Editor's note

According to the last census, nearly half of Australians were born overseas, or have at least one parent born overseas. The culturally and linguistically diverse groups that make up our population add much to the fabric of Australian society.

Our culture affects the food we eat, the festivals we celebrate, and many other aspects of our day-to-day lives. Importantly, it also has a huge impact on our health.

For one month each year, observing Ramadan influences the way many Muslim people with type 2 diabetes manage their condition. Many people from non-Western backgrounds might place value on traditional medicines in looking after their health and well-being. Aboriginal understandings of health and wellness, too, differ from Western biomedical models. The differences between us even show up in our biology – where we come from plays a part in determining our blood types.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve brought you a series of articles looking at the intersection between culture and health. Where the health outcomes of some of Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse groups aren’t as good as the overall population, we think it’s important to ask why this is, and how health services in Australia could be more culturally responsive. Of course, we can’t offer all the answers – but we hope you might enjoy a few of these articles.

Phoebe Roth

Assistant Editor, Health+Medicine

Many Muslim Australians currently live with diabetes. From shutterstock.com

Between health and faith: managing type 2 diabetes during Ramadan

Sue Lynn Lau, Western Sydney University; Ahmed Hussein, Western Sydney University

The holy month of Ramadan can present a challenge for Muslim people with type 2 diabetes who want to fast but can't necessarily do so safely.

Australia is a multicultural society, and our health services need to be designed accordingly. From shutterstock.com

Our culture affects the way we look after ourselves. It should shape the health care we receive, too

Sabrina Gupta, La Trobe University; Clarice Tang, Western Sydney University

By working together with culturally and linguistically diverse groups, health services can position themselves to deliver culturally responsive care to our multicultural population.

Australia’s first Aboriginal Brain Injury Coordinator, Rebecca Clinch, with brain injury survivor Justin Kickett. Edith Cowan University

Aboriginal Australians want care after brain injury. But it must consider their cultural needs

Beth Armstrong, Edith Cowan University; Juli Coffin, Telethon Kids Institute

The absence of Indigenous Australians in rehabilitation services has created the belief they don't want therapy. The reality is they want services which better meet their cultural needs.

About one in three people living in Australia were born overseas. From shutterstock.com

Australia’s ethnic face is changing, and so are our blood types

Tanya Davison, Swinburne University of Technology; James Daly, Queensland University of Technology; Robert Flower, University of Sydney

Australia is a cultural melting pot, but our blood donors are less diverse. We need a broad mix of ethnicities in our donor pool to meet the needs of patients with rare blood types.

Interpreters enable patients to be fully informed about their health condition and options for treatment. From shutterstock.com

Nearly 1 in 4 of us aren’t native English speakers. In a health-care setting, interpreters are essential

Sarah Verdon, Charles Sturt University

Interpreters are essential in providing ethical and high quality health care to Australia's culturally and linguistically diverse population.

Traditional Chinese herbal remedies are today used in many countries. From shutterstock.com

Traditional medicines must be integrated into health care for culturally diverse groups

Josephine Agu, University of Technology Sydney

From herbal remedies to acupuncture, traditional therapies are valued particularly by ethnically diverse groups.


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