Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) students at MP identified health as a sector they wanted to move into, a major growth industry in Whittlesea. MP and NH responded by using a co-design and co-delivery model to inform student language and skill development through a health navigator elective course. Students were also able to share their experiences of accessing health and the sector listened to those barriers to inform service provision. At the same time COVID19 was having a significant impact on community. Whittlesea had a vaccination rate lower than the average for the Victorian population. As at 31 December 2021 the City of Whittlesea ranked 14th out of Victorian
LGAs, with an active case rate of 510 cases per 100,000 residents. This comprised approximately 4% of the state’s new daily COVID-19 cases. Data also showed that women, young people, refugee and asylum seeker communities and international students were most adversely impacted by the
COVID19 pandemic. Response to multicultural communities during coronavirus Phase 2 funding (MASC) enabled the Bi-Cultural Health Navigator project to be established.
WCC provided on-going mentoring support to help navigators address unspoken barriers working in an Australian work place. This was particularly important where this role was the first employment experience in Australia. The Bi-Cultural Health Navigator role gives participants much needed Australian work experience and a strong platform to explore further pathways.
As a result, more than 38 information sessions were delivered to 450 people in different community languages including Arabic, Assyrian Chaldean, Farsi, Persian, Urdu, Hindi, Indonesian and Malay. Vaxchat sessions, Facebook posts, WhatsApp groups further promoted COVID19 information in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways. At least thirty COVID19 vaccination popup clinics were supported by Health Navigators across CoW, including primary schools and secondary colleges, Lalor Muslim Women’s services, Mill Park Baptist Church, Libraries and several community centers such as Bundoora, Doreen, Epping, Lalor, Thomastown and Wollert. At the end of 2022 financial year, the City of Whittlesea with the help of Bi-Cultural Health Navigators, coordinated COVID19 information and support booths across the municipality. In addition to supporting the community with COVID19 needs and issues, Bi-Cultural Health Navigators have supported community members to access other support including financial, food, material aid and casework.