Issues Facing Migrant and CALD Communities

A report on the proffered papers session on day 3 of the Conference.

Today I would like to share some thoughts about the presentations relating to issues facing migrant and CALD communities. This included a numbers of sessions within this theme.

Gavin Prendergast from ACON shared his experience of developing community partnerships to deliver culturally safe and appropriate health messages to culturally and linguistically diverse groups. This demonstrated that done in the right way through partnerships we can reach very vulnerable and difficult to reach groups. This work takes time and a lot of ground work must be done to build trust and to find people from these groups who are enablers. Supporting and enabling these people is the essence to success to this work.

In Far North Queensland we have far fewer CALD community members compared to places like Sydney and Melbourne, and those living here tend to be transient. Nevertheless we do have CALD communities. Many are from Asia. There is also a trend to bring workers in from south sea islands like Vanuatu with short term working visas to work on farms in places such as Innisfail. Others come to the Far North on student visas. Some are migrants and have worries about using services, especially if they perceive a particular medical finding such as HIV might influence their residency application. They may have less knowledge about negotiating the health system, may have lower levels of health knowledge and may be Medicare ineligible. I started wondering how we are engaging these communities in our service and how well are we doing it.  This is something I would like to explore further on my return.

Wale Sabri spoke of the challenges of engaging international students and describes the process of working in partnership with an English language college. Much can be learnt from the process of community engagement he described.

Alison Coelho spoke of racism as a determinant of sexual health. Most of us know the many social determinants that impact on health status. Racism can determine health through both the structural and individual barriers it creates

Much of the principles that were talked about in these sessions are applicable in providing services  for both CALD and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. A guiding principle for successful service development being that there should not be services for a group without that group being involved. Health promotion programs and services need to be done in consultation with affected communities - not to or for them – in order to solve leaks from the cascade of care.

Author bio:

I am a clinical nurse with 30 years experience. I have over 10 years experience in sexual and reproductive health. I hold a Masters in Advanced Practice (sexual health).  I have extensive experience working in remote communities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Currently I work at Cairns Sexual Health. I wear two hats at Cairns Sexual health. I work as part of an outreach service team and additionally do some hours as Research Co-ordinator.