Various factors must be considered when offering a student placement in culturally diverse health settings. The Preparing for a Clinical Education placement section of this website outlines considerations for offering student placements for the first time, as well as providing a pre placement planning checklist that outlines necessary communications with university partners, your workplace and students.

Many allied health programs integrate information on working with culturally diverse groups into their curricula. Some programs also ensure students have ‘cultural awareness training’ prior to commencing placements. Supervisors should contact universities to establish the type and level of education provided to students in preparation for their placement.

Supervisors offering placements in culturally diverse health settings should be mindful that some students will be entering a culture and/or community that differs from their own and will have varying awareness of the health needs of the groups they are working with.

Prior to placement

Student supervisors need to consider:

  • How they will facilitate student learning about the health needs and histories of the people and communities they will be working with. 
    • Will resources need to be developed and provided to students prior to the placement?
  • How they (as supervisors), will support students to establish and maintain relationships and trust with clients and the community.
  • How they will facilitate the development of entry-level profession-specific skills and plan for a case load that will allow students to demonstrate competency, while also supporting students to adapt the care they provide to their clients..
  • How they will ensure that students develop cultural awareness and culturally appropriate communication.
  • How they will manage student attitudes and values if they affect the care provided to clients.
  • Is culturally responsive/cultural awareness training provided to staff within the service and can this be delivered to/accessed by the students as part of their orientation?
  • Which placement model is the most appropriate for the setting and the clients?
  • What supports are required if the placement setting is in a rural or remote location.

As placement commences

Student supervisors need to support students to reflect on their own perceived biases/ privilege and how these biases affect the care they deliver:

  • Talking about race, privilege and bias is complex and can be uncomfortable.  It can be difficult for a student to acknowledge bias and manage it, along with the pressures of being on placement.  Supervisors must be prepared to have potentially uncomfortable conversations about race and privilege with students prior to or early in the placement, to ensure that students provide high quality evidence-based care.  Resources that support supervisors to commence these conversations include:
    • 'Let’s talk race:  A guide on how to conduct conversations about racism (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2019)
    • What is white privilege? An overview | Racism No Way
  • It is important for supervisors to acknowledge these conversations can be difficult and elicit strong thoughts or emotions in students. This is common and is experienced by others including the clients that students are managing.  Supervisors might like to:
  1. Start by defining what race and privilege looks like in Australia and who is considered ‘privileged’. Supervisors could ask the students whether they considered themselves privileged or not and share their (supervisor) own self-assessment.
  2. Students could complete a self-assessment tool on race, privilege, and bias, and these results could be a conversation starter.  Supervisors could ask the students to consider their journey at university by considering :
    1. How they identify themselves, and whether this identity has historically experienced bias, stigma, or privilege.
    2. If their identity has ever led to stress.
    3. How often they think about their identity.
    4. The last time they had to think or speak about their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and what led to this.
    5. If they have felt rejection from their peers as they have different world views, customs or practices.
    6. If they have felt excluded because there are no professional role models or mentors who are ‘like them’.
    7. If they have attended lectures or university networking events where the majority of those attending are of a different race, gender, ethnicity or religion.
    8. How often they have participated in learning activities that reflected and affirmed their own cultural background.
    9. If they have felt like they have needed to advocate for their gender, race, ethnicity or be a ‘token’ representative.
    10. What it would be like to be in a community that is different from the neighbourhood they grew up in.
    11. If they have ever felt that sharing their opinions will make them feel like an ‘outsider’, be outnumbered, unheard or feared.
  3. Supervisors should advise students that they should not feel guilty about their race or privilege.  Instead, ask them to consider how they can use their privilege to challenge the status quo.

Example:  Stepwise process involving the student and supervisor

Stepwise process involvling student and supervisor


Please Note: References remain valid until superseded by later research. The resources referenced here are regularly reviewed and are considered current and relevant to the topics presented.

  • University of the Sunshine Coast Australia (nd) Race power and privilege.  Accessed December 2023 from: Race, power and privilege | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia (
  • National Association of School Psychologists (nd) Understanding Race and Privilege. Accessed December 2023 from: Understanding Race and Privilege (
  • Psychology today (2020) Check your privilege:  An important self-assessment.  Accessed December 2023 from: Check Your Privilege: An Important Self-Assessment | Psychology Today
  • Loyola Marymount University (nd)  Strategies for reduce implicit bias.  Accessed December 2023 from: Strategies to Reduce Implicit Bias - Loyola Marymount University (
  • Millward, C (2022) An open letter to non-Indigenous people who work in Indigenous affairs – IndigenousX
  • Learning and using traditional language plays an important role in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s sense of identity and wellbeing Languages alive | AIATSIS


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