For some migrants and refugees, obtaining proper health care might have been impossible in their home country or during their journey to Australia. Upon arrival, they might not know how to access basic health services. Moreover, various obstacles can hinder people from culturally diverse communities from accessing general and specialised health services, such as:
- Unfamiliarity with the available services
- Challenges in finding or accessing those services
- Struggling to obtain permission from parents, guardians, or older siblings to use the services
- Real or perceived language barriers
- Distrust of sharing personal information and physical access with “officials.”
- Discomfort in exposing their bodies, which may have scars or injuries (Victorian Refugee Health Network, 2014).
In addition, we know that individuals from refugee backgrounds need tailored support to access general practitioner clinics, refugee health programs, and other primary care services.
Migration and Settlement For Culturally Diverse Communities
Migration and settlement can negatively impact individuals’ and communities’ physical and mental well-being. While this is especially apparent among refugees and humanitarian arrivals into culturally diverse communities, research indicates that these factors can also adversely influence the health of all migrants.
Accessing Healthcare Services
Health services accessibility can significantly impact the health of culturally and linguistically diverse individuals. Furthermore, their ability to access appropriate healthcare services is often hindered by several factors, which include but are not limited to:
- Limited English proficiency and the need for professional interpreters
- Inadequate knowledge of the healthcare system, mainly primary healthcare
- Isolation and lack of social and family support networks
- Cultural stigma and shame surrounding health issues, such as sexually transmitted infections (such as HIV), tuberculosis, disability, mental illness, and substance use
- Past negative experiences with the healthcare system, either overseas or after migrating to Australia
- Ongoing psychological trauma
The healthcare system must recognise and address these barriers to ensure that individuals from culturally diverse communities can access appropriate healthcare services.
The Culturally Diverse Communities Healthcare Challenge
Addressing the unique challenges culturally and linguistically diverse individuals face in accessing healthcare services is crucial for their overall well-being. Furthermore, by recognising and working to eliminate barriers such as language proficiency, lack of knowledge, isolation, and cultural stigma, the healthcare system can become more inclusive and better equipped to serve the diverse needs of these individuals. Therefore, healthcare providers and policymakers must develop strategies that foster an environment of understanding, support, and equitable access to healthcare services for all, regardless of cultural or linguistic background.