits resources

  • Find information (such as guides and cultural profiles created by other organisations) in the “Cultural Traits, resources” section below.
  • You will also find information including; links to community contacts, cultural profiles, useful weblinks etc. in the “Links” section of the app.

Resources

Generalist

  • Easter is celebrated in Australia.
  • Easter falls on the Sunday after the ecclesiastical Full Moon that falls on or after March 21. Easter is therefore observed between late March and late April and can extend to early May in the Eastern Christian churches.
  • Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion.
  • Easter is one of the most significant events of the Christian calendar.

Easter traditions

  • Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day)
  • For practising Christians Shrove Tuesday is traditionally about preparing for Lent. Lent is a time during which sins are repented and people choose to give up luxury items in preparation for Easter. Traditionally people would not eat meat, eggs and milky foods during the period of Lent. Therefore, so that these foods would not go to waste, pancakes would be made to use up these items. In Australia some communities come together and share pancakes, including charities who sell pancakes to raise money.
  • Hot Cross Buns
  • Traditionally, these are sweet buns that are made with dried fruit and spices and have a cross (the symbol of Christ) on top. For practising Christians these buns are eaten on Good Friday in observance of the crucifixion of Christ. However, in Australia hot cross buns now come in a variety of different flavours (such as chocolate) and are available for extended periods of time before Easter.
  • Easter Eggs
  • In line with the religious meaning of Easter, eggs symbolise new life.

Non- religious traditions

  • The Easter Bunny
  • Easter Sunday is when the Easter Bunny ‘leaves’ chocolate Easter eggs for children.
  • Four-day ‘weekend’
  • In Australia, the public holidays over Easter mean that Easter is a 4 day long weekend for most people.

Tips

  • Understand the importance of Easter to your care recipient and accept and respect that customs and beliefs about Easter are different from culture to culture.
  • Identify, document and support any spiritual/religious needs of your care recipients.
  • Identify, document and facilitate any dietary requirements.

 

Resources

Generalist

  • Christmas is celebrated in Australia.
  • Christmas Day is the 25th of December and celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • Within Christian beliefs, Jesus is “the son of God” who was sent to earth to save mankind.

Christmas customs

  • For the religious, Christmas Mass is attended at church.
  • Christmas trees (either real or plastic) are put in homes with decorations such as lights and baubles.
  • Some people attend Carols by Candlelight at local gatherings. Most of these are held on the days/weeks leading up to Christmas.
  • Children are taken to visit “Father Christmas” to tell him the presents they wish to receive on Christmas Day.
  • Gifts are exchanged on Christmas Day.
  • Christmas lunch and/or dinner is shared with family/friends on Christmas Day.
  • Many people celebrate Christmas Day with their family/friends at the beach or outdoors as the warm Australian summer weather is well suited to outdoor celebrations.

Food

  • It is customary to share a meal with family at Christmas. This is often at lunchtime.
  • Due to the hot summer weather, a ‘cold’ lunch is popular. This usually includes cold meats such as ham and turkey as well as seafood such as prawns and crayfish (lobster), along with salads. Some families may have a Christmas barbeque.
  • Christmas desserts also feature in Australian Christmases, including Christmas pudding (which may be served cold) and Pavlova (meringue dessert with cream and fruit).
  • Christmas crackers (or bonbons) are usually shared at Christmas meal times. These often include a colourful paper hat, a joke to share and sometimes a small novelty toy.

Sport

  • Christmas time includes two major sporting events:
  • The ‘Boxing Day Test’ which is the beginning of a Cricket Test Match between Australia and an international team. This is played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and is televised throughout Australia and the world.
  • The ‘Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race’ which is a significant yacht race that starts on Boxing Day from Sydney Harbour. It is also televised and watched by many people in Australia, and in other countries around the world.

Tips

  • Understand the importance of Christmas to your care recipient and accept and respect that customs and beliefs about Christmas are different from culture to culture.
  • Identify, document and support any spiritual/religious needs of your care recipients.
  • Identify, document and facilitate any dietary requirements.

Resources

Generalist

  • New Year is celebrated in Australia.
  • Celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve, 31st of December, the last day of the Gregorian calendar and continue until New Year’s Day.
  • People join family and friends to ‘see in the new year’. Due to the hot Australian summer weather parties and celebrations are often held outdoors at homes, the beach and other venues.
  • Many people countdown to the New Year.
  • In Australia fireworks displays are held throughout the country. The biggest display occurs in Sydney Harbour. These are televised throughout Australia and the world.
  • People reflect on the previous year and may also make New Year’s resolutions (or goals) for the New Year.
  • New Year’s Day, the 1st of January, is a national public holiday to mark the beginning of the New Year.

Tips

  • Understand the importance of New Year to your care recipient and accept and respect that customs and beliefs about New Year are different from culture to culture.
  • Identify, document and support any spiritual/religious needs of your care recipients.
  • Identify, document and facilitate any dietary requirements.

Resources

Generalist

National Australian Public Holidays

  • 1st January - New Year’s Day (refer to information listed in Special Days New Year)
  • 26th January – Australia Day
  • This ‘National day of Australia’ marks the arrival of the first fleet in Australia and the founding of the colony in New South Wales. Many Australian citizenship ceremonies are held on this day and people may celebrate ‘being an Australian’ in a variety of ways such as; holding a barbecue or sharing other types of Australian food and drinks with family or friends, playing cricket, or going to the beach with friends. Sensitivity is required as increasing amounts of people do not find this date to be a day of celebration and they may instead refer to this day as ‘Invasion Day’, ‘Day of Mourning’, ‘Survival Day’ or ‘Aboriginal Sovereignty Day’.
  • Usually around March/April - Good Friday (refer to information listed in Special Days Easter)
  • Usually around March/April - Easter Monday (refer to information listed in Special Days New Year)
  • 25th April - Anzac Day
  • This day marks the anniversary of the first major military action during the First World War fought by Australian and New Zealand forces. Services and marches are held in remembrance of all Australians killed in military operations.
  • 25th December - Christmas Day (refer to information listed in Special Days Christmas)
  • 26 December - Boxing Day is celebrated by countries in ‘the Commonwealth of Nations’ (an association of 53 independent and sovereign states, most that were former British colonies or dependencies of these colonies). The origin is unclear. It is thought by some to refer to boxed gifts that were given out by employers. To others, the origin is thought to refer to the opening and distribution of the church donation box for people in need. In Australia, Boxing Day falls in the summer school holidays. People often spend time with family and or friends. Watching sporting events and going to Boxing Day shopping sales are also popular.

Other public holidays such as ‘Labour Day’ are celebrated on dates determined by individual states and territories.

Other significant days

  • Mother’s Day - The second Sunday in May is a day to celebrate mothers.
  • Father’s Day - The first Sunday in September is a day to celebrate fathers.
  • Melbourne Cup - First Tuesday in November is Australia’s most famous horse race. It is a public holiday in Victoria.                                                                            
  • Football grand finals - The Australian Football League (AFL) Grand Final is an annual Australian Rules football match. The date of the AFL final match varies. National Rugby League Football (NRL) is another popular football game, particularly in the states of New South Wales and Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. The date of the NRL final match also varies.

Tips

  • Understand the importance of any significant days to your care recipient and accept and respect that customs and beliefs about special days are different from culture to culture.
  • Identify, document and support any spiritual/religious needs of your care recipients.
  • Identify, document and facilitate any dietary requirements.

Resources

Generalist

General Activities

  • Australian Quizzes (Australian history and culture)
  • Bingo
  • Card games (such as Uno)
  • Church/ devotion                                                                                                                                             
  • Cooking (Traditional Australian dishes)
  • Film Night or image DVD`s for reminiscing
  • Newspaper/magazine reading
  • Sing-alongs (Traditional Australian songs)

Special days/activities                                                                                                                                     

  • Australia Day celebration  
  • Barbeques
  • Easter activities (egg hunt, painting eggs etc.)                                                                                                          
  • Melbourne Cup
  • Christmas activities (carols, craft project etc.)

Reminiscence                                                                                                                                                     

  • Smell or taste - Using smell kits or different foods. Suggestions include: bananas, oranges, lemons, mangos, vanilla, honey, vegemite and eucalyptus.
  • Sight - Photographs, cookbooks, slides, films, painting pictures, looking at objects. (Refer to the “Cultural activities resource” section for some visual ideas).          
  • Touch - Touching objects, feeling textures, painting and pottery. Pampering, massage hands, etc. (if it is considered culturally appropriate by the care recipient and they trust you to do this without being intrusive).
  • Sound - Personalised playlists, listening to familiar tunes from the radio, CD's, YouTube, listening to cultural performances, or making music using various instruments. (Refer to the “Music resources” section for some music ideas).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Tips

  • It is important to understand your care recipient’s activity likes and dislikes and their personal history to plan appropriate activities for them.
  • Your care recipient should be provided with a choice of activities to participate in.
  • Participating in suitable activities can help a person with dementia to achieve purpose and pleasure, help to improve their mood, responses, memory function, increase social interaction, sleep, improve verbal and non-verbal communication and restore a sense of identity. Activities also play a significant part in increasing the person’s wellbeing and confidence which will decrease responsive behaviours or ill-being.
  • It is important that activities are suitable to the level of ability of the person with dementia. People with dementia should be encouraged to participate as independently as possible and be given the choice to participate or to watch others.
  •  Always talk to the person’s doctor before starting them on a new exercise program and ensure the program designed for them takes into account their current health and ability.
  • Alzheimer’s Australia SA, local council libraries or community organisations may be able to loan suitable cultural activities such as music, games, videos etc.

Cultural activity resources

  • For cultural activity information and ideas, refer to the “Cultural activities, resources” section below.
  • For local community contact details, refer to the “Links, Community Contacts” section of this app.

Resources

Generalist

  • Music in Australia is diverse.
  • Traditional Australian music goes back to Indigenous communities and traditional instruments such as the didgeridoo.
  • Colonial societies also brought with them folk music and bush ballads which had Anglo-Celtic influences. An iconic example includes Waltzing Matilda.
  • Contemporary Australian music includes Australian pop, rock and country music.
  • Australians enjoy music from around the world and music from different eras (50’s, 60’s etc.).

Music styles that may be of interest

  • Australian folk songs
  • Country
  • Music from different eras
  • Relaxation music
  • Carols

Specific artists that may be of interest

  • Alex Hearst
  • Bing Crosby
  • Billie Holiday
  • Johnny Cash
  • John McSweeney
  • John Page
  • Georgina Rae
  • Tony O'Connor

Tips

  • Music is the most powerful universal language.
  • Music provides an external rhythm and can restore a person back to themselves, and to others, at least for a while.
  • People tend to remain contactable as musical beings on some level right up to the very end of life.
  • It is important to understand your care recipient’s music likes and dislikes and to provide them with their choice of music to listen to.
  • Create a personalised music playlist for your care recipient for their maximum benefit and enjoyment.
  • Provide opportunities for the person with dementia to watch live music performances.
  • Providing music a person relates to can have a wide range of benefits to the care recipient. Benefits may include; helping to improve their mood, responses, memory function, increase social interaction, improve verbal and non-verbal communication and restore a sense of identity.

Resources