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.

Language Services Innovation Grants 

The Language Services Innovation Grants Program was a 4-year program established in 2017. Its aim was to help public hospitals provide effective and responsive language services in Victorian acute health settings.

The program included 2 2-year grant rounds. Each round ended with a Community of Practice forum facilitated by the Victorian Refugee Health Network to share project learnings with 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. It included presentations made by the 4 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 email diversity@health.vic.gov.au

Cultural diversity plan – delivering for diversity

The department's plan, Delivering for diversity - cultural diversity plan 2016-19, provides a framework 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 and its supporting guidelines, How to work with interpreting and translating services, supports the department and its funded services to respond to the needs of linguistically diverse people. This includes 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.

Language Services Credit Line

The department funds a Language Services Credit Line which provides access to on-site, telephone and video interpreting and translation for eligible Victorian government funded services.

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 DH Language services credit line guidelines for use. For a copy of the guidelines please email dhlanguageservices@health.vic.gov.au

Resources for CALD communities

Health translations website

Health services and professionals (and others working with CALD communities) can use the health translations website to find translated health information in a variety of languages. Health translations provides links to third party websites 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 Health Translations

Making the connection: online training resource

Making the connection is an online resource that uses dramatisation to demonstrate how to work with interpreters while providing services. It is currently being reviewed. Please email the Diversity team for more information. 

Reviewed 13 July 2022

Health.vic

Contact details

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

Diversity team, Department of Health

For queries about the department's Language Services Credit Line

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