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District develops plan to aid delivery of health care to diverse communities

Multicultural Leaders Forum

December 2019

District develops plan to aid delivery of health care to diverse communities

District develops plan to aid delivery of health care to diverse communities

Sydney Local Health District is developing its first district-wide plan to guide the delivery of quality health care to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

“Health and wellbeing is everybody’s business,” Costa Georgiadis, who delivered the keynote address at the District’s annual Multicultural Leaders Forum, said.

“Whether you’ve arrived in Australia recently or like myself, whether it was your grandparents, either way, ‘Why do we come together as a community?’ We come together to look after each other,” the second-generation Greek-Australian landscape architect and TV host, said.

Sydney Local Health District covers one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas in New South Wales – about 44 per cent of people were born overseas and 55 per cent speak a language other than English at home.

The Forum was an opportunity to collaborate with more than 60 multicultural community leaders with the goal of improving the health of CALD communities in the District.

Leaders from some of the District’s more established Greek, Italian, Chinese and Arabic-speaking communities joined others from emerging communities, such as the Rohingya, Bangladeshi and Nepalese, at the Forum.

They discussed health issues confronting their communities, their priorities, and ways the District can help.

“There are so many health priorities. I don’t know where to begin. We need to debunk certain myths but at the same time, the system needs to understand different communities, not just the Arab community,” Randa Kattan, the Chief Executive of the Arab Council Australia, said.

“There’s a need for more action in the community. But communities tend to not worry about health until they have to. At the same time, we need to create more engagement… creating greater awareness… about cancer, diabetes, Hep C and Hep B,” she said.

For others, it’s about improving their community’s access to health care.

“I would like to improve their health literacy so they can access the health system in Australia,” Ernest Yung from the Chinese Australian Services Society said

For Bangladeshi community leader Arjina Akter it’s about making people feel comfortable.

“Language barriers are common. My community is kind of shy. They don’t easily open up. So, if they go somewhere and they are comfortable… it will be more helpful for them to get better health,” she said.

Mental health is also seen as important.

“We are focussing on mental health because of the cultural differences. This is our first priority because good health is the most important thing for human beings,” Shamser Thapa, a Nepalese community leader, said.

While there was also a focus on older people.

“The health of our seniors. Those 60 years and above. It’s very important because these are the people who gave us the wisdom and so it’s very important for them to maintain their health,” Serna Ladia, a Filipino community leader, said.

Consultations from the District’s facilities and services, community organisations, local councils and NGOs will help the District shape a five-year strategic plan for CALD communities.

“This will be the District’s first formalised plan for working with cultural and linguistic diverse communities,” Lou- Anne Blunden, the District’s Executive Director, Clinical Services Integration and Population Health, said.

The plan will support the District to be responsive and adaptive to changing CALD population demographics, health issues and service utilisation.

“Our health service is striving to be better at working with our communities. To support people in them to have better health. To nurture strong community networks, to recognise the important role of family in health and to work together to find new approaches to help us to deliver excellent health care,” she said.

The plan is expected to be launched in 2020.

To view images of the Forum, please click here. Or to see a video of highlights, please click here.

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