Community panel provides ideas for better primary health care access in multicultural Melbourne

A community panel addresses the question: how can we make it easier for people from multicultural Melbourne to get primary health care?
  13 May 2024  NWMPHN   

In April 2024, NWMPHN held a 2-day workshop attended by 23 community members from a range of cultural backgrounds. They were asked to address the question: “How can we make it easier for people from multicultural Melbourne to get primary health care?”

Before doing so, participants were provided with 2 sets of important background information.

First, they learned that NWMPHN’s most recent Health Needs Assessment identified the top 4 barriers to accessing health care in the region as: cost, waiting time, not knowing where to go, and not being able to get an appointment.

Second, they were given the findings of a 2021 report commissioned by NWMPHN and prepared by the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria. The report, called Bridging the Health Gap, looked at ways to improve access to culturally safe primary health care services during the after-hours period.

With this information, the workshop participants discussed 5 key questions:

  1. What would help people from multicultural communities better understand the primary health care system?
  2. What do you think would help people from multicultural communities feel more comfortable using the primary care?
  3. What helps to make people feel respected and understood when engaging with the health care system?
  4. What strengths do you see in your community that could enable better access to primary health care?
  5. What do you think are the main barriers to accessing health care for people from multicultural backgrounds?

The result was 18 recommendations, which were grouped into 3 objectives:

  • Increase understanding of available primary care services among multicultural communities.
  • Facilitate navigation and support to overcome barriers to accessing primary health care.
  • Enhance cultural competency within primary care facilities to better service multicultural populations.

NWMPHN is now incorporating these objectives, and the ideas that underpin them, into a funding proposal. If successful, the funding will be used to develop activities and specifications and to engage services to bring these ideas to life, and provide better access to the community.

Thank you to the community panel members and all those who took part in this collaborative process and also to our partners.

Mosaic Lab logo Sortition Foundation logo