Specialist statewide multicultural and refugee health services develop and implement initiatives across NSW to increase the capacity of the health system and provide targeted services. Depending on the service, they provide training for health staff, policy advice, as well as assessment and treatment for consumers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Services are hosted by local health districts.

The Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS) works with and for culturally and linguistically diverse communities and health services in NSW to reduce the health and social impact of HIV and viral hepatitis. MHAHS implements a range of HIV and viral hepatitis initiatives with and for culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including a clinical support service. The MHAHS is hosted by Sydney Local Health District.

The GambleAware Multicultural Service (GAMS) is a statewide service that assists problem gamblers from culturally and linguistically diverse communities living in NSW and their families. It provides assistance directly by providing quality and accessible counselling, treatment and support services in languages other than English when the local provider cannot do so; and indirect assistance by providing assessment, support and education to mainstream GambleAware Providers across the state. Financial assistance is provided by the NSW Government Office of Responsible Gambling. The GAMS is a joint initiative of Multicultural NSW and the Western Sydney Local Health District.

NSW Health Care Interpreter Services (HCIS) operate across NSW, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They provide onsite and phone interpreting services in over 120 languages including Auslan for people who are Deaf. The five HCIS are hosted by South Western Sydney, Western Sydney, Sydney, Hunter New England and Illawarra Local Health Districts.

The NSW Education Program on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)aims to prevent the practice of FGM in NSW and minimise the health and psychological impact of the practice on women, girls and their families. The NSW Education Program on FGM is hosted by Western Sydney Local Health District.

The Health Literacy Hub hosts the best and most trusted online health literacy resources. Its aim is to make it easier for consumers to find and understand health-related information, to be able to make the best decisions about their health. For health professionals, the Hub provides access to resources on health literacy and practical tools to aid communication with patients and the public. The Hub is an initiative of Western Sydney Local Health District in collaboration with the University of Sydney.

The Cultural Equity portfolio of the NSW Education Centre Against Violence (ECAV) provides training related to domestic violence and sexual assault for NSW Health and interagency staff working with clients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Training is provided in partnership with the NSW Refugee Health Service, Health Care Interpreter Services and Bilingual Community Educator Programs. ECAV is hosted by Western Sydney Local Health District.

The NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service (MHCS) provides culturally appropriate health information and communication initiatives for culturally and linguistically diverse communities. MHCS’s services include advice on multilingual health communication initiatives, a translation service, media advice, research and the production and distribution of multilingual resources. The MHCS website hosts multilingual health information resources in over 50 languages. The MHCS is hosted by South Eastern Sydney Local Health District.

The NSW Refugee Health Service (RHS) aims to protect and promote the health of refugees and other people from refugee-like backgrounds who live in NSW. It provides clinical services across local health districts in metropolitan Sydney and has a statewide role in policy, training, research, advocacy and reporting. The RHS provides:

  • nurse-led health assessments for newly arrived refugees, including school children
  • medical assessments through GP clinics for community-based asylum seekers
  • an early childhood nurse program
  • a dietetics clinic for young people aged 6 to 18 years from a refugee background
  • support to refugee arrivals with a disability or other complex health needs
  • training and education for health professionals working with refugees
  • health education programs for refugees.

The RHS is hosted by South Western Sydney Local Health District.

The Transcultural Mental Health Centre (TMHC)works with health professionals and communities across NSW to support positive mental health for people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. The TMHC works in partnership with mental health services to support, build capacity and complement their work. The TMHC also works with multicultural, ethno-specific and community agencies to reduce stigma related to mental illness and enhance mental health literacy and knowledge about pathways to care for culturally and linguistically diverse community members. The TMHC is hosted by Western Sydney Local Health District.

The Mental Health Branch in the Ministry of Health has supported the launch of Australia’s first Transcultural Mental Health Line, which is a telephone service available to support people who live in NSW and who are from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. It is available Monday to Friday between 9.00 am and 4:30pm. It is run by the TMHC and is staffed by registered bilingual mental health professionals who can provide mental health support in up to 30 languages. It is not a crisis service, but acts as a bridge between individuals and culturally appropriate and responsive mental health services.


The Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) has developed an interactive guide for delivering healthcare to refugee communities in regional NSW. Aimed at healthcare workers and their community partners, the guide discusses how to establish trauma-informed and culturally-safe health services for refugee communities in regional NSW.

The ACI has also developed a Consumer Enablement guide for clinicians assisting people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including refugees. And it is supporting the ongoing adoption and implementation of innovative virtual care services across NSW, including resources for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

The Bureau of Health Information supports participation by people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in the NSW Patient Survey Program. Information about the survey has been translated into community languages and the Bureau engages the HNELHD Health Care Interpreter Service to assist people to participate in the survey.

The Cancer Institute NSW has a Multicultural Equity Framework [PDF] to guide and support the Institute to identify and address the needs of multicultural communities and improve cancer outcomes. The Institute has expanded its patient information multilingual portal which includes information on diagnosis and cancer treatment. Through easy-to-understand, text, video and audio content, the portal helps multicultural communities access in-language information. The Institute also recently developed a new community education cancer prevention flipchart Staying well and preventing cancer and a facilitator’s guide. The focus of the resources is to reduce the risk of cancer by building health literacy about healthy living behaviour and is now freely available in 15 community languages.

A key outcome identified in the NSW Plan for Healthy Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities 2019-2023 is that NSW Health supports people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to build their health literacy so they can be actively involved in decisions about their health. The Clinical Excellence Commission has developed a Health Literacy Framework to improve health literacy across the whole health system.

Health Education and Training (HETI) has a number of online courses and videos for NSW Health staff related to multicultural and refugee health, including:

Affiliated health organisations

Affiliated health organisations are private benevolent institutions that provide health services. They are supported by NSW Health and are recognised as public hospitals or public health service providers for legal purposes.

The NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) aims to assist refugees and people from refugee-like backgrounds recover from their experiences of torture and/or trauma and build a new life in Australia. The service provides:

  • counselling
  • group therapy
  • group activities and outings
  • camps and groups for children and young people
  • community development and health promotion
  • training for health professionals working with refugees
  • policy advice and research on the specific needs of refugees.

STARTTS was established by and receives core funding from NSW Health. It is headquartered in South Western Sydney Local Health District.​

Current as at: Friday 31 March 2023