Multicultural communities

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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.

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 barriers, for example, accessing appropriate interpreting services
  • health literacy challenges
  • cultural safety and appropriateness of available health services.

These barriers were evidenced in our Needs Assessment, which identified several health priorities for our region. Our focus is on improving health outcomes and experiences for our culturally and linguistically diverse population by collaborating with partners to ensure health care is accessible, culturally responsive and inclusive. Our objectives include building capacity in primary care, improving health literacy and improving system-wide integration of resources for multicultural communities.

Pasifika and Māori health and wellbeing

The Brisbane south region is home to approximately 52 000 people of Pasifika and Māori decent. Although many Pasifika and Māori communities are thriving, overall, there are a significant number of long-standing health inequities and poorer health outcomes for Pasifika and Māori people compared to those of the total Queensland population.

Brisbane South PHN together with Metro South Health and Children’s Health Queensland, have been working collaboratively with local community service providers and representatives to develop a unified approach to improving health outcomes for the Pasifika and Māori community in our region. The development of the Pasifika and Māori Health and Wellbeing: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan for Brisbane South 2020 – 2025 will guide the collaboration of community services and representatives together with health organisations and how the region delivers health services into the future

The Strategic Framework 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.

To provide further support to stakeholders, we have developed the Pasifika and Māori Health and Wellbeing Strategy website.

The website is designed to be a collaborative place where you can easily find all things about the Strategy. It includes:

• updates on Strategy implementation
• culturally appropriate resources
• data and research
• community services directory.

Use of an ambulance

Accessing the right emergency services at the right time is important in saving lives. Some culturally and linguistically diverse communities do not call for an ambulance because they do not know how to. Some are worried about what will happen to them in the ambulance, how much it will cost or that they will not be understood if they do not speak English well.

Acknowledging this, we worked together with Welcome 360, Queensland Ambulance Service and Multicultural Australia to create a video, ‘Calling an Ambulance in Queensland’ that has been translated into nine languages other than English.

This video aims to make sure everyone in the community has equal access to an ambulance in their time of need and is aware of how they work and what to expect when paramedics arrive.

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

Translations: AmharicArabicBurmeseDariS’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.

More information