Media Release: Multilingual COVID-19 Health Program Helps Improve Employment Outcomes for Migrant Women in Australia
Assisting skilled migrant women to find employment unlocks a vast pool of talent that is currently undervalued.
Australia’s diverse population has always been a great strength, with migrant workers playing a vital role in the country’s economy and society. However, a recent survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics concerningly revealed that 79% of employers struggle to find suitable staff, primarily due to a shortage of job applicants in the industries of healthcare and social assistance.
The Health in My Language Program led by the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, is creating job opportunities, promoting cultural exchange, and empowering migrant and refugee communities.
Launched in early 2022, the program has provided employment and training to 68 bilingual health educators who provide vaccine literacy and health education across Australia in partnership with key organisations in each state and territory.
When Samar Ibrahim migrated to Australia six years ago, she held an engineering degree and a Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Planning and Design. Now, she works as a bilingual health educator at the Australian Red Cross, the South Australian partner of the Health in My Language program.
Samar’s journey to becoming a health educator began with a 6-week course led by the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health and developed in collaboration with The Benchmarque Group. The training program, covers a range of health topics, including COVID-19, sexual and reproductive health, prevention of violence against women, mental health, and occupational health & safety, and includes an accredited competency unit designed to meet the specific objectives of the Communicate and Work in Health or Community Services course.
“The Health in My Language program takes an innovative approach to health education. It prioritises communication and a person-to person approach with participatory, peer-based sessions,” explains MCWH National Program Manager, Dr Regina Torres-Quiazon.
“The level of dedication demonstrated by professional bilingual health educators in their research and preparation prior to each information session is noteworthy. For an average 90-minute session, it typically takes several days to develop culturally appropriate presentations and resources that accurately reflect the topic at hand,” she adds.
Samar explains, “I act as an equal with the women I work with, creating an environment where they feel respected for the knowledge they already possess. The program values inclusivity and recognises the importance of each individual’s story. By connecting with others, women feel supported and guided. They leave with a newfound sense of confidence that they have the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their health.”
Health information sessions also serve as social gatherings, helping migrant and refugee communities and new arrivals to Australia to overcome isolation and support their mental health and wellbeing. Like many health educators in the program, Samar takes pride in her work, knowing that her skills and contributions have improved many people’s lives.
“Living in a diverse culture like Australia, I always tell other migrant women that being able to speak multiple languages is a professional asset and it is crucial that we recognise and value it.”
Australia’s investment in Migrant Skills Incentives is a positive step towards supporting our migrant population and ensuring their success in the workforce. Samar’s story and the success of the Health in My Language program demonstrate the importance of investing in initiatives that promote health equity while recognising the skills of our migrant workforce.
For media inquiries and to arrange interviews, please contact:
Kim Grosser Acting Communications Manager