Multicultural communities

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Working with interpreters

Working with a qualified interpreter is essential to ensure all patients can access health care regardless of their English language skills. Engaging an interpreter helps you to communicate effectively with your non-English speaking patients, can protect you from professional risk and is consistent with best practice ethical and professional standards.

Guidelines for engaging an interpreter

  • Identify the need for an interpreter as early as possible.
  • If a patient does not speak English (and you do not fluently speak their language):
    • engage a qualified interpreter
    • avoid using relatives or friends to interpret – consider only for simple day-to-day communication
    • do not use an automated translating app – these are not approved for use by health professionals when communicating with patients in a clinical setting.
  • If the patient requires an interpreter:
    • identify their preferences and record these on file
    • consider whether a longer appointment will be needed. Time required to communicate effectively with the patient may be included when claiming time‑tiered MBS items. See MBS online for more information.

TIS National Free Interpreting Service

Private medical practitioners and pharmacies can access the Free Interpreting Service delivered through TIS National to provide Medicare rebatable services to anyone in Australia who is eligible for Medicare.

Practice support staff and nurses working with a private medical practitioner registered with TIS National can also access the service.

TIS National is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year and provides access to interpreters of over 160 languages. This service ensures health professionals can provide quality care, advice and support to their culturally and linguistically diverse patients.

TIS National Provides:

  • immediate phone interpreting
  • pre-booked phone interpreting
  • on-site interpreting
  • video interpreting

More information about the TIS National Service, eligibility requirements and how to register and book are available on the website.

TIS National immediate phone interpreting

TIS National Medical Practitioner and Pharmacy Priority Line
Phone: 1300 131 450
Hours: 7 days, 24 hours

TIS National also provides pre-booked phone interpreting, on-site interpreting and video interpreting services. To book services or find out more about the service, contact the TIS National Team.

TIS National
Phone: 1300 575 847
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm

Allied health

Free Interpreting Service for allied health

From 24 October 2022, some privately employed allied health professionals will have access to the Australian Government’s Free Interpreting Service (FIS). The FIS aims to provide equitable access to key services for people with limited or no English language proficiency.

The service is delivered by the Department of Home Affairs’ Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on behalf of the Australian Government as a pilot program for selected LGAs based in areas of low English proficiency. The selected LGAs in the Brisbane South PHN region are Brisbane and Logan.

Brisbane South PHN Interpreting for Allied Health Professionals Program

If allied health professionals are not eligible for the Free Interpreting Service, Brisbane South PHN has an Interpreting for Allied Health Professionals Program to ensure private allied health services can access interpreting services at no cost across our whole region.

Multilingual allied health professionals

We have created a list of multilingual allied health professionals (AHPs) for anyone seeking an AHP who can provide health care services in a language other than English.

Translated resources

The Refugee Health Network Queensland (RHNQ) provides a comprehensive range of information and resources about refugee health, including translated resources.

Video resources

Brisbane South PHN, Welcome 360Queensland Ambulance Service and Multicultural Australia have created a video, ‘Calling an Ambulance in Queensland’ that is available in a range of languages. This video was created to ensure everyone in the community understands how the Queensland Ambulance Service works and what to expect when paramedics arrive.

Adaptations: EnglishAmharicArabicBurmeseDariS’gaw KarenSomaliSwahiliTigrinyaVietnamese

For many people, telehealth – speaking with their doctor or health care worker via phone or video call – is a new way of attending a medical appointment. To ensure the community understands how the telehealth system works,  Brisbane South PHN developed a video guide called What is telehealth?

To improve equity of access to services for our culturally and linguistically diverse population we supported the Refugee Health Network Queensland to adapt our Telehealth video guide into six languages – Arabic, Burmese, Kirundi, Swahili, Tigrinya and Somali.

Refugee health

Refugee Health Connect

Refugee Health Connect (RHC) is a partnership between Brisbane South PHN, Brisbane North PHN, Mater and Metro South Health. RHC provides a single point of contact for service providers to access information and support regarding refugee health.

Contact Refugee Health Connect
Phone: 07 3864 7580

SpotOnHealth HealthPathways

SpotOnHealth HealthPathways is an online information portal for use by health care professionals during consultations with their patients or clients. It provides relevant and current information about local health care services to support decision making and give advice to their patients or clients, including those from refugee backgrounds under ‘Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health’.

Australian Refugee Health Practice Guide

The Australian Refugee Health Practice Guide is a resource to support doctors, nurses and other primary care providers to deliver comprehensive, evidence-based on-arrival and ongoing health care for people from refugee backgrounds, including people seeking asylum. The guide contains condition-specific and population-specific advice and referral information that has been compiled by local and regional services.

The guide draws on the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases and Refugee Health Network of Australia’s ‘Recommendations for Comprehensive Post-Arrival Health Assessment for People from Refugee-Like Backgrounds’ and good practice approaches from practitioners working with people from refugee backgrounds.

More information