Siri is passionate about increasing engagement of marginalised and harder to find groups in the community with local services and government. For the last 15 years Siri has specialised in community development with migrant and refugee communities. At CEH Siri coordinates training courses for organisations in cultural competence and health literacy.  

In 2014 I was asked to attend the pilot of a new health literacy course run at CEH.  I was a bit skeptical as I had just returned to the office after a year’s maternity leave and had no idea what I was getting into.

I soon changed my mind when I saw how making improvements in health literacy can reduce barriers for migrants and refugees and other marginalised clients to get the care they need. 

Since then I can’t help but look at any interaction I have with services from a health literacy lens. Asking the question could this be done in a simpler and clearer way for the public?

Why did CEH get involved in health literacy?

Our former manager Michal Morris and the team saw the emergence of health literacy in the US and the potential to benefit migrants and refugees in addition to the cultural competence work we do.

She went on a study tour of the US and brought back a leading academic Sharon Barrett with her to help us develop our first health literacy course aimed at getting organisation to make improvements.

Thanks to our partners (mostly Primary Care Partnerships) we have been able to roll out this course to many workers across Victoria and now we have an on-line version of this course.

It has been so rewarding to see organisations apply health literacy strategies to their work and make positive changes for clients in documents and procedures while completing the course.

Photo: CEH Training team and the graduates of the first on-line health literacy course.

What is health literacy all about?

When I think about health literacy I think about my parents.  They are well educated and skilled in all the things they need to do in their lives.  However, now in their 70’s they are entering a new phase of life with health issues and need to deal with a complex health system, which leaves them confused.

Health literacy is about the skills and knowledge that people need to understand and make decisions about their lives.

Organisations need to make it easier for people to find and use their services so they get better outcomes.

For more information on Health literacy 

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Resource hub

Free webinar recordings

Health literacy course