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Health Care Is Important In All Languages

Health is a fundamental human right

The United Nations says health is a fundamental human right, but imagine not being able to access the care you or your family needs because of cultural barriers.

This exact scenario happens here in our community very often.

To support our culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) community to access health services and care, when and how they need it, GSF has partnered with community-focussed groups to support 12 women from eight ethnic backgrounds into training as Community Health Educators (CHE) to address the poor health literacy in their wider communities.

The goal is to train the CHEs to deliver, in their first language, health education and pathways to health services to women and families who struggle to navigate the western health system, and in many instances refrain from seeking critical medical help.

The positive impact of this approach was particularly highlighted and evident throughout the COVID pandemic. The CHE program has been lauded by professional services as a valuable place-based response to improving access by non-English speaking communities to our western medical services and health agencies.

Since 2021 the CHE’s have been instrumental in our local response during COVID,

providing and delivering reliable, accurate and real time COVID information to culturally and linguistically diverse women and their families.

Most recently the original 12 CHE’s along with eight other bilingual women have undertaken intensive accredited Mental Health and Trauma training, after they identified these conditions as most prevalent in their communities.

Many with refugee experience have suffered trauma, conflict, family separation and significant human rights violations, including torture and physical and sexual violence. Settling in Australia can also trigger multiple stressors such as: navigating life in a new country, language barriers, housing and financial instability, difficulty accessing employment, changes in family roles, visa status, and loss of community, country and cultural connections.

GSF has partnered with the Upotipotpon Foundation to deliver a third grant of $30,000 to facilitate the recent accredited training which will target:

  • how new communities struggle to understand ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’ in the way it is talked about in the Australian community

  • community members who would not seek help for mental health challenges they or family members may be experiencing

  • how this resistance to seeking help relates to cultural understanding of mental illness within the different cultural groups.

The CHE’s are positively impacting many families’ lives, they have saved lives and are keeping our whole community safe. The most recent training will be completed by the end of this year.

We believe that this health program is ground-breaking in bridging the gap in our region between our first world health services and refugee and new arrival communities who face multiple barriers to accessing the services.

With such successes to date, we will use program evaluation to advocate for long-term, sustainable financial support for this valuable place-based community program that provides equal access to health information and services.

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