05 June 2024

Research shows an individual in South Western Sydney is 2.6 times more likely to speak a language other than English, and 1.6 times more likely to be born in a country other than Australia, when compared to the rest of NSW. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics states culturally and linguistically diverse communities report significant disparities in their healthcare experience, including: lower levels of agreement in feeling understood and supported by health providers; not having sufficient information to manage their health; not receiving enough social support to manage their health; being less likely to have a regular GP; and being more likely to go to a hospital emergency department when they need after-hours medical care.  

The culturally diverse nature of South Western Sydney presents unique opportunities to collaborate with a wide range of people.  

Embracing these opportunities is a priority for South Western Sydney PHN, which is actively developing innovative projects and activities to improve healthcare access and outcomes for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities.

A co-creation project currently underway aims to identify healthcare gaps across the region and then develop recommendations which will guide the commissioning of future services. 

The first step in the process has been to consult with healthcare and service providers, and multicultural and refugee communities to better understand their health needs. 

Over the course of several months, SWSPHN project team members conducted 16 interviews with GPs, service providers and allied health professionals.

They also ran a series of focus groups with the Vietnamese, Arabic, Mandarin and refugee communities, as well as conducting two surveys for consumers and providers. 

Discussion focused on identifying the health needs and risk factors for multicultural and refugee communities, as well as the barriers to accessing healthcare.

Team members also sought to identify the opportunity and priority areas to improve health outcomes. 

Chronic disease, domestic violence, infectious disease, and sexual and reproductive health issues were identified as significant issues and the barriers to care included language difficulties and cost of services. 

Priority areas included the need for improved access and quality of care, resources to improve health literacy, support for health professionals to deliver culturally safe care and further research and consultation to understand the health and service needs.   

SWSPHN took the information gathered during the initial consultations to develop three new initiatives:  

  • service navigator, a service which seeks to put people from vulnerable communities in contact with healthcare services   
  • community chronic disease education sessions for multicultural communities 
  • trauma informed care and domestic violence training for health providers  

The next step in the process, the co-design of the service navigator, is currently underway. The codesign sessions give people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds an opportunity to give feedback on the proposed services.

Find out about participating in the codesign of the service navigator