Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Psychology


Australia is a country known for its multicultural population. The country has a broad range of visa schemes and a rapidly increasing overall intake of migrants. Australia thus provides a particularly rich case study of a migrant-receiving country undergoing rapid transformation. This diversity results in the need for mental health care systems and practitioners to adapt to a range of health and wellbeing needs of individuals and groups across cultural, linguistic, and ethnic backgrounds. This goal is challenged by the prevailing and overarching sociopolitical and ethnocultural construct of Whiteness, which is present in Australia, other Western nations and much of the world.

To both acknowledge and understand this construct, and its consequences, within the context of mental health and wellbeing, this thesis examined the ways in which mental health practitioners in Australia construe non-White people. The research also sought to ascertain the links between practitioners’ construals of Whiteness and their cultural competence as well as their therapeutic alliance with non-White clients. This research is important as it helps to expose the modes by which Whiteness may influence construing and may provide more clarity on how Whiteness, its invisibility and processes work in the context of mental health care.

FoR codes (2020)

4410 Sociology, 4702 Cultural studies, 5203 Clinical and health psychology, 5205 Social and personality psychology



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.