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Help improve health literacy of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers

Help improve health literacy of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers

Water Well Project volunteers presenting a session.

Help improve the health outcomes of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers by volunteering with non-profit health promotion charity, The Water Well Project (WWP).

WWP was founded in 2012 by the daughter of two Vietnamese refugees, Dr Linny Kimly Phuong with the aim of assisting refugees, migrants or asylum seekers with their health concerns by providing practical health information.

The project’s name is inspired by traditional communities where the water well was the central gathering place for the community to meet and talk. The idea is volunteers deliver the information at already established community groups.

Volunteers, usually doctors and nurses, work in pairs to deliver sessions themed on common health issues, such as healthy eating and exercise, sexual health, mental health, men’s and women’s health, and how to navigate the Australian healthcare system.

No individual advice or services are provided.

Nurse Emily (surname withheld) says that volunteering has enabled her to expand her knowledge and reinforce her nursing skills.

‘It’s great to reach people in their communities, knowing that [even] a little bit of information might be enough to help them access preventative screening, see a health professional or change a health behaviour – things that many of us with high levels of health literacy take for granted.’

Previous volunteer nurse Amanda Jennings says she delivered sessions on heart health, women’s health, incontinence and exercise, adding that volunteering is a great way for nurses and midwives to grow as a professional and build on their existing skills.

‘The participants are so engaged and keen to interact. They ask lots of great questions and are keen to learn as much as they can, especially about the health system here in Australia.’

‘It also gave me an insight into their community and some of the struggles they are facing when up against health services here. I can then use this experience when interacting with refugees in the workplace.’

The Water Well Project is holding online inductions for volunteers on Tuesday 5 September, 6.30-8.30pm.