Multicultural Health Week in NSW kicks off on September 7th until September 11th this year. The theme is Health Literacy and Safe Use of Medicines, raising awareness of the importance of language and culture in health services as well as providing an opportunity to raise awareness of health issues facing multicultural communities.

Health literacy is vitally important, as low levels are associated with poorer health outcomes – especially in terms of nutrition. Good nutrition plays a role in reducing the need for medicines and supporting a healthy mind, heart and body. Around 60% of the general Australian population have lower than adequate levels of health literacy (ABS, 2006). Lower still, are the health literacy levels of those in CALD communities.

Health literacy does not only refer to the individual’s ability to navigate healthcare, but also the permissibility of the healthcare environment. Health is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and that’s why NA NSW is passionate about tailoring programs and resources to the community we are serving. Ensuring we are guided in their culture and needs, and liaising with members from the community and/or Dietitians and health professionals who represent the community. This year, NANSW has developed a range of resources to improve nutrition literacy in line with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

Health and nutrition needs be accessible to all Australians. Multicultural Health Week is an inspiration to all health organisations to work towards improving health literacy across all communities.

Barbara ward | NANSW President



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