S7: Responding to multiple needs through cultural context

Time: 11:55am – 12:45am
Location: Chapman Room
Tamkin Essa, Settlement Services International

7.1 Community Clinics Project

Dr Susan Sisko, Western Sydney University 

Melissa Cooke, Bardnados Australia

About the presentation

Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (2013) reported that mental health services often fail to capture information on culturally and linguistic diverse (CALD) populations, which in turn, limits the level of service access or mental health outcomes in some diverse communities. Mental health experiences and outcomes of some diverse groups are very different to other Australians, particularly first- and second-generation immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and their families. . We have developed re-imagined, no-cost, and easy access counselling clinics by creating joint-working agreements with WSU and several major NGOs who provide social service support in the diverse LGAs of Sydney’s west. We have established five WSU Community Clinics within the NGOs offering free counselling in as many as 8 different languages.

About the presenters

Dr Susan Sisko is a lecturer and researcher with the Challenging Racism Project | Diversity and Human Rights Research Centre at Western Sydney University. Susan is the author and co-editor of the book, Cultural Responsiveness in Counselling and Psychology (2021).  Susan is passionate about changing the debate in the field by moving away from a Eurocentric position and focusing on social justice and systemic issues – ultimately shifting blame from vulnerable and non-dominant groups to exploring systemics issues as related to quality of care and the inequity gap in accessing mental health services. Additionally, Susan hosts a podcast called 'Diversity and Belonging.

Melissa Cooke has worked in the community services sector for over 18 years. Melissa has worked across disability, aged care, young adults in a mental health setting, leaving care, youth, crisis work, residential care, homelessness, family, and children work and community during her career to date. Melissa believes that how we engage with others has a huge impact on people’s lives which drives long-term outcomes and change. 

7.2 A qualitative exploration of refugee experiences of access to a dedicated multi-disciplinary refugee health team in an Australian context 

Dr Jennifer White
University of Newcastle 

About the presentation

Refugees in Australia are recognised as an underserved population and suffer a high rate of physical and psychosocial problems, many of which are treatable or preventable. We aimed to explore the experience of refugee access to a dedicated multi-disciplinary refugee health team. We identified the benefit of early access to allied health for prompt diagnosis, treatment and management of conditions including congenital and developmental conditions, mental health and chronic diseases. Furthermore, the multi-disciplinary refugee health team contributed to health promotion activities in the community. This was primarily achieved through opportunistic approaches in forums conducted at TAFE where many refugees are required to attend English. However, poor health literacy meant that refugees remain vulnerable and there was poor integration of care. We posit the need for ongoing investments in health promotion and adjustment support.

About the presenter

Dr Jennifer White is a senior researcher and occupational therapist (OT) with over 20 years’ experience working across community, hospital and aged care settings. She is currently a Research Fellow with the University of Newcastle. Dr White's research has made a significant contribution to chronic disease research, such as stroke and cancer, with an emphasis on psychological morbidity, and exploring the benefits of interventions that improve mood, functioning and quality of life -as well as in health and aged care system improvement. She has published over 60 manuscripts in peer reviewed journals.

7.3 Healthy Minds - 7 tips for a healthy headspace Mental health literacy resources by youth for youth in Swahili, Arabic and Karenni

Allyson Pazos
Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra 

About the presentation 

The ‘Healthy Minds, 7 tips for a healthy headspace’ translation project is a mental health literacy program focused on increasing the mental health literacy of young people from Swahili, Arabic and Karenni speaking backgrounds. The project responds to the increased need for youth to access mental health literacy resources that are youth focused and culturally relevant and appropriate. Recognises youth as leaders in the community and through their participation builds their agency to achieve effective broader community engagement, enables cultural aspects to shape what constitutes wellbeing for them, their peers and their communities. The collaboration and partnership between local mental health service ‘headspace Wollongong’, the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra and the young people fostered interactions that were youth focused and culturally responsive, creating trust and pathways for future engagement and support accessibility. The program was awarded the Excellence on Youth Participation Award by Youth Action, recognising the authentic participation of young people in the project.  

About the presenter

Allyson Pazos is the Youth & Community Manager at the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra. Allyson is responsible for leading, developing and implementing youth and community regional programs and has supported successful settlement outcomes and multicultural youth development and capacity building initiatives in Western Sydney and the Illawarra since 2012.  Allyson has a strong corporate background, qualifications in training and assessment and experience in designing and evaluating projects to increase social capital in refugee communities. 

7.4 Practical ways of engaging CALD community in problem solving, relaxation and pain self-management and linking goals to real life cultural activities

Biljana Stanoevska
Multicultural Health Service (Wollongong)

About the presentation

The aim of the presentation is to demonstrate best practice of authentic engagement with an elderly CALD community, people with perceived disability and mental health condition. A group of CALD women were engaged in developing a culturally meaningful and effective chronic pain management program. This initiative was developed in response to low health literacy about pain rehabilitation, psychosocial and cultural normalisation of ageing and pain, and lower engagement levels with services among CALD women. This project has enabled community-based pain management for participants, whilst still accessing ISLHD services to manage chronic pain and prevent hospital presentation. Participant benefits include improved emotional, mental and physical wellbeing to manage their pain and greater enjoyment of daily activities. This presentation demonstrated practical applications of problem solving for pain severity, enhanced communication, maintenance of activities and self-management, stress, sleep disturbance and nutrition. A culturally specific relaxation audio file has been created for participants to practice in any settings when faced with challenges.

About the presenter

Biljana Stanoevska is Health Education Officer, Multicultural Health Service, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District. During the pandemic Biljana was working in Public Health Unit COVID Response Team. She has experience in Child Protection with Department of Community and Justice Wollongong for 11 years, was a winner in Commitment to Multicultural Diversity with DCJ. Awards achieved in NSW Health are finalist in integrated value-based care for the project Chronic Pain Self-Management with Macedonian Community, nomination for Premier's award for the same project, and finalist in Transforming Patient Experience for Relaxation Recordings for Multicultural Communities, NSW Multicultural Health Communication Awards.

Last updated:

20 Oct 2022

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