MEDIA RELEASE: Health Literacy policy paper addresses major health knowledge gaps in culturally diverse communities
Tuesday 21 August 2012
Today Health Minister Hon David Davis launched an Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria policy paper at Parliament House, to address the alarmingly low rates of health literacy in diverse communities.
An Investment Not an Expense: Enhancing Health Literacy in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities showed the financial cost of low health literacy far outweighed the needed investment.
ECCV Deputy Chairperson Eddie Micallef said pressure was placed on the entire healthcare system when diverse communities did not receive the health literacy assistance they needed.
“Low health literacy produces costs for all community members. It places increased pressure on our resources and our healthcare system, the effects of this are universal, so all Victorians have a stake in seeing this situation improve,” Mr Micallef said.
The paper revealed only 33 per cent of people born overseas have adequate or good health literacy. This figure dropped to 27 per cent for those who arrived in Australia during the past five years.
Mr Micallef said people with low health literacy presented for treatment at crisis point, were unable to effectively manage their own health needs and had reduced quality of life.
“Non-English speaking patients are found to spend more time in hospital, be more likely to suffer adverse clinical reactions and have higher re-admission and diagnostic testing rates,” Mr Micallef said.
He called on the Victorian Government to respond to the paper’s recommendation with a robust and culturally competent healthcare strategy.
“For CALD Victorians, increased health literacy requires access to clearly communicated, high quality, in-language information and information that is available in a variety of formats, including audio-visual and pictorial resources,” he said.
“We live in a highly diverse society. We need to ensure our health service system understands and is understood by our culturally diverse population.”
The launch also featured expert speakers Jenni Smith, Executive Director of Ambulatory and Consulting Services at Northern Health, and Michal Morris, General Manager at the Centre of Culture, Ethnicity and Health.
An Investment Not an Expense Recommendations
- Service providers must support clients to become increasingly hearth literate by providing accessible information and person centred care
- Specialist language service departments must be established in hospitals to provide high quality interpreting and translating
- Cross-cultural communication must be funded and prioritized to the same level as other allied health services
Investment Not an Expense Available Online
Investment Not an Expense is available here.
ECCV Deputy Chairperson Eddie Micallef is available to make media comment. Contact Sarah Hunt on (03) 9349 4122.
Commenting is not available in this entry.