Promoting health literacy in refugee background communities

23/Jun/2021     Health

Refugee Week (20 - 26 June) is a national celebration acknowledging the valuable contribution people from a refugee background make in our society.

The theme for this year is unity which aims to promote harmony and togetherness and is the perfect way to describe the Mater Refugee Health 's health literacy programs. 

Today we meet Deka, a new member of the Refugee Health Network Queensland, which is auspiced by the Mater and is passionate about promoting health literacy in newly arrived refugee background communities.

Deka who is from a refugee background herself hopes her lived experience coupled with her qualifications in public health, will help inform how health literacy can increase within these communities and health systems can increase cultural competence, to reduce barriers to access

"Mater Refugee Health have been funded by Brisbane South PHN for the past 8 months to coordinate a health literacy project with refugee background communities around Brisbane, with a focus on navigating the health system" Deka said.

"Topics are based on what community members have requested via trust built with the Mater Refugee Health Advisory group (known as the “G11”), and have included information about diabetes, mental wellbeing, women's health issues, and more recently information about COVID-19 and the vaccine.

"The way the workshops are delivered is in partnership with Refugee Health Advisory Group members so they are able to co-design and tailor the programs based on what members of the community have asked for and delivered in a way and venue that works for the community, so they are very positively received.”

Deka said working with the Refugee Health Network is a very rewarding experience and she has enjoyed attending the programs and seeing the positive reception from the communities.

Some of the partners who have supported the project are True Relationships, focusing on reproductive health, Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT) and Diabetes Queensland.

"I think Refugee Week is an important celebration as people from refugee backgrounds have so much to offer their community; culture, cuisine, skills and knowledge,” Deka said.

To find out more about the Refugee Health Network Queensland please visit,

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