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Multicultural Health Communication Awards finalist

District's COVID response for CALD communities nominated for an award. 

Group of people sitting in front of a wall with Aboriginal Artwork
SydneyConnect Image: Staff from the District's Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub and the Sydney Health Care Interpreter Service

A partnership which supported culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities during Sydney Local Health District's response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been recognised, with a nomination in the Multicultural Health Communication Awards 2022.

The District's Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub and Sydney Health Care Interpreter Service led the collaboration to ensure culturally relevant, trusted and accessible services were provided for CALD communities.

"Early in the pandemic we recognised the challenges our CALD communities would face, and created partnerships to enable a community informed, led and delivered response," Barbara Luisi, the Director of the Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub, said.

"This became particularly important during the Local Government Area lockdowns and vaccine program roll-out," she said.

The community organisations involved included the Arab Council Australia, Bangladeshi Association of NSW, Burmese Rohingya Community Association, Chinese Australian Service Society, Lebanese Muslim Association, Muslim Women Australia and the Nepalese Australian Online Forum.

The District worked with them to conduct targeted CALD community outreach, produce in-language communications and establish community trusted locations and models for COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics.

"We embedded language support and system navigation across the whole COVID response – providing in-language welfare calls, contact tracing, and supporting isolation, quarantine, and the vaccination patient journey, from booking an appointment to evidence of vaccination status," Barbara said.

During the COVID-19 response, Sydney Health Care Interpreter Service's occasions of service increased by 44 per cent, with interpreters available daily on-site at the NSW Health Vaccination Centre at Sydney Olympic Park and at pop-up vaccination clinics.

"We developed a system to connect staff and interpreters for telephone interpreting, with the ability to access and connect interpreters in less than 30 seconds without adding any extra pressure on the very busy service centre," Vesna Dragoje, the Service's Director, said.

The integrated approach achieved strong COVID-19 vaccination rates in priority CALD communities across the District, with bilingual staff providing interpreting for more than 66,000 people receiving their vaccine at pop-up vaccination clinics.

A communications strategy resulted in more than 1500 multilingual resources across 30 languages being produced, and more than 7000 multilingual messages being published or broadcast, to provide accurate and timely in-language information to CALD communities.

"The outcomes achieved underscore the importance of working together to ensure the services we deliver are accessible and meet the healthcare needs of our CALD communities," Dr Teresa Anderson, the District's Chief Executive, said.

"The partnership, led by the Diversity Programs and Strategy Hub and Sydney Health Care Interpreter Service, has helped to keep our CALD communities safe throughout the pandemic," Dr Anderson said.

The Multicultural Health Communication Awards recognise excellence in multicultural health communication across NSW Health. The District is one of three finalists in the Pandemic Response category, with the winners to be announced in November.