As we move into December, it can be easy to slip into the routine of decorating, or getting swept up in the commercial hype of the season. Data from the 2016 Census [1] shows that Australia continues to grow as a culturally diverse nation, with differences across a magnitude of attributes such as gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion and sexual orientation.

Diversity in the workplace extends beyond being politically correct by saying ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings’ at this time of year. It is an opportunity to use this festive time, and other times throughout the year, as a chance to celebrate with your staff, clients and stakeholders by building an understanding and awareness of the traditions, values and beliefs of others.

To help get you started, here are some ideas our team has gathered together to support you with celebrating while incorporating diversity and inclusivity this festive season:

  • Give your staff an opportunity for input
    • When planning for celebrations, or decorating be sure to include your staff in the process. Ask for their ideas and opinions, and any insight they may have into those of your clients and stakeholders.
    • Offer a wide variety of alternatives for food and drinks, including non-alcoholic drinks, and ensure those with dietary requirements, for any reason, are catered for.
    • Allow your staff to opt out of holiday events, without a big fuss, judgment or repercussion.
  • Decorate with diversity in mind
    • Spread cheer with celebratory decorations such as tinsel, snowflakes, baubles, and lights, but avoid religious or commercialised iconography (nativity scenes, angels, menorahs, Saint Nicholas/Santa).
    • You may even like to think outside the box by choosing your own theme, such as an Australian tropical summer which could include palm trees, beach scenes, kookaburras and more!
  • Skip the carols
    • Even by early December, carols have been over-played in supermarkets, petrol stations and department stores for months and can become tedious. Opt for music genres that emulate fun, think summer vibes with the Beach Boys or Daddy Cool, or call back to a simpler time with big band tunes, or classics like Frank Sinatra and Etta James that still emulate that festive feeling.
  • Incorporate celebrating diversity and inclusivity year-round
    • Talk about cultural diversity in the workplace and appreciate other celebrations throughout the year to build stronger workplace relationships
    • Use a clinical audit tool to identify cultural and diverse groups in your population to help you better care for and support all your community members,
    • Appreciate and learn about other religious holidays and celebrations to ensure everyone in your team feels like their personal beliefs are valued.
    • Key religious dates include, but are not limited to:
      • Diwali, a Hindu holiday celebrated to honour Lakshmi, India’s goddess of prosperity.
      • Hanukka, a Jewish holiday held for eight days every November or December celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple.
      • Ramadan, one of the Five Pillars of Islam observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad.
      • Vaisakhi, a Punjabi holiday celebrating the Sikh New year and commemorating the year Sikhism was born as a collective faith.
      • Vesak, a Buddhist holiday celebrating Buddha’s birthday.
  • Hold meetings for the clinical team to discuss and identify the unique  needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA) patients or stakeholders.

While there are a number of ways you can celebrate at this time of year, particular activities or actions can also support you with demonstrating compliance with accreditation requirements outlined in the Royal Australian College General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards 5th edition.

In the RACGP Standards 5th edition, Criterion C2.1 – Respectful and culturally appropriate care, mandatory Indicator A specifies that ‘Our practice, in providing patient healthcare, considers patients’ rights, beliefs, and their religious and cultural backgrounds’.

“Respectful and culturally appropriate care is based on cultural awareness and sensitivity, which begins with learning about other cultures and cultural beliefs” (page 25, RACGP Standards 5th edition).

To meet Indicator C2.1 > A, you must demonstrate that you have considered patients’ rights, beliefs, and religious and cultural backgrounds when providing healthcare.

For a comprehensive overview of this Indicator and the relevant Standard download the RACGP Standards 5th edition at

If you have any queries, contact your AGPAL Client Liaison Officer on P: 1300 362 111 l  E:

In addition to the ideas covered above, below is a list of Australian resources to ensure you have a collection of reference points for creating a more inclusive and diverse practice/organisation: