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A new approach to health and safety messaging in migrant communities

Source: supplied

The coronavirus pandemic is highlighting the need for improvement in the way public health and safety messages are communicated to people from all language and cultural backgrounds. So a refugee settlement service in South Australia has collaborated with The University of Adelaide to develop a ground-breaking new approach.

This approach turns normal heath and safety messaging upside-down. Instead, it asks new arrivals what safety concerns they have and uses their experiences to create a campaign. The series uses humour and cultural references to assist in communicating important safety information.

Professor Scott Hanson-Easey, from the University of Adelaide, developed the model with the Australian Refugee Association.

He says this approach could be used to address what he describes as a failure of government health and safety messaging to reach all Australians.

“People like to see their own culture represented and speaking to them and when that happens people listen and feel respected and people often take the information and use the information to be safer. Which keeps their attention, it allows them to want to want to watch the films and receive the information that can help them navigate through some very tricky and sometimes complex systems that we have in Australia. As we've seen over the last year or so, when that’s not done properly, and communities aren’t working together with government or with other agencies, things go particularly wrong."

The Fire Service says there is no statistical data to show refugee communities are more at risk.

“But we certainly do know that their awareness of home fire safety is lower than the average population, just because they haven’t received the education.”

Click this audio button to listen to Ms Kaur's full interview in Punjabi. 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 meters away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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