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2021 Core Values Awards Highly Commended | Health

IAP2 Australasia Core Values Awards Case study

Multicultural communities stopping a pandemic in its tracks! | democracyCo & SA Health

Highlights at a glance

  • This project was undertaken by SA Health, with support of democracyCo and Multicultural Affairs in the state of South Australia.
  • The purpose of the project was to better understand how South Australia’s diverse multicultural communities were experiencing the impact of COVID19, how best to work and communicate with them and what supports they needed to better prevent outbreaks.
  • Addressing COVID19 ultimately relies on every person prioritising the health of others and their communities above of their own needs. It is a collaborative effort by everyone – coordinated and communicated by our governments. The “Multicultural COVID19 Engagement Project” recognised the importance of our collective action, focusing on building relationships between community and government at the highest levels. The Minister for Health, the government  spokesperson for Multicultural Affairs and the Chief Public Health Officer all sat with cultural leaders to understand their needs and the experience of their communities. They aimed to build understanding, trust and respect to ultimately improve communication between government and communities as well as support communities in ways that they wanted and needed.
  • Over 40 leaders from 40 different multicultural communities met online over two Zoom sessions (two groups of 20+).
  • The project involved consulting with multicultural communities in order to build a stronger collaborative approach to the management of COVID19.
  • This project was unique and innovative for the following reasons –
    • Cross multicultural community conversation – breaking down silos between communities and enabling cross community supports to be established.
    • Community leaders with leaders of government – a slow unstructured conversation occurred helping to build relationships / trust and ensuring that the communities were heard by decision makers. In this sense the process removed the normal barriers of communication.
    • The process was conducted online, using a virtual room.
  • This project had immediate and lasting impact, the following three notable outcomes –
    • It directly enabled the early control of the Thebarton cluster (outbreak) in August 2020 preventing a possible ‘second wave’. The information gathered and framework developed from the engagement enabled SA Health to stage a quick and targeted response, contacting the Afghan community, providing clear information about minimising any spread of COVID19 and ultimately restricting the cluster to only 5 cases.
    • Culturally and linguistically diverse information now reaches over 500 leaders and influencers, and 20 support agencies have partnered to engage with consumers. There have been 62,261 website visits to the newly established  multicultural COVID page since July.
    • In addition, the automated translation feature on the accessibility toolbar has been used 19,626 times since its launch in Nov 2020, and in the last 3 months has been used to translate over 14,000 pages. The translation tool has over 100 languages, including 35 text-to-speech voices.

Three key engagement takeaways:

  • It is all about Relationships, Relationships, Relationships – the engagement process sought to build relationships between the top levels of government and cultural leaders. These relationships held SA Health in good stead as it sought to combat outbreaks.
  • You can build relationships online!
  • Engagement processes can lead to the unexpected (in very positive ways!) …. Whilst the process was convened to understand how government could communicate with and best support communities, unexpectedly the process also served to help communities identify ways that they could support each other.