A breakdown of our cultural learning program

Published Sep 20, 2021, 7:00 AM
Written by Rachel Kelly

Interested in implementing your own Cultural Learning program but don't know where to start? Check out the final blog in our three part series which outlines the steps we took and the impact it had.


If you’re interested in implementing your own cultural program but you’re not sure how to tackle it, or how much to spend, here’s a breakdown of what we did last time and what we intend to do next time. 

We did some research to find out what other businesses like ours were doing in this area, but there wasn't much info out there. Either not much is happening, or people just aren’t sharing their programs. 

We were very fortunate to learn from one of our team members who were First Nations and had experience in these kinds of programs. He was also happy to share his culture and his thoughts with the team. 


Our approach

Our approach to developing the program involved the following steps, of course, we’ll refine our cultural learning program as we go however these steps acted as a good starting point. 

  1. Decide on a focus – using a human-centred approach by talking to staff, or using a list of topics we collected from staff previously
  2. Talk to staff to determine a plan for talking about this topic – perhaps they could recommend someone to give us information, or maybe they’d like to play an active part in presenting this topic
  3. Identify any other subject matter experts, or online resources and engage /pay for these
  4. Schedule the program
  5. Announce the event with a team meeting and negotiate the schedule
  6. Send out reading/watching information 
  7. Session/interview with any team member/s who have experience of this focus issue – that is, this is their culture – 45 min talk, 15 min Q&A
  8. Cross-cultural educator session 1/3 – 2 hours
  9. Cross-cultural educator session 2/3 – 2 hours
  10. Cross-cultural educator session 3/3 – 2 hours
  11. Final session, team talk – 1 hour 


Our budget  

We’ve budgeted to spend around $3,500.00 for this engagement and allowed significant time for each employee to take part in a program.


Program benefits

Yes, this program does take time and money. Yes, it brings up conversations that might be uncomfortable. But we know that there are several realities that would be pointless to ignore: our team is made up of people who come from different countries and cultures, and we all make different assumptions about almost everything.

We’re spending our time and money on this program to expand our minds and a) be better humans and b) write better code and make better user interfaces by questioning our assumptions, challenging each other’s biases and being curious about people who are very likely extremely different to us.


Changing perspectives

Hearing staff speak openly about how their perspectives had changed during the program was a powerful indicator of the program's impact.

To read more about these changed perspectives check out the following blog posts:

  • Here’s how one of our developers found his everyday travels and regular motorcycle rides outside Melbourne much more engaging once he knew more about the First Nations' people and the history of the area. Read Rob's Insight.

  • Another piece written by our QA Analyst, Sakina, describes how this program taught her new things about Australian history and also encouraged her to reflect on her own Indian heritage and how quickly cultural links can be lost. Read Sakina's Insight.


More information

For more information on the wonderful services offered by the Wurundjeri Council please check out their website here where you can make an enquiry through their online form.


Image credit Alvin Lenin on Unsplash  


Template Example - Cultural learning schedule

Symbiote Cultural Learning Program Schedule Example