Department of Health

Improving health for Victorians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

Key messages

  • Victoria is Australia’s most culturally diverse state.
  • We need health services and health professionals who can deliver culturally responsive and equitable services, to ensure the whole population receives quality healthcare.
  • Several initiatives and resources support health services and health professionals to deliver services that are appropriate for and responsive to Victoria’s CALD communities.

Victoria is Australia’s most culturally diverse state, with almost one quarter of our population born overseas. Victorians come from over 230 countries, speak over 200 languages and follow more than 120 different faiths.

We need health services and health professionals who can deliver culturally responsive and equitable services, to ensure the whole population receives quality healthcare.

The following initiatives and resources support health services and health professionals to deliver services that are appropriate for and responsive to Victoria’s culturally and linguistically diverse  communities.

Engaging interpreters during COVID-19 - Guidance for Victorian Government funded agencies and programs

Interpreters play an essential role in ensuring that Victorians with limited English proficiency or who use sign language can access services and understand and participate meaningfully in the care they receive. 

This guidance note advises Victorian Government funded agencies and services on how to safely and effectively engage interpreters during COVID-19. It adds to and temporarily supersedes applicable aspects of existing language services policies and guidelines. 

Language Services Innovation Grants 

The Language Services Innovation Grants Program was a four-year program established in 2017 with the aim of improving the capacity of public hospitals to provide effective and responsive language services in acute health settings in Victoria.

Comprising of 2 2-year grant rounds as well as a Community of Practice facilitated by the Victorian Refugee Health Network. Each grant round concluded with a Community of Practice forum to disseminate project learnings to a wider audience.

Community of practice forum

The second and final Language Services Innovation Grants Community of Practice forum was held on 23 June 2021 with presentations made by the four 2019 projects and guest speaker Dr Prithi Ravij. 

Presentations from the forum

  • Improving patient access to interpreting services in emergency, acute, and outpatient settings through video interpreting – Alfred Health
  • Video interpreting for home-based patient care; working to improve communication with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds – Melbourne Health
  • Co-designed, implemented and evaluated multi-language maternal health education videos for refugees and migrants in Southeast Melbourne – Monash Health
  • Overcoming radiation therapy language barriers with the use of an instant translation device for culturally and linguistically diverse patients – Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
  • Guest speaker presentation:  'What healthcare interventions are available for patients with limited English proficiency?  Dr Prithi Rajiv

For copies of the presentations by Monash Health, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Dr Prithi Rajiv email diversity@health.vic.gov.au

Cultural diversity plan – Delivering for diversity

The Department of Health and Human Services cultural diversity plan Delivering for diversity - cultural diversity plan 2016-19 provides a framework for the department to embed cultural diversity in all its services, programs and policies. The plan builds on the department’s wide-ranging efforts to improve service access and effectiveness for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

These communities include those with a long established presence in Victoria, as well as recently arrived migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers.The plan aligns with Victoria’s multicultural objectives to:

  • maximise the benefits of our cultural diversity
  • build the capacity of culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • promote social cohesion and community resilience
  • ensure that our services and infrastructure respond to the cultural diversity of our state.

The plan was developed as part of the department’s obligations under the Multicultural Diversity Act 2011

Language services policy

The department’s Language services policy supports the department and its funded services to respond to the needs of linguistically diverse people, including migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and those who use sign language.

The Language services policy identifies when language services should be offered to clients based on legislative requirements and best-practice service delivery. Department-funded organisations and services are encouraged to develop their own language services policies and procedures consistent with this policy.

The policy is available on the department's corporate website

Language Services Credit Line

The department funds two language services credit lines, which provides access to telephone interpreting, on-site interpreting and translation.

Eligible Victorian Government funded services or departmental staff and some eligible organisations in receipt of Commonwealth Home Support Programme funding can access the credit line.

The credit line comprises two streams: Health Programs and Human Services Programs. For more information contact the department using the contact details available on this page. 

Language Loop (formerly Victorian Translation and Interpreting Service or VITS) is the current service provider.

Conditions of use and information on how to make a booking through the credit line can be found in the following documents. 

DHHS Language Services Credit Line - health programs – guidelines for use 

DHHS Language Services Credit Line – human services – access guide

Resources for CALD communities

Health translations directory

Health services and professionals (and others working with CALD communities) can use the health translations directory to find translated health information in a variety of languages. The directory provides web links to third party sites with translated resources. Those sites include government departments, peak health bodies, hospitals, and community health and welfare agencies. You can search by language and topic.

Visit the Health Translations Directory

Making the connection: on-line training resource

Health services can use Making the connection, an online resource that uses dramatisation to demonstrate how to work with interpreters while providing services. 

 The Making the Connection videos are currently being reviewed. Please email the Diversity team for further information. 

Reviewed 05 July 2019

Health.vic

Contact details

International, interstate and mobile callers: +61 3 9096 9000

Diversity team Department of Health

Contact details

For queries about the health services stream of the department's Language Services Credit Line.

Health stream Diversity team, Department of Health

Contact details

For queries about the human services stream of the department's Language Services Credit Line.

Human Services Stream Department of Families, Fairness and Housing

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