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HEA8302 Culture as a Determinant of Health

Semester 1, 2015 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Nursing and Midwifery

Contents on this page


Examiner: Jo Hudson
Moderator: Don Gorman


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: GCHH or GDHH or MOHH or PMHN or MNRS or MNSG or PDEV

Other requisites

Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to UConnect for this course.


Culture is increasingly recognised as a key determinant of health, both in Australia and internationally. While ‘cultural competence’ has emerged as a distinct area of practice within clinical care settings, perceptions of effective practice from a community and social determinants of health perspective remain limited. Furthermore perceptions of culture by practitioners are often restricted to ‘ethnicity’.

This course prepares health and social well-being practitioners practising within a broad range of health and well-being settings (from clinic to community) to work effectively with culture in all its facets through utilising an empowerment approach with individuals and communities.

Given the serious health status of Indigenous Australians and the subsequent need to reduce health disparities, cultural equity, competence and safety are pre-requisite skills for the health professional who wishes to engage in effective health practice with these communities. Further, many areas of Australia have community members who come from non-English speaking backgrounds or are of cultural minority status in other ways. Health and social wellbeing professionals need to engage in practices that are culturally appropriate to these people. This course will provide them with the knowledge and skills for this purpose.


The purpose of this course is to enable health and social well-being practitioners to increase theoretical understanding of the ways in which issues of culture impact on health and to develop the necessary skills to address these issues effectively. In adopting a `determinants of health' approach the scope of application is relevant for clinical, community and socio-political settings.

Power, the use of professional power and cultural equity are major themes. Students are provided with the opportunity to explore a broad and multi-faceted notion of culture, including the potential impact on health status of belonging to multiple, cultural minority groups. Content and assessment items in this course lead to knowledge, analytical and practice skills in effectively working with culture as a key determinant of health for the health and well-being of individuals and communities.


On successful completion of this course students will have:

  1. Identify the ways in which dynamics of culture and power shape health outcomes and explain the relevance of a human rights framework and empowerment practice, in effectively working with these dynamics to enable health equity.
  2. Identify and explain the ways in which dynamics impact on particular cultural contexts and communities (including Australian Indigenous, migrant and refugee groups, and a wide range of other cultural communities) at individual, community, institutional and socio-political levels.
  3. Critically reflect on the ethics of, and use of, professional power in working effectively with culture as a determinant of health.
  4. Demonstrate competence in analysing the dynamics active in community health practice contexts and apply suitable strategies (ranging from cultural competence and safety to cultural equity) in working effectively with culture as a determinant of health as a health professional.
  5. Demonstrate competence in and appropriate use of language and literacy, including spelling, grammar, punctuation and bibliographic referencing.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Theory: Culture as a broad and multi-faceted concept; Cultural-power dynamics as determinants of individual and community health; Human Rights and empowerment practice; the practice continuum from cultural competence to cultural equity; identity, culture, race and social constructionism; and the importance of reflective practice on one’s own cultural and professional identities. 15.00
2. Cultural Contexts I: Key parameters of Australian Aboriginal cultures including southwest Queensland Indigenous cultures; cultural connectedness and Indigenous Australian well-being; Historical and contemporary forms of colonisation and health impacts including experiences of south west Queensland Aboriginal peoples; legislative approaches to Indigenous Australians (from beginning of European settlement to present), including human rights; and the global context of health for Indigenous peoples. 25.00
3. Cultural Contexts II: Transcultural perspectives and community health; relevance of Human Rights and Multi-culturalism as approaches to working with culture as a determinant of health; health issues for immigrant and refugee populations; potential impacts of public policy and the media on public perceptions and workplace attitudes and behaviours; Intersectonality (of power dynamics)and multiple cultural minority statuses using disability as a specific example. 25.00
4. Applying Theory I: Cultural-Power dynamics, Ethics and Professional Practice; Ethics and health practice; use of organisational and professional power in practice contexts; research, ethics and Indigenous communities and use of reflective practice. 20.00
5. Applying Theory II: Context analysis – applying the empowerment matrix to a range of health and social well-being settings; analysis of power-culture dynamics active in a given scenario, including location of self as health professional; application of appropriate strategies ranging from cultural competence to cultural equity and use of Reflective Practice. 15.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Eckermann, A, Dowd, T, Chong, E, Nixon, L, Gray, R & Johnson, S 2010, Binan Goonj: Bridging Cultures in Aboriginal Health, 3rd edn, Churchill Livingstone, Sydney.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Copland, M., Richards, J., and Walker, A 2006, One Hour More Daylight. A historical Overview of Aboriginal Dispossession in Southern and South West Queensland, Social Justice Commission, Toowoomba.
  • Kemp, C. and Rasbridge, L 2004, Refugee and Immigrant Health. A Handbook for Health Professionals, Cambridge, Port Melbourne.
  • Purdie-Vaughns, V., and Eibach, R 2008, 'Sex Roles', Inter-sectional invisibility: The distinctive advantages and dis advantages of multiple subordinate group-identities, vol. 59, no. 5, pp. 377-391.
  • Smith, JD 2007, Australia’s rural and remote health: A social Justice perspective, 2nd edn, Tertiary Press, Victoria.
  • Vollman, A., Anderson, E., and McFarlane, J 2012, Canadian Community as Partner: Theory and Multi-disciplinary Practice, 3rd edn, Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, Sydney.
  • Williams, L 2005, 'Part two of Landscapes of Self-Determination', The Mental Health Promotion Practitioner as an Agent of Self-determination: Reflecting on Practice, Power, Culture and Equity.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 60.00
Directed Study 65.00
Private Study 40.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
WRITTEN ASSESSMENT 100 40 13 Apr 2015

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students’ responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted
    marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Not applicable.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner. In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a Show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next day. Students are to note on the assignment cover the date of the public holiday for the Examiner’s convenience.Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to USQ within 24 hours if required by the Examiner.

  2. In accordance with University Policy, the Examiner may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances.

  3. If electronic submission of assessments is specified for the course, students will be notified of this on the USQ Study Desk. All required electronic submission must be made through the Assignment Drop Box located on the USQ Study Desk for the course, unless directed otherwise by the examiner. The due date for an electronically submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.55pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  4. If the method of assessment submission is by written, typed or printed paper-based media students should (i) submit to the Faculty Office for students enrolled in the course in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail to the USQ for students enrolled in the course in the external mode. The due date for the assessment is the date by which a student must (i) submit the assessment for students enrolled in the on-campus mode, or (ii) mail the assessment for students enrolled in the external mode.

  5. The Faculty will NOT accept submission of assignments by facsimile.

  6. Students who do not have regular access to postal services for the submission of paper-based assessments, or regular access to Internet services for electronic submission, or are otherwise disadvantaged by these regulations may be given special consideration. They should contact the examiner of the course to negotiate such special arrangements prior to the submission date.

  7. Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in a course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of a course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded one of the temporary grades: IM (Incomplete - Make up), IS (Incomplete - Supplementary Examination) or ISM (Incomplete -Supplementary Examination and Make up). A temporary grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non-directed personal study.

  8. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  9. Students may be assigned an “Incomplete” grade to signify that all the requirements of the course have not yet been met. Students who are graded “I” can pass the course by successfully completing such additional work as prescribed by the examiner by a given date. Students who have been awarded an IM, ISM, IDM or IDB grade must access information regarding further work to be completed, in the Student Centre of U Connect. The Grades Page in the Student Centre contains information about further work to be completed. Students who have not completed the additional work to the satisfaction of the examiner by the given date will receive the appropriate Fail grade.

Other requirements

  1. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in the course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information
    literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect to achieve the same grades as those students who do possess them.

  2. This course should be completed during the student’s last year in the program.