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COVID-19 Vaccination Program Leaders' Forum

District collaborates with diverse communities about COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Three people sitting around a desk
SydneyConnect Image: Professor Ian Caterson, Dr Teresa Anderson and Barbara Luisi

Sydney Local Health District has held an online forum with key leaders from its culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program.

"We've worked together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community and to keep each other safe. Now, we're taking the next step in our response," Dr Teresa Anderson, the District's Chief Executive, told a COVID-19 Vaccination Program Leaders Forum.

Data shows 44 per cent of residents living in the District were born overseas. About 145 languages are spoken in the local community with 55 per cent of the population speaking a non-English language at home.

The Forum provided an opportunity for leaders from the District's established and emerging CALD communities to ask questions and raise issues relevant to their communities about the vaccination program.

Leaders from Arabic speaking, Bangladeshi, Chinese-speaking, Greek, Italian, Korean, Mongolian, Nepalese and Vietnamese communities, participated in the Forum.

"We are committed to providing accurate, timely in-language information which will help our communities make informed decisions about the vaccine," Professor Ian Caterson, the Medical Director of the District's COVID-19 Vaccination Centre at RPA, said.

The Centre opened in February, along with another at Sydney Airport, to vaccinate frontline health care workers, border and quarantine staff during the first phase of the vaccine rollout.

More than 100,000 frontline workers and health care staff across NSW have come forward to have their first and then their second dose of the vaccine.

Now, a phased rollout of the vaccine to other priority groups in the community is underway.

The Director of the District's Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub Barbara Luisi and her team have developed a COVID-19 communications plan about the COVID-19 vaccination rollout for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

"CALD communities face a number of challenges to optimal health care, including language barriers, limited understanding of the Australian health care system and differing cultural attitudes and beliefs towards health.

"These challenges will influence their experiences of health, and the uptake of prevention and treatment strategies - including the COVID-19 vaccine," Ms Luisi said.

The District will share its messages via traditional ethnic media, digital and social media and educational sessions, similar to the Forum. Community leaders will have a significant role.

"We appreciate the role community leaders can play in helping to reassure the community that the vaccine is safe and effective," Dr Anderson said.

"If we can get all of our community vaccinated it will make a huge difference in getting us back to a more normal life and to be back to doing all of the things we like to do," she said.