'Community navigators': making a difference by promoting health in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in Logan, Queensland

Saras Henderson, Elizabeth Kendall
Australian Journal of Primary Health 2011, 17 (4): 347-54
A key component of the 2011 Australian National Health Reform, via the Access and Equity Policy, is to improve access to quality health services for all Australians including CALD communities. Awareness has been raised that certain CALD communities in Australia experience limited access to health care and services, resulting in poor health outcomes. To address this issue, the Community Navigator Model was developed and implemented in four CALD communities in Logan, Queensland, through a partnership between government and non-government organisations. The model draws on local natural leaders selected by community members who then act as a conduit between the community and health service providers. Nine 'navigators' were selected from communities with low service access including the Sudanese, Burmese, Afghan and Pacific Islander communities. The navigators were trained and employed at one of two local non-government organisations. The navigators' role included assessing client needs, facilitating health promotion, supporting community members to access health services, supporting general practitioners (GPs) to use interpreters and making referrals to health services. This paper explores the 'lived experience' of the navigators using a phenomenological approach. The findings revealed three common themes, namely: (1) commitment to an altruistic attitude of servility allowing limitless community access to their services; (2) becoming knowledge brokers, with a focus on the social determinants of health; and (3) 'walking the walk' to build capacity and achieving health outcomes for the community. These themes revealed the extent to which the role of CALD community navigators has the potential to make a difference to health equity in these communities, thus contributing to the Australian National Health Reform.

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