Migrant and Refugee Women's Health Initiative Launch

17 November 2016

Media Statement

The Migrant and Refugee Women’s Health Initiative was officially launched by Federal Health Minister, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, at an event co-hosted by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Migration Council Australia.
The Initiative brings together Medical Colleges, health care providers, community and Government to build consensus and design strategies that improve the provision of healthcare to Australia’s migrant and refugee women, and achieve positive health outcomes for the community. The Initiative is chaired by Professor Stephen Robson, President-Elect of RANZCOG.
“As Australia’s migration program has diversified, the shift in demographics has presented specific challenges for patient care, and medical professionals and health care services should be supported in meeting the needs of their consumers,” Professor Robson said.
He noted that the Initiative will support provision of accessible and culturally appropriate care within medical practice, as well as promote enhanced flow of information to migrant and refugee women with credible and authoritative guidance on key issues for preventive health and informed treatment.
“Improving the health and wellbeing of women has a direct positive impact on family care and community health across the board. Healthier women are more likely to raise health children and influence the health promoting choices of family members,” Professor Robson said.
Established with initial funding from the Australian Government, the Initiative received further financial support from Ramsay Health Care Australia, as well as contributions from a number of settlement services providers.
“Approximately 60 per cent of Australia’s future population growth will come from migration and Ramsay's hospitals serve communities which are increasingly multicultural. We want to ensure that we provide facilities and services which will improve the experience for the diverse patients and families who access our hospitals,” said Ramsay Chief Operating Officer Kate Munnings. 
“By working on this project we look forward to implementing best practice cultural and linguistic programs in our hospitals,” Ms Munnings concluded.
Ms Carla Wilshire, Chief Executive Officer of MCA and the Deputy Chair of the Initiative, said the project will provide a strategic approach to addressing the complexities within Australia’s health care system in the context of the growing cultural and linguistic diversity.
“Women, as the single most significant vulnerable group in the migration program, experience particular disadvantage when accessing health care due to the complexity of their care needs coupled with their pre-migration experiences and particular circumstances, including lack of systems knowledge or local networks, limited English language proficiency, and lower socio- economic status,” Ms Wilshire said.
The Initiative will be driven by a dedicated Working Group comprising representation from Medical Colleges, peak professional bodies for nurses and midwives, health care providers, community, and Government.
Specific projects will include equipping medical practitioners with relevant tools to understand and respond to cultural diversity in medical settings, establishing minimum standards for enhanced cultural capability within medical education, and developing targeted communication and outreach to migrant and refugee women to provide guidance on key issues for preventive health and informed treatment.

 For more information, contact Gulnara Abbasova on 0498 185 164.



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