Why is cultural literacy important?

Cultural literacy is important both to individuals and to the society they live in.

As an individual, your cultural literacy will help you to successfully interact with people from diverse backgrounds, including Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It helps you to develop a critical cultural perspective, especially if you are part of the 'dominant culture': instead of taking your own cultural beliefs and practices for granted and seeing them as 'normal', you can see them in the context of many cultures and evaluate their strengths and limitations (Flavell, Thackrah & Hoffman, 2013). Cultural literacy also helps you develop associated skills, such as communication and self-reflection (Flavell, Thackrah & Hoffman, 2013).

Cultural literacy contributes positively to the society in which you live. It

  • reduces prejudice and inequality based on culture,
  • increases the value placed on diversity, and
  • increases participation in the social practices of that society, including access to institutions and services (Anning, 2010).

For example, when culturally literate people have influence in institutions like universities or government agencies, they can ensure that people from all cultural backgrounds are able to participate equitably in education and services.


Anning, B. (2010). Embedding an Indigenous Graduate Attribute into University of Western Sydney's courses. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 39(Supplementary), 40-52. doi: 10.1375/S1326011100001125

Flavell, H., Thackrah, R., & Hoffman, J. (2013). Developing Indigenous Australian cultural competence: A model for implementing Indigenous content into curricula. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 4(1), 39-57. Retrieved from https://ojs.deakin.edu.au/index.php/jtlge/article/download/560/555