Welcome back to everyone after the September school holiday break. We hope many of you feel refreshed and revitalized as we head towards the end of this long year.

We kicked off our return to ‘’business as unusual’’ this week by hosting an important conversation with more than 40 people: Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and non-CALD consumers, NGOs representing the interests of CALD consumers including World Wellness Group and the Refugee Health Network, and staff from Queensland Health’s Disability and Multicultural Health Unit, the Social Policy Unit, the Statewide Lead for COVID-19 for Aged Care and Disability and the Strategic Communications Branch.

Since April 2020, the Department and stakeholders representing CALD communities in Queensland have been working together to develop policy and action plans for a COVID-19 response that meets the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse people. Throughout this time, Health Consumers Queensland has also been listening to culturally diverse consumers who have shared their experiences of accessing health care during the pandemic and expressed their concerns and views about what is still missing the mark.

The conversation offered a rare moment for all of us to come together to reflect upon the opportunities and improvements in access or delivery of health care for CALD consumers which have been developed during COVID, explore the barriers and challenges –  and collectively ask ourselves how can we keep doing this better.

Some of the learnings from the conversation included:

  • Finding a way for Queensland Health to hear the voices and lived experiences of every day CALD consumers as well as listening to stakeholder representatives. One consumer described this as: “a task group of consumers focused on multicultural health experiences to address barriers and improve care informed by lived experience.”
  • Continuing to build a bridge to create a two-way conversation between Queensland Health and consumers “because we are all learning through that.”
  • Addressing the impact of isolation on people’s mental health and wellbeing. “People from collectivist cultures deal with disasters together rather than going away from each other as with COVID.”
  • Recognising that community organisations have stepped in to fill the gaps but in providing this support and care, vulnerable groups have become invisible to the public health system.
  • Better training in anatomical and clinical terminology for interpreters and translators.
  • Addressing the fact that telehealth has not worked for many CALD consumers and the digital divide has increased.
  • Improving state-wide safeguards and access to public health care for particularly vulnerable CALD consumers including international students and people with a temporary or bridging visa status.
  • Routinely involving bi-cultural workers in the health care of CALD consumers.

You can read the full summary of this conversation on our issues paper web page.

This paper will be shared with all the consumers, Queensland Health staff and NGOs who attended the conversation as well as the Director-General and all the Deputy Director-Generals of Queensland Health, the Office of the Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, and the Chief Executives of each Hospital and Health Service.

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