When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Australia, it was these needs which sat front and centre of our minds.
With many groups and organisations across the country mobilising quickly with their own responses, we looked at what gaps there were across the healthcare sector to find out where, who and how could we help?
In discussions with both hospitals and community health care, it became clear we needed to reach the most vulnerable people within our culturally and linguistically diverse communities with a message they could understand and act upon.
Having worked extensively in this area before, we knew that non-English speakers with chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, represented the most ‘at risk’ members of the communities we serve.
Due to language barriers, there were vast numbers of families and individuals across the Sydney Basin who were missing out on vital information about how they should combat the virus and manage their general health and wellbeing.
In response to this challenge, SPHERE joined forces with the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service in consultation with NSW Health to create a series of 43 fact sheets containing medical advice and instructions covering Arthritis, Asthma, Cardiovascular Health, Diabetes and Stroke. With content development overseen by some of SPHERE’s Clinical Academic Groups, the fact sheets were then written in easy-to-understand English and translated into Arabic, Chinese, (Simplified and Traditional), Greek, Italian and Vietnamese. Subsequently, in response to a number of requests, we added translations for Samoan, Tongan and Tamil communities.
According to Ainslie Cahill, Leader – Consumer and Community Involvement and Engagement, who managed the project, collaboration has been key in bringing this idea to life. “This was a team effort with a number of stakeholders, including the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, South Western Sydney Local Health District and NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service in collaboration with NSW Health helping verify the communities within SPHERE’s catchment area who were of must need and who, mostly, did not speak English at home.”
Available for download on the links below, the fact sheets can be given by health workers and medical practitioners working right across the Sydney Basin, and directly into the hands of the people they were created for.
While New South Wales and Australia continue to manage and respond to the impact of the pandemic, the fact sheets will help remind people of the importance of managing their chronic condition while also following safe practices to avoid contracting the virus.
Making projects like this happen are the reason we exist. Being able to see the bigger picture while, at the same time, understanding the individual needs of those within our communities, is what Maridulu Budyari Gumal SPHERE is all about.
For more information on the fact sheets, please contact
Leader – Consumer and Community Involvement and Engagement