A new report highlights the importance of supporting people from Victoria's many multicultural backgrounds to make informed healthcare choices.
Minister for Ageing David Davis today at Parliament House launched the Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria's (ECCV) report An Investment Not an Expense: Enhancing Health Literacy in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities.
"The Victorian Government is committed to empowering people to maintain their health, and to make informed choices about the most appropriate healthcare for their needs," Mr Davis said.
"Improving health literacy is central to this commitment.
"More than simply ensuring that people can read and understand basic health information, health literacy is about building competence in decision-making, and the ability to critically analyse and use health information."
The ECCV and its member organisations are advocates for Victoria's multicultural communities. The report investigates barriers to achieving better health literacy outcomes for Victorians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Mr Davis said the report is an important contribution to improving health literacy, and will inform further research and policy development to achieve better health outcomes for multicultural communities in Victoria.
"The Victorian Coalition Government recognises that improving the health literacy of Victorians is fundamental to better health outcomes for the population, and improves access to a range of programs to help maintain good health," Mr Davis said.
"We know that lower levels of health literacy among culturally and linguistically diverse communities lead to poorer health outcomes.
"Lower levels of health literacy among theses communities are a result of language and literacy barriers, different cultural perceptions of illness and health care, unfamiliarity with the Australian health system and the challenges of resettlement."
In 2006, 59 per cent of Australian adults were identified as having a low health literacy level.
Mr Davis said the Victorian Government is actively working to improve health outcomes for communities from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
"We are promoting a stronger whole-of-organisation approach to cultural responsiveness by health services through The Cultural Responsiveness Framework – Guidelines for Victorian Health Services," Mr Davis said.
"We are actively working to improve health outcomes for communities from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
"This includes the Health Interpreters Initiative to provide training for interpreters to specialise in health care, an additional $1 million a year over four years for language services in health services, and the Participation for CALD Seniors grants program to facilitate greater social participation of isolated seniors in the community."