By Julie Owens

17 August 2021

Last week the ABC reported that official COVID health information for multicultural communities was almost two months out of date.

On 12 August, translations published on the Federal Government’s Department of Health website still stated that AstraZeneca was the preferred vaccine for Australians over 50 – medical advice that changed back in June.

The Arabic translation didn’t mention the crucial advice that all adults in Greater Sydney should get the vaccine, whether AstraZeneca or Pfizer.

This isn’t the first time multicultural communities have been given confusing or misleading information about coronavirus. Last year the Department of Health was caught using Google Translate for critical public health information, with “nonsensical” results.

The Department of Health updated the translated information within hours of the ABC story being published, which begs the question – why didn’t they just update the translations every time the health advice changed?

Everyone deserves to be safe, and to be provided with timely, accessible and accurate public health information. When the government fails to get this information out in other languages our culturally and linguistically diverse communities get left behind.

The consequences for multicultural places like Western Sydney are obvious. We’re home to most of the ‘local government areas of concern’ and case numbers are still rising.

Most Western Sydney residents weren’t old enough to be eligible to get vaccinated until lockdown started and the rules changed. Now many of us are relying on outdated information to make decisions about whether or not to get vaccinated. Unsurprisingly, Western Sydney has some of the lowest vaccination rates in NSW and most of us are still completely unvaccinated.

The Morrison Government’s repeated failure to communicate coronavirus information to culturally and linguistically diverse communities is part of a pattern.

In the 7th week of lockdown, my office is still taking calls from people trying to work out if they can claim support payments because there have been so many changes. And the Prime Minister’s failure to communicate clear information about vaccines has left many in the community confused and contributed to a concerning rise in vaccine hesitancy.

Put simply, the coronavirus information we’re receiving from this government is not up to standard.

Labor has been calling on the Morrison Government to engage community leaders and improve coronavirus information for CALD communities since the beginning of the pandemic.

More than a year later our CALD communities are still being left behind.