New Government data released today reveals disproportionate COVID-19 mortality and prevalence rates recorded among Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse populations (CALD).
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows our nation has witnessed almost three times as many deaths from COVID-19 among those born overseas compared with those born locally (in Australia).
The ABS data shows those born in North Africa and the Middle East were 10 times more likely to succumb to COVID-19 than people born in Australia (accounting for age), while those from South-East Asia and Southern and Central Asia recorded double the number of COVID deaths.
In comparison, those born in the UK and Ireland experienced similar deaths rates to the Australian-born COVID cases.
Culturally and linguistically diverse populations (CALD) are reportedly at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and unwittingly, passing the virus on; are more likely to be living with an underlying chronic condition; and to be missing out on important health-related information which has not been translated into their mother tongue.
Advocacy groups are calling for the Federal Government to do more to help protect our vulnerable, multicultural populations from COVID-19.
According to an ABC interview today with Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia Chair, Ms Mary Patetsos, CALD Australians have proven more vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their substantial representation in various workplaces recording a high number of cases.
“They’ve been the drivers of the trucks, they’ve been the workers in aged care, the care workers, the workers in hospitals who have been, you know, at the frontline,” she explained.
Ms Patetsos maintained the government had failed to engage adequately in its public health messaging with CALD groups, which has subsequently, created an anomaly in the mortality and prevalence rates in these communities.
“The communication campaign should have targeted those communities, and should have alleviated any fears earlier, so that we had high vaccination rates quickly, because of those other factors that would have made [migrants] more vulnerable,” she said.
Fellow Australians will no doubt recall how last year’s Delta outbreak hit Sydney’s south-western community hard – a particularly high, OS-born, multicultural population – reinforcing the cultural and linguistic challenges of communicating with this population during a pandemic.
Head of the Federal Government’s CALD COVID-19 advisory task force has nonetheless hit back today, stating the Government has in fact, been working hard to engage with community leaders.
“We’ve done a lot of targeted, specific work with those communities, and they have shown incredible leadership in self-organising and working with both levels of government to manage cases, but also to improve vaccination rates,” Dr De Toca explained.
Putting rhetoric aside, clearly much more must be done to help curb the disproportionate number of COVID-19 infections afflicting our precious Australian CALD communities.
For some quick pointers on how best to communicate with CALD communities, please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org