The Royal Melbourne Hospital is one of four health services to receive funding in the inaugural round of the Department of Health and Human Services Language Services Innovation Grants program.
“Victorians come from more than 200 countries, follow more than 130 different faiths and nearly a quarter of the community speak a language other than English,” said Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Robin Scott.
The program will help healthcare workers deliver innovative interpreting services and provide high quality care to better meet the needs of non-English speaking patients from multicultural communities.
Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy said, “We are making sure Victoria’s culturally diverse communities can access the high quality and safe care they need and deserve, when they need it.”
The RMH received funding for the project ‘Improving access to professional interpreters using videoconferencing’, which aims to embed videoconferencing as a standard means for patients, particularly refugees and immigrants living in rural Victoria, to access interpreters.
The project comes off the back of research published in the Australian Health Review in 2015 by Dr Thomas Schulz, Infectious Diseases Physician at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, which showed that patients preferred accessing interpreters via video conferencing rather than telephone conferencing.
“With over 50 per cent of our patients born overseas and over 100 community languages other than English spoken by our patients, there is a huge demand for interpreting services at The Royal Melbourne Hospital,” said Dr Schulz.
“This funding will enable us to improve access to interpreting services for our patients and the quality of the care they receive.”
Mrs Pashakis has been a patient at RMH for the past 10 years and more recently required regular visits to the hospital for treatment. Her visits would not have been as smooth if she did not have the assistance of a Greek interpreter.
L-R: Mrs Pashakis, Dr Thomas Schulz, The Hon. Jill Hennessy and Prof Christine Kilpatrick during the announcement of the DHHS Language Services Innovation Grants.