“You know what this means, don’t you”, said the young doctor in the middle of the night. “No, I don’t!” I wanted to scream. He was speaking to me in French and I was in Geneva, Switzerland, in the early stages of labour for what was a “difficult” birth. I would have given anything to be back home, having things explained in English – please not French! But French it was and, although my daughter arrived as beautiful as the morning sun, getting through the experience was traumatic to say the least. If only someone had shown me some love and understanding…

World Wellness Group understands this need.

Delivering high quality, culturally compassionate care to the community is at the heart of the World Wellness Group mission. This project works with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, providing a range of healthcare options through their multicultural health and well-being clinic in Brisbane. They want to assist those with language barriers, cultural barriers, past trauma and feelings of exclusion in Australia to traverse the healthcare minefield and to have access to fair and equitable services.

But even when services are presented, the options available can appear impossible to fathom. To remedy this, WWG came up with the brilliant idea of presenting basic information to prospective patients in their dominant language. So a series of videos in 15 different languages were developed. These videos explain things in a meaningful way so that patients feel welcome and accepted, and more easily understand their healthcare options and obligations. As Marina Chand, the Project Manager for WWG says, “[this] is the first step to high quality healthcare”. She added that “Having a language and cultural barrier has a direct impact on health status.”*

But services such as these videos come at a cost and as WWG is not funded by government, they rely on donations and support from the wider community and from like-minded organisations to realise their projects. In this case, the Happy Herb Shop Joondalup provided $2,000 dollars to One Health Organisation (OHO) to support this collaborative project. This was enough money to produce the videos, with substantial help from some wonderful language volunteers. There was even enough money left over to purchase a tablet for the videos to be played on at Reception.

I say hats off to WWG for their idea, to OHO for sourcing funding and to the Happy Herb Shop Joondalup for providing the funds. A video explaining things in my language would have made such a difference to my hospital experience in Switzerland, and I wholeheartedly agree with Marina when she says; “These consent videos make an enormous difference to the running of our clinic…. We would love to see innovative ideas like these take off in every healthcare facility in Australia!”

During our chat, Marina told me that love is her favourite word in any language. I am sure that understanding, compassion and caring are there in equal measure.


*ref: Public Health Association of Australia (2008)


– by Suzannah Clerc