We recently caught up with Jean, a Health Promotion Coordinator at North Richmond Community Health and graduate of CEH’s Health Literacy Course. Jean knew that the residents of the North Richmond housing estate, who are the target group for her health promotion programs, often face several barriers to participation. These barriers could include linguistic and cultural differences, lack of awareness of the programs, limited access to information, and in some cases, mobility issues.

Recognising the need to help the community overcome these barriers, Jean puts into practice the skills and principles she learnt in the CEH Health Literacy Course every day. Read on for some of Jean’s biggest challenges in engaging the community, and how she is working to overcome them.

Getting the message across

Plain language is essential for effective communication. When health information is presented in plain language, it is easier for people to understand. This is particularly important when dealing with diverse communities where English may not be the first language for many residents. Plain language helps ensure that health messages are clear, concise, and easily comprehensible, improving the chances that residents will engage with and act upon the information provided.

Resonating with the community

While plain language is important, Jean involves community members in the design and delivery of health promotion initiatives, to better understand the cultural context and tailor to the community. By taking a holistic approach, we increase the likelihood of our messages resonating with the community and leading to positive health outcomes. Actively participating in the community can provide the understanding and respect for the diverse cultures within the community that is crucial for tailoring materials and activities to be culturally sensitive and relevant.

Some examples of how Jean engages with the community are:

  1. Actively participating in local events and community gatherings to establish a presence and build relationships with residents.
  2. Working closely with community leaders and influencers to help gain trust and effectively convey health messages.
  3. Using social media and local communication channels helps reach a wider audience, ensuring that messages are disseminated through platforms that are commonly used by the community.

Increasing community engagement

Jean and her team regularly consult with the community to help make sure that the work that they do remains grounded in community need, and that the community is involved in the design process as equal collaborators. For example, Jean created a script which she used when approaching the 2023 Homework Group, asking them to visualise and draw how they wanted the Homework Group to look in 2024. Visualisation and pictures was a fun way to get the children’s ideas, and encouraged engagement, rather than simply asking questions and recording their answers.

Our Health Literacy Course can equip you with skills to better engage with your audiences. For further information visit this page, or email us at ceh_training@nrch.com.au.

Until next time,

Tristan and the Training Team