WOMHEn: Workforce of Multilingual Health Educators

The WOMHEn project is a statewide multilingual health education project initially developed during the early COVID-19 pandemic in order to create a rapid response health education network to deliver COVID-19 education.

Funded by the Working for Victoria initiative, MCWH in partnership with GEN VIC trained health educators across 10 regional and metro women’s health services to disseminate COVID-19 information and deliver multilingual health education in over 20 languages to migrant and refugee women.

Moving into 2022 and beyond, the WOMHEn project aims to support a sustainable bilingual health education workforce throughout Victoria.


Left Behind: Migrant and Refugee Women’s Experiences of COVID-19

As the result of 12 months of work by multilingual health educators, employed by the WOMHEn project (funded by Jobs Victoria), we were able to undertake over 70 interviews with migrant and refugee women to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their lives. The experiences shared in these interviews follow a key theme: migrant and refugee women felt left behind in pandemic response and support. With increased financial insecurity, care responsibilities and emotional strain, the pandemic had a profound impact on the mental, physical and financial wellbeing of migrant and refugee women. In their own words, this report tells the story of a community who felt forgotten and were ultimately reliant on each other for support and information.

Download the Left Behind (2021) here.

Breaking the Barriers: Migrant and Refugee Women’s Experiences of Health Care in Victoria

Phase II of WOMHEn Project included delivering health education sessions to migrant and refugee women in 18 different community languages to address barriers to vaccine literacy and uptake, vaccine hesitancy, and service navigation of migrant and refugee women, including those who are carers, of childbearing age or pregnant, and living in rural and regional Victoria. The project culminated in providing access of health education sessions to 3287 migrant and refugee women of whom 1,631 of participants reported that they had increased their awareness of the health benefits of accessing COVID-19 vaccines after attending the session.

This report documents the addressing barriers to vaccine literacy and uptake, vaccine hesitancy, and service navigation of migrant and refugee women. It revealed that many women had accessed COVID-19 vaccinations but they felt under-confident about vaccines and hesitant to access third doses, as well as distrust of vaccines

Structural barriers such as difficulty in accessing interpreter services; financial barriers; lack of access to information on preventative health services; lack of culturally appropriate services especially in mental health services were highlighted in the analysis of this report.

Download Breaking the Barriers (2022) here.