Multicultural health

Our multicultural health program

The Brisbane South PHN region is home to approximately 23% of the Queensland population – over 1.1 million people from many different backgrounds and cultures, including the area of highest refugee settlement in Queensland. In fact, 30% of Queensland’s population that is born overseas lives in our region and 19% of our region’s population is multicultural or comes from a non-English speaking background.

The Brisbane South PHN multicultural health program aims to improve the health outcomes and experiences of people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds by working with partners to ensure that primary health care is accessible, inclusive and culturally appropriate. Our objectives include building capacity in primary care, improving health literacy and improving system-wide integration of resources for CALD communities.

Working with interpreters

Working with a qualified interpreter is essential to ensure all patients can access health care regardless of their English language skills. Using an interpreter when treating non-English speaking patients ensures you are able to communicate effectively with your patients, are protected from professional risk and is consistent with best practice ethical and professional standards outlined in Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia.

Guidelines for using 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):
    • use 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.

TIS National Free Interpreting Service

The Federal Government’s Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) provides 24/7, free translating services for registered health care and allied health professionals. This service ensures these professionals can provide quality health care advice and support to their culturally and linguistically diverse patients and clients. TIS National provides access to interpreters of over 160 languages.

TIS National is available to private medical practitioners, nurses and other practice support staff working with a private medical practitioner registered with TIS National, pharmacists and other pharmacy staff when providing community pharmacy services.

A unique client code is required for each practice the medical practitioner works in. Individual pharmacies require a unique client code to access the service and pharmacists not associated with a pharmacy can register for their own code.

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

Access a TIS National Interpreter

For immediate phone interpreting or urgent registration, health professionals can contact the TIS National Priority Line.

TIS National Priority Line
Phone: 1300 131 450
Hours: 7 days, 24 hours

Additionally, TIS National also provides pre-booked phone and on-site 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

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 patients and health professionals to access information and resources regarding all aspects of refugee health, including a full list of contacts for refugee health services in South-east Queensland.


  • Providing one point of contact for all aspects of refugee health.
  • Supporting primary health professionals to give people from refugee backgrounds more integrated clinical and culturally-appropriate health care.
  • Assisting primary health workers to navigate the refugee health system by linking people from refugee backgrounds to other suitable health care providers based on a range of patient-specific factors such as the location, complexity of care needs and cultural requirements.
  • Building the skills and capabilities of primary health professionals to manage the care of refugee families in a culturally and clinically appropriate manner through:
    • peer-to-peer education from Brisbane South PHN’s clinical leads – a General Practice and practice nurse who has extensive experience in refugee health
    • in-house practice support and guidance
    • cultural awareness training
    • clinical education events
    • resources for clinical and administrative staff.

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 multicultural communities under ‘Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health’.

Refugee Health Network Queensland

The Refugee Health Network Queensland provides a comprehensive range of clinical and administrative health care information and resources about refugee health services in Queensland, including a variety of translated resources.

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 links 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.

Interpreting for Allied Health Professionals Program

Brisbane South PHN has established the Interpreting for Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) Program to:

  • support access to private allied health services for non-English speaking clients
  • ensure interpreter services are available to private allied health services to communicate with non-English speaking clients.

The program is available to a limited number of allied health disciplines within the Brisbane South PHN region through a capped funding stream. It includes access to immediate and pre-booked phone and on-site interpreter services through TIS National. In return, AHPs must agree to complete Brisbane South PHN’s Cross-Cultural Use of Interpreter Training and participate in a Program Evaluation Survey.

Allied health disciplines with access to the program





Diabetes Educators




Exercise Physiologists

Social Workers

Mental Health Nurses

Speech Pathologists

Occupational Therapists


Register for the Interpreting for AHPs Program

To register your interest in this program, please complete this expression of interest.

Due to the high number of allied health professionals now registered for the program, Brisbane South PHN are reviewing each new EOI with consideration to local need and program capacity.

Multilingual allied health professionals

Brisbane South PHN has 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. You can access or register for inclusion in our multilingual allied health professionals directory, below.

To register for inclusion on our list of multilingual AHPs, complete this form.

More information

Website feedback or support