Australia needs to close immigration health care gap

Multicultural Health Communities advocate for providing care and voice to culturally and linguistically diverse populations. Many of them are not eligible for Medicare because of their visas.

Now run by the Australian Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils, the national initiative focuses on the medical needs of a growing population of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

For many of them, their needs are not being met, said Mohammad Al-Khafazi, the federation’s chief executive and co-chairman.

Communities that provide leadership and advocacy on policy, research and practice hope to improve equity and achieve better health outcomes. In the future, we will seek federal and philanthropic funding.

A World Health Organization report found that migration and displacement often lead to worsening health conditions. As a result, levels of access to education, income, housing and services are declining, compounded by language, cultural and legal barriers, the report notes.

Australia’s challenges in providing healthcare to multicultural groups have been exposed by COVID-19, exposing a lack of data, interpretation and accurate translation for those without English proficiency.

The pandemic “has put a strong spotlight on and exacerbated the health inequalities already experienced by[these]communities in Australia, including those related to mental health, aged care and disability,” the joint study said. said the person.

Among its goals, it advocates improved language services, interpretation, culturally relevant health information, and data collection and reporting.

Translating health information was not enough.

“It’s a matter of access to that information and how it is consumed and understood,” Al-Khafazi said.

He added that many medical professionals still do not use qualified professional interpreters to convey sensitive health information to their patients.

For example, in a NSW study of cancer diagnoses, some cases were either not translated completely or not at all because interpreters determined it was inappropriate to convey terminally ill diagnoses. became clear.

“There are many sensitive health issues, such as the end of life and childbirth, that must be communicated in a culturally safe and appropriate manner,” Al-Khafazi said.

“Without collecting adequate data on cultural origins, it is difficult to ensure that health policies and services are inclusive. leads to.”

Health, including disease onset and outcome, and health risk factors and determinants are clearly patterned by ethnicity internationally, but Australian data are seriously lacking in this area, the federation said. I’m here.

“The aim of the community is to address the health inequalities faced by many refugee and immigrant communities by advocating for systemic change to ensure that the needs of our communities are met. ”

This collaboration is membership-based and includes consumers, health and human services, practitioners and researchers. It may partner with health-related academic research institutions in other countries and include departments of state governments related to multicultural health.

It also addresses the underlying inequalities and systemic racism in the healthcare system, a key factor in inequality.

“I came to Australia as a refugee with my family almost 20 years ago and learned a lot about what racism is like and how it prevents people from accessing government services, especially health services. I know there are,” Al-Kafazi said.

Links to relevant projects, reports, and research findings on health and well-being issues are posted on our web-based knowledge hub.

According to the ABS 2021 Census, nearly half of Australia’s population has parents born abroad and 27.6% report their place of birth abroad.

The number of people using a language other than English at home has increased by nearly 800,000 since 2016 to more than 5.5 million, with 850,000 reporting not speaking English well or at all. increase.

The Federation notes that a significant number of people who may have been born in Australia, are proficient in English, and who may continue to identify strongly with a particular cultural or religious group are excluded from the data for this sector. I point out that there are many



Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.