more interpreters only part of the solution to improving health care for older victorians from culturally diverse backgrounds

Released on 31st January 2022

cohealth will today appear at the hearing for the Inquiry into Support for Older People from Migrant and Refugee Backgrounds which is examining ways to improve access to health services for older Victorians from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds. 

In its submission to the Inquiry cohealth says insufficient interpreters and lengthy wait times for interpreters can lead to people delaying or not accessing the services they need to maintain their health and wellbeing, citing the example of a client from a CALD background who stopped getting vital health tests because they mistakenly believed a new fee had been introduced for the test. 

However, although one of cohealth’s key recommendations calls for Victorian Government to increase investment in interpreting and translating services for older people, cohealth says this is only the start. 

Acting Chief Executive, Christopher Turner, says cohealth is calling on the Victorian Government to develop a workforce plan to increase bi-cultural and bilingual workers in services that support older people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. 

“Removing barriers to participation, such as having clear information so people can take part in conversations about health and other supports is critical for their health and wellbeing,” said Acting Chief Executive, Christopher Turner. 

“While interpreter services and translated material are vital resources, ideally services would employ bi-cultural and bilingual workers who reflect the local communities and speak relevant languages,” said Mr Turner. 

Mr Turner said that many of the lessons learned during the pandemic could be applied to improving service access for older Victorians from CALD communities. 

Throughout the pandemic we have seen the importance of providing information in community languages, including in non-written formats, engaging community leaders and building on existing community strengths,” he said. 

“As the pandemic progressed communities and bicultural workers developed creative methods to ensure vital information reached communities in culturally relevant ways such as videos and community meetings. Through these means information reached people who might otherwise miss out on it.” 

“We want to see significantly more investment in roles that assist older people from migrant and refugee backgrounds find and access health and social support services.” 

cohealth’s submission also recommends that existing health and aged care providers  improve their understanding of diverse cultural beliefs and responses to ageing and the care of elders, through further training and professional development of the workforce. 

The Committee is due to report on the findings of the Inquiry 30 June 2022. 

— Ends — 

More on cohealth: 

cohealth is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all.  cohealth provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical, oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services. 

more information:  Lanie Harris 0418 552 377 


Select a location and book online

Book Online Book Online Book Online Book Online Book Online Book Online Book Online