Bilingual and culturally relevant education key to improving migrant health

Published by MAXSolutions on August 24, 2023
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Australia is a country with great healthcare standards. For many people new to Australia, understanding and accessing those services isn’t necessarily a given.

For many female Afghani students at our SEE classes in Melbourne, they have not had the opportunity to undertake much of any formal education or gain access to important information about their health.

Many have literacy barriers in their language of origin and do not have the English language skills for day to day life. They experience a range of challenges due to cultural factors, isolation, or the unavailability of services in their language.

That is why targeted, and relevant supports are necessary to achieve the educational outcomes of the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program and these supports look different in each classroom.

By partnering with the right organisations we can expand the value of the SEE program to our students and deliver better outcomes for them.

One of these partnerships is with the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) program  led by Amira Rahmanovic.

The MCWH program delivers a range of health topics presented by experienced multilingual female health educators from similar cultural backgrounds over 7 weeks.

They deliver the program in simplified English as well as Dari and Hazaragi to ensure every student can understand the important information they are discussing.

The topics range from sexual health and preconception care to mental health and wellbeing, prevention of chronic diseases and advice on healthy relationships.

These topics can be sensitive to broach for many students that have experienced repressed patriarchal societies and limited health education and services so it’s important that we have the right partner organisation to deliver these culturally appropriate sessions.

Ensuring that the students feel comfortable participating in practical components of the sessions is a great testament to the ability of the Health Educators Mumtaz Masoud, Huda Al Saba and colleagues in creating a relaxed learning environment for this ‘women only’ program.

For many of these women, they do not have a regular female doctor, and many attend the closest bulk billing medical centres available to them. Coupled with their lack of confidence, language ability and low digital literacy skills, many times their health concerns are overlooked.

That’s why these sessions are not the end of the support. There are a range of resources and literature they are provided with on each of the topics covered in their language of origin. There are also links to other resources that they can access.

This partnership has led to empowered, more confident and healthier women in our classrooms that feel more assured in looking after their own health as well as their families and friends. This confidence has also had an impact on their English language studies with these women now thriving in class.

The Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program is delivered by MAX on behalf of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.


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