The NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, and NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, spoke to multicultural communities today about the current state lockdown, the vaccination rollout and how the government can better tailor its COVID-19 messaging.
Dr Chant opened up the digital meeting by firstly thanking multicultural communities across the state for adhering to the current lockdown restrictions, but stressed that more needed to be done to stop people from visiting family and different households.
“We have a number of cases where people are visiting family and not understanding the need to stay away unless absolutely necessary,” Dr Chant stressed.
“For the lockdown to have an effect, we need multicultural communities to be with us on the journey… and we need people to stop mingling.”
Dr Chant went on to say that vaccinations are another line of defence in the state’s emergence from lockdown and described how some general practitioners are now able to give the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines to the elderly. Mobile vaccination units are also available.
“We need to get the community vaccinated… and we need strong compliance to stop the virus from being transmitted,” Dr Chant said.
Getting the message across:
To stress this message more effectively to multicultural communities, the NSW Chief Health Officer explained that now is the time to “re-engage” and tailor COVID-19 information through government departments such as Multicultural NSW.
An attendee from the media then asked why they weren’t getting enough of this information in the first place to pass on to their audiences.
The NSW Health Minister answered and said that if departments such as Multicultural NSW weren’t getting COVID-19 messages across effectively, “we will contact them and make sure they’re doing it better.”
Mr Hazzard then went on to ask everyone in attendance what specific messages they believed would resonate with multicultural communities and “how best we can do that.”
A number of responses filtered through including reaching out to multicultural newspapers, radio stations and community groups, creating social videos for the elderly, giving local police a bigger role and even reaching out to political and religious leaders in the community.
‘Effective communication is vital’:
In response, the Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism, Small Business and Property, Steve Kamper MP, issued a statement this afternoon stating that “the NSW Government has rallied to play catch up in communicating COVID health and safety information in languages other than English, and in particular to South Western Sydney residents.”
“COVID safety resources have been prepared in many languages, but they have not been communicated through to the people who need them,” Mr Kamper said.
“Older people who don’t have good English and may not be skilled at using the Internet have been finding it particularly difficult to get information they can understand.”
The Shadow Minister goes on to say, however, that it is still good to see the NSW Government taking the time today to talk with multicultural communities.
“It is good to see that the Government are finally taking urgent steps today to enlist the multicultural newspapers, radio stations and community groups, as well as asking younger members of our multicultural communities to share information across their social media networks,” he said.
“This is a difficult time and effective communication with all our community groups is vital to managing this highly infectious COVID-19 Delta-variant outbreak.”