Multicultural health

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Our multicultural health program

The Brisbane South PHN region is home to over 1.2 million people – many from different backgrounds and cultures. In fact, 31% of people in our region were born overseas and 20% were born in a non-English speaking country. Brisbane south is also the area of highest refugee settlement in Queensland and the largest Pasifika and Māori community in Australia.

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 health care is accessible, inclusive and culturally responsive. 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. 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
Phone: 131 450
Hours: 7 days, 24 hours

TIS National Medical Practitioner and Pharmacy Priority Line
Phone: 1300 131 450
Hours: 7 days, 24 hours
The Priority Line is only available to private medical practitioners and pharmacies (and their support staff).

Allied health

Free Interpreting Service for allied health

Since October 2022, some privately employed allied health professionals have access to the Australian Government’s Free Interpreting Services (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) as a pilot program for selected LGAs based on 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) to support you in finding an AHP who can provide health care services in a language other than English for your patient.

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

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.

RHC Services

  • Assisting service providers to navigate the refugee health system
  • 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 lead – a General Practitioner (GP) with extensive experience in refugee health
    • in-house practice support and guidance
    • cross-cultural training
    • clinical education events
    • resources for clinical and administrative staff.

Contact Refugee Health Connect
Phone: 07 3864 7580

Brisbane South HealthPathways

Brisbane South 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.’

Refugee Health Network Queensland

The Refugee Health Network Queensland provides a comprehensive range of clinical and administrative information and resources, including a variety of translated resources.

Health Translations

Health Translations is a free online library of high-quality translated Australian health and wellbeing information.

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.

Pasifika and Māori Health and Wellbeing Strategy Website

The website includes culturally appropriate resources and a community services directory.

Education opportunities

Communicating across cultures in primary healthcare

Videos of an education event delivered in June 2018 designed for clinicians and administration staff working in primary healthcare. It aims to provide the tools to understand and bridge cultural difference in order to have effective interactions with people from different cultural backgrounds and ensure the delivery of high-quality health care.

Introduction to Cultural Competence

A series of online training courses that gives participants the key skills and knowledge to work with people from different cultures. It is practical, logical and creates genuine engagement through interactive multimedia activities. The training gives strategies for reducing misunderstandings caused by culture or language, both with clients and internally. It sets a clear organisational agenda for cross-cultural practices and creates an opportunity for participants to make these practices routine (2 hr 15 min).

Health Literacy Essentials

The majority of Australians have low health literacy; 60% of people you see, have problems understanding and using the information you give. Health Literacy Essentials gives participants the skills to communicate more effectively with consumers, including how to use plain language in written and spoken communication (45 min).

Caring for people from a refugee-like background

A series of videos delivered by experienced GPs introducing refugee health care and practical information to support the care of people of refugee background in Australia.  

Refugee Health Network Queensland

Includes upcoming training opportunities and videos of past held training related to refugee health.

Quality improvement

Brisbane South PHN has a quality improvement toolkit that will assist your practice to understand your practice’s cultural profile, ensure ethnicity and country of birth are recorded, and ensure your practice understands how to access interpreters.

More information