Hub helping everyone get vaxed

September 2, 2021 BY

Vaccine: Eh Joo of the Bendigo Karen community, receives her COVID-19 jab from vaccination nurse Elizabeth Bell at the Bendigo Multicultural Vaccination Hub on Saturday. Photo: BRENDAN McCARTHY

LODDON Campaspe Multicultural Services and Bendigo Health have teamed up to help people from diverse backgrounds get vaccinated in a culturally safe way.

The Bendigo Multicultural Vaccination Hub, funded by the State Government, has run every Saturday afternoon for the past four weeks, with over 165 participants so far.

Chief executive officer of LCMS Sonia Di Mezza said she noticed there was some vaccine hesitancy among multicultural groups when the rollout began.

“There were a lot of questions and that was kind of contributing to vaccination hesitancy, if you want people to get vaccinated the best thing to do is to give them information,” she said.

“We don’t tell people get vaccinated, we give them information in a culturally safe and understandable way, in language if needed, so they can understand what the vaccination is about and make their own decisions.

“That’s very important, we don’t tell people to take it we give them the information so they can make a decision.”

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, LCMS has worked to provide information in a number of languages, including Karen, Dari, Hazaragi and Dinka.

“We’re not translators, but the government has been issuing a lot of information in those languages so we’ve been able to disseminate it,” Ms Di Mezza said.

“The government has put a lot of effort and resources into funding translations and what LCMS has done is we have created a number of in-language videos which we’ve put on our social media.”

The videos are designed to help explain lockdowns and restrictions and LCMS staff also documented themselves getting vaccinated and explaining their reasons in doing so.

“If they see us getting vaccinated and giving information, they’re more likely to trust that information and more likely to decide to get vaccinated,” she said.

“I think that is more likely to happen than if some person they didn’t know were to give them information, they might be less likely to trust that.”

Business administration trainee at LCMS Maha Sein said it’s important that information for people from multicultural communities comes from people they trust, as news about the pandemic can be hard to understand.

“We did a lot of filming just to get that trust from community members,” he said.

“From then we can work together so I think it’s very important to gain that trust through doing those videos and sending the message out to them, so they don’t get a different kind of message.”

Ms Di Mezza said multicultural communities can be at a higher risk of COVID-19 due to language and cultural barriers, as evidenced by the outbreak in south-west Sydney and parts of Victoria, and working alongside the communities is key.

“You can’t just give people translated information and think that’s enough, it’s important but it’s not enough,” she said.

“Sometimes people might struggle with literacy in their own language, sometimes the language might be too formal for how they speak the language and not everyone reads these publications so it’s really important to be able to communicate.

“The best way to give information is always face-to-face.”

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