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Partnership offers support to CALD communities

District's COVID-19 support line welcomes Commonwealth Bank volunteers.

Women working at individual work stations with computers
SydneyConnect Image: CBA voluneers

Sydney Local Health District is celebrating a new partnership with the Commonwealth Bank, to further support the District’s culturally and linguistically diverse community get the information needed to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

About 300 bank staff are volunteering to help the District’s COVID-19 support line and can be contacted to assist callers who prefer speaking a language other than English.

“The COVID-19 Support Centre receives about 1700 calls from community members every day seeking information about vaccine eligibility, vaccination appointments and proof of vaccination.

“We estimate about 25 per cent of callers need in-language support to facilitate communication during phone conversations,” Mandy Burgess, a nurse manager overseeing the support line, said.

The District-run Sydney Health Care Interpreter Service (SHCIS), which has access to more than 315 interpreters who speak 84 different languages, already provides professional interpreting over the phone as needed. 

Now, under the collaboration with CBA, members of its multilingual workforce - who speak more than 40 different languages - are providing language support.

So far, the CBA volunteers have provided language support during more than 500 calls – in languages including Arabic, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean and Mandarin.

“Our District is very culturally and linguistically diverse, with more than 52 per cent of residents speaking a language other than English at home,” Dr Teresa Anderson, the District’s Chief Executive, said.

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked hard to ensure everyone in our community has access to information on vaccinations and access to booking, no matter which language they speak.

“We are very grateful to Commonwealth Bank for this wonderful support which has made life even easier for our non-English speaking community members,” Dr Anderson said.

Commonwealth Bank Group Executive, Human Resources, Sian Lewis, said: “As one of the largest employers in Australia, our people are committed to supporting the community when they need it most, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

“We are proud to have an incredibly diverse workforce with 45,000 employees across the country, many of whom are proficient in multiple languages and dialects.

“To date, we have already seen more than 300 employees volunteer, fluent in more than 40 languages, who have already assisted with over 500 calls.”

The COVID-19 support line operates between 8am and 9:30pm, seven days a week and can be contacted on 1800 955 566.