Multicultural communities

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.

People from multicultural backgrounds, particularly non-English speaking backgrounds, will often face additional barriers to accessing and navigating the Australian health care systems, including:

  • language challenges, for example, accessing appropriate interpreter services
  • knowledge and health literacy
  • cultural safety and appropriateness of available health services.

These barriers were evidenced in our Needs Assessment, which identified several health priorities for our region focused on improving health outcomes for our culturally and linguistically diverse population.

The two health priorities for our region immediately relevant to providing better health outcomes for multicultural communities and which have informed our decision-making and prioritisation of local and regional projects are:

  • improving access to, and navigation of, the health system
  • improving health literacy.

Pasifika and Māori health and wellbeing

Across the Brisbane south region, anecdotal evidence indicates that Pasifika and Māori peoples are over-represented in poor health and wellbeing outcomes. Brisbane South PHN, Metro South Health and Children’s Health Queensland have collaborated and engaged with the local community representatives to develop a unified approach to improving health outcomes for Pasifika and Māori peoples.

Pasifika and Māori Health and Wellbeing: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan for Brisbane South 2020 – 2025 articulates a shared vision, and shared values and priorities for improving Pasifika and Māori health and wellbeing in Brisbane south. The plan promotes a system-wide and community-embedded approach to achieve its objectives and a rationale for a targeted strategy. It also provides practical guidance for implementation across priority areas identified by key stakeholders in a way that is culturally-responsive, family-centred, holistic, collaborative, faith-filled and innovative. The plan spans across the continuum of health care from prevention to management and builds on the strengths of local and international examples of best practice.

Use of an ambulance

19% of the Brisbane South PHN region comes from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds. Through our Needs Assessment, we learned that for our diverse, multicultural population, limited English language skills and concerns about cost are a significant barrier to them accessing health care services, especially calling an ambulance.

Acknowledging this, we identified the need for resources to help people from a multicultural or non-English speaking background to feel comfortable knowing how to call an ambulance and understand how they operate and what to expect when paramedics arrive. In response, Welcome 360Queensland Ambulance Service and Multicultural Development Australia worked together with us to create a video, ‘Calling an Ambulance in Queensland’ that has been translated into nine languages other than English.

These videos are now being used in education programs for newly arrived refugees to ensure they have the knowledge and understanding of how to call an ambulance when they need to.

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?

Acknowledging the diversity of our Brisbane south population and aiming to improve equality of access to services for our culturally and linguistically diverse population, we identified that it was also essential to provide resources for non-English speaking members of our community. Together, with The Refugee Health Network, we translated our Telehealth video guide into audio guides for the five next most common languages in our region – Arabic, Burmese, Kirundi, Swahili and Tigrinya.

Watch the animation What is telehealth?

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