Multicultural and refugee health

South Western Sydney communities are culturally and linguistically diverse. The region is characterised by its diversity which is highlighted in the findings from the 2011 census. Some of the key cultural aspects include:

  • South Western Sydney has a much higher proportion of residents born overseas with 36 per cent of residents born overseas compared to just 26 per cent for NSW.
    • Significant differences occur between areas with 53 per cent of people in Fairfield born in another country, while less than 16 per cent in Camden, 12 per cent in Wollondilly and 15 per cent in Wingecarribee LGAs were born overseas.
  • In Fairfield LGA, 74 per cent of residents (131,162 people) speak a language other than English (LOTE) at home. In Bankstown, Liverpool, and Campbelltown LGA’s 60 per cent, 55 per cent and 30 per cent of the populations respectively speak a language other than English at home, whereas in Wollondilly and Wingecarribee the figure is less than 10 per cent.
     
  • Arabic is the most commonly spoken language other than English (over 74,000 people) followed by Vietnamese (over 61,000 people) and Cantonese (over 19,000 people).
    • 40 per cent of Arabic speaking people in NSW reside in South Western Sydney.
       
  • English language proficiency varies between the LGA’s with 17.4 per cent of Fairfield residents and 8.7 per cent of Bankstown residents reporting they “speak English not well or not at all”
     
  • Pacific communities are a large and growing group in the region, with a large Samoan community in Campbelltown (two per cent compared with 0.2 per cent for NSW).

With such a culturally diverse population brings a range of health challenges and priorities, which vary between communities.

Jump to:

Health Priorities for local communities

CALD Specific Health Issues

What’s being done to address these issues?

CALD specific services

CALD specific resources

Who are refugees?

Settlement Service International

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Refugee Health

HEALTH PRIORITIES FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES

What are the issues?

Obesity rates in the South Western Sydney area are slightly above the NSW average and the rates overall represent a significant health problem. Across the region 21.8 per cent of the population is classified as obese based on their reported height and weight. This can be linked to lifestyle factors including:

  • Less than half the population having an adequate level of physical activity (47.8 per cent)  
  • Just over half (54.9 per cent) of the population are reaching the recommended daily fruit intake of two serves per day.
  • Only seven per cent of residents achieving the recommended daily vegetable intake of five serves per day.

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death and accounts for a large proportion of hospitalisations in SWS. Rates of cardiovascular disease were particularly high in Campbelltown.

Diabetes prevalence increases with age and socioeconomic disadvantage and is more prevalent in men, Aboriginal people and those from a Mediterranean background. The Atlas of Diabetes Prevalence by LGA indicates  the total number of people living with type 2 diabetes increased by 158 per cent in 2000-2011, from 20,594 to 53,132 people. The death rate and hospitalisation due to diabetes and its complications was higher than the state average and was particularly high in Fairfield.

Hepatitis B and C: The region has the second highest number of new cases of Hepatitis B in NSW, with cases particularly high in Fairfield and Bankstown. It also has the fourth highest number of cases of Hepatitis C.

Smoking: The 2011 census revealed that 19.2 per cent of the population smoke in South Western Sydney, with 5017 smoking related hospitalisations in 2011.

 

Specific health issues in CALD communities

Across NSW, people from CALD communities generally have a better health profile than the Australian born population. This has been explained by the ‘healthy migrant effect’, with health requirements and eligibility criteria ensuring that generally only those in good health migrate to Australia. The NSW Chief Health Officer’s Report 2010 highlighted some notable statistics of relevance to the main communities residing in this region which indicated higher health risks for specific populations, including:

Smoking: People from Lebanon are more likely to self-report that they smoke
Overweight/obese: Lebanon males & females from areas such as Italy, Greece and Lebanon
Diabetes: Notably people from Lebanon, Greece, Italy and Germany
Coronary heart disease and cardiac revascularization procedures: Lebanon, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Fiji
Tuberculosis: People from Vietnam, India, China and Hong Kong have higher rates of tuberculosis
Late presentation to antenatal services: mothers born in Lebanon, New Zealand, Fiji, Iraq, Pakistan, Korea, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Low or limited Health Literacy is also an issue faced by the CALD population – that is their ability to gain access to, understand and use health information to maintain and/or improve their health. People from CALD communities often have low levels of health literacy which can lead to overall poorer health outcomes and impacts on:

  • Access to and use of health care: knowledge and understanding of health services, missing appointments and not following treatment plan as a result
  • Patient–provider communication: understanding the information/education provided, ability to ask questions and engage in decisions
  • Self–care: self-managing chronic conditions, adhering to treatment including medications.

For more detailed information on the health issues for specific CALD communities, the Multicultural Health Communication Service has developed detailed community profiles for specific CALD populations 

 

What can be done to address these issues?

Overall, the South Western Sydney population identify the major health problems in their community as obesity and overweight, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, mental health issues, aged care related issues, drug addictions, smoking and alcohol consumption. A number of these health conditions and behaviours can be improved by changes in lifestyle.

Having an inactive lifestyle, high accessibility to convenience foods and not being able to afford healthy foods and exercise are significant concerns, as are language barriers and lack of knowledge on healthy eating, which all contribute to these problems.

Programs such as the Get Healthy service have interpreter services that support access for the wider community, and Diabetes NSW run language specific sessions which provide the knowledge and tools to support these communities in adopting healthier lifestyles. S

 

CALD Services

There is a large presence of targeted health services for the CALD community in the South Western Sydney. SWSPHN partners with many of these services to deliver initiatives aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of the CALD population:

South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) Population Health Service 

Immigrant Women’s Health Services works to address numerous issues affecting immigrant and refugee women including physical health and wellbeing, mental health and trauma, legal rights and justice, housing, welfare and entitlements, education and training, language and literacy, social inclusion, healthy parenting and drug and alcohol issues

NSW Refugee Health Programs provides a range of services aimed to protect and promote the health of refugees living in NSW:

NSW Refugee Health Service provide specific programs to meet the needs of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and refugees

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) provides access to phone and on-site interpreting services in over 160 languages and dialects

NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service (MHCS) provides information about health issues and health services to people who speak languages other than English

NSW Multilingual Quitline provides free, confidential and individually-tailored service telephone advice to assist smokers in the quitting process. The Multilingual Quitlines are managed by Quitline NSW in partnership with the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service and funded by the Cancer Institute NSW

 

Resources:

For more information on health, diet and nutrition, exercise, and quitting smoking visit: Multicultural Health Communication service

NSW Health Get Health Information and Coaching service: Offers free and confidential telephone-based advice from qualified health professionals on healthy eating, physical activity and achieving and maintain a healthy weight.

Website: http://www.gethealthynsw.com.au/program | Telephone: 1300 806 258

NSW Multilingual Quitline provides free, confidential and individually-tailored service telephone advice to assist smokers in the quitting process. The Multilingual Quitline is managed by Quitline NSW in partnership with the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service and funded by  the Cancer Institute NSW

South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) Population Health Service 

Immigrant Women’s Health Services works to address numerous issues affecting immigrant and refugee women including physical health and wellbeing, mental health and trauma, legal rights and justice, housing, welfare and entitlements, education and training, language and literacy, social inclusion, healthy parenting and drug and alcohol issues

NSW Refugee Health Programs provides a range of services aimed to protect and promote the health of refugees living in NSW:

NSW Refugee Health Service provide specific programs to meet the needs of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and refugees

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) provides access to phone and on-site interpreting services in over 160 languages and dialects.

 

Who are refugees?

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees defines a refugee as:

“A person who is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail him or herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution” UNHCR, 1951, p.3.

 

Settlement Service International

Settlement Services International (SSI) is a leading community-based not-for-profit organisation that provides a range of services in the areas of refugee settlementasylum seeker assistancehousingmulticultural foster caredisability support and employment services in NSW.

SSI is committed to ensuring that people in vulnerable communities in NSW are supported and resourced to fulfill their potential as members of the Australian community.

Contact Settlement Services

 

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people.

Since 1950, the agency has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives. Today, a staff of more than 9,300 people in 123 countries continues to help and protect millions of refugees, returnees, internally displaced and stateless people.

Resources:
Australian Refugee Data 

 

Refugee Health

The NSW Refugee Health Service was set up by the NSW Department of Health in 1999 to help meet some of these challenges. We aim to promote the health of people from a refugee background living in NSW by assisting refugees, and the health professionals who work with them. Services provided include:

  • early health assessments by refugee health nurses for newly arrived refugees
  • education for health service providers on refugee health and related issues;
  • a link between agencies working with refugees and health services;
  • targeted health promotion programs for refugees
  • medical assessments and referrals through GP clinics, particularly for recent arrivals;
  • research in refugee health; and
  • advocation for health policies and appropriate services for refugees.

General Resources

Nurition
Factsheets
Information in other languages 
Refugee health networks 

Refugee e-News

Current issue
Archive

Oral health
Useful links

GP Resources 

Clinical guildlines
Clinical: Refugee Health nurse program 
Clinical: Immunisation 
Information in other languages 
Using interpreters 
Training and support
Resource and publications 
Recommended readings 
RHS guides
Useful links

1/157-161 George St, Liverpool NSW 2170

Phone: (02) 8778 0770

Refugee Council of Australia 

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is the national umbrella body for refugees and the organisations and individuals who support them. It has more than 200 organisational and over 900 individual members.

Formed in November 1981, RCOA is a non-profit, non-government organisation registered as an incorporated association in the Australian Capital Territory. It is funded through contributions from its members and by project grants from philanthropic bodies and government agencies. The priority activities for RCOA are set by its members, as represented by an elected Board.

Factsheets
Resource