Bendigo’s Karen community will have improved access to the public healthcare system thanks to Bendigo Health’s two new in-house interpreters.

Funded through the State Government’s $405 million investment in Bendigo Health for 2019-20, Karen interpreters Sei Sei and Moo Wah will help service a growing refugee population in Bendigo.

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said the interpreters’ role was to provide a cultural link between the Karen community and the public healthcare system.

“The majority of the refugee population have experienced some kind of trauma in the past and are cautious with institutions,” she said.

“Sei Sei and Moo Wah’s roles will help build that trust and encourage the 2500-strong Karen community to use the public healthcare system in Bendigo.”

Bendigo Health board chair Bob Cameron said the interpreters were one example of how the hospital was catering for the refugee community.

“Our Karen dental assistants have improved the uptake of our public dental service and we’re in the middle of a maternity study to understand the cultural birthing preferences of Karen women,” he said.

Bendigo Health averaged about 300 interpreter service bookings a month before the interpreters began last month, 170 of which were Karen. Other interpreter requests were Auslan, Dari, Dinka and Mandarin.

The interpreters work across all areas of Bendigo Health, from inpatient wards to outpatient clinics and do a reminder call to Karen patients before appointments to ensure none are missed.

Posted by:Maree Edwards MP