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Guide for healthcare professionals working with interpreters

The Competency Standards Framework is the recommended standards for clinicians working in healthcare settings. Delivering quality care to people from migrant and refugee backgrounds requires health professionals to adopt culturally responsive practices and communication skills to work effectively with this group of people.

The Migrant Women’s Health Partnership (MRWHP) brings together consultation groups, with the goal of developing a policy framework and specific strategies to improve the health outcomes for women from migrant communities.

In response to Australia’s cultural diversity and changing demographics, the MRWHP has been tasked with designing strategies to support health care systems and to ensure women from migrant communities have equal access to health services.

The Framework informs the development of clinical education, training, professional development curricula and competency standards for clinicians. The Framework is intended to be flexible and is designed to apply across a range of healthcare settings and across a range of curricula and competency standards models.

NAATI CEO, Mark Painting, contributed to the Effective Communication and Interpreting Standards Sub-Working Group. This group supports the Partnership in developing good practice minimum standards for effective communication with patients and consumers from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Why is there a problem?

There is a need to address evidence of inequality. Although women can have varying health history before settlement, there is a significant decrease in the average health of all migrant women in the years after arriving in Australia.  

Migrant women generally arrive in Australia with good health, which contrasts to the experience of refugee women. Prior to arriving in Australia, refugees may be suffering from the impacts of traumatic events, loss, hardship, or a lack of access to health care.   

The overall decline in the health of migrant women in the years after migration shows there is opportunity to improve access to health care and health outcomes. This positive impact flows-on to the wider community. 

The Competency Standards Framework, Culturally responsive clinical practice: Working with patients from migrant and refugee backgrounds was released in January 2019. This is accompanied by the Guide for clinicians working with interpreters in healthcare settings.

Feedback on the Consultation Draft

Feedback was welcomed from communities, networks, and interested parties, on all sections of the consultation draft; working with interpreters, the wider framework, the explanatory notes, and the glossary. 

Links and more information


Published: 08/08/2019