Director's message


Hello everyone and welcome to the first issue of Polyglot for 2017 - a new and better version as we move from print to e-mail and on-line distribution to bring you more health communication news and campaigns at your fingertips. This new Polyglot has a new layout and we’ll be showcasing regular features on translations, events and other facets of the multicultural environment we are all a part of. And oh, we are also featuring healthy and tasty recipes from different cuisines so watch out for those!

This year, MHCS is looking into new and more creative areas of communication such as digital production, video and on-line materials. The social media platform is proven to be very successful in delivering health messages to multicultural communities. The translation service is growing and becoming more efficient, we are now undertaking translations from the Pillars, hospitals, population health and many more.

This year we are embarking on the process of developing our Strategic Plan for the next 4 years. As part of this, we are consulting with the Pillars, LHDs, and multicultural networks across NSW, the Ministry and community and state wide organisations. The next four years will see MHCS working on collaborative projects with key health providers. This is an exciting time for us as we head to more innovative approaches in project and campaign management.

Late last year, we have officially handed over the Pink Sari Project to the Committee of the Pink Sari Inc. And while this chapter is finished, we are continuously working with Cancer Institute to increase breast screening rates, this year working with the Italian community on the 10,000 Italian Roses Project.

Our ongoing projects include new videos and resources for the Organ and Tissue Donation Multicultural Campaign. Check out the feature in this issue, on how creative arts can be used to promote health related programs like ‘Life Giving Stories’, which helped increased registration rates for non-English speaking backgrounds, from 6% to 21% over the past year.

We are also working continuously with the Heart Foundation to reach Chinese and Arabic communities, as well as campaigns to raise awareness on FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). Our Media Manager Jesusa Helaratne attended the National Forum on FGM last week in Melbourne. More about this campaign and insights from the conference in this issue.

This year we are also holding our Multicultural Health Communication Awards. Your team’s project can be one the winners so read on to find out how you can send in your nominations.

And, one of the highlights in 2017 for us is the celebration of 20 years of the Multicultural Health Communication Service. It's promising to be an exciting year, and we are more than grateful for your continuous and generous support as our ultimate partners in our mission, to bridge positive health outcomes within culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Best wishes

Feature :  Why the arts can be a powerful messenger for health-related issues

Senior Consultant for MHCS Kevin Bathman shares his experience curating health events using the arts framework.


I recently came across a short film called Mother.Child, about an older mother and adult son who face physical and psychological challenges after an unexpected stroke forces them to live together. Based on the true story of writer/director Tin Pang’s experience as a stroke carer, the film celebrates the incredible bond between a son and his mother after she suffers a stroke.

The film crew had worked closely with some of Australia’s leading stroke and acquired brain injury organisations, including the National Stroke Foundation, Stroke Recovery Association of NSW, Brain Injury Australia, Synapse and Stroke Association of Victoria to develop the short film. What I loved about this project was the deliberate act of the filmmaker, who tied the cause so closely to the film.

Artists and creatives are natural communicators and storytellers. They are able to weave a compelling story, evoke understanding and tug the heartstrings much better than facts and figures.

In June last year, NSW Health took a bold move to integrate the arts into the NSW healthcare system as a whole – this involved providing healthcare differently, with the aim of keeping people healthy and out of hospital. The NSW Health and Arts framework enables the NSW Health system to maximize the benefits of art-integration into the design and delivery of health services and health messaging.

For the Pink Sari Melodies Project, we worked collaboratively with 9 singer/songwriters from Indian and Sri Lankan communities to write a song about the women in their lives, with the aim of bringing awareness to the issue of breast screening in the respective communities. It was well-received by the communities when a concert in Auburn Town Hall was held to showcase these songs.

The other project, Life Giving Stories was an inspiring live storytelling work bringing together five storytellers from various backgrounds to tell personal stories about their involvement in organ and tissue donation. We considered approaches like William Yang’s storytelling approach and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth; simple storytelling with powerful images. What makes it powerful is that these are stories about life-altering experiences from real people. It is never easy to talk or have a discussion about organ and tissue donation. Hence, we were looking for a way of telling these stories in a heartfelt and nuanced way. There is evidence indicating that sharing stories is therapeutic and cathartic for people who have gone through particular experiences.

The stories were enhanced by photographs from private collections, and for us, it always feels like such a privilege to be allowed a glimpse into people’s personal lives. It was a profoundly moving experience for the audience, but also an empowering one.

If you have not considered working with the arts sector on your campaigns, we would recommend you to give it a try - we dare say you’ll be surprised at the results!

To learn more about integrating arts into the design and delivery of health services, you can download the NSW Health and Arts Framework from the NSW Health website.

What's new with Translations?


Translation trends in 2017

We are only in the first quarter of 2017 and the bulk of translation requests from health organizations across NSW are already flowing in! But before we head into the second half of the year, here are some translation trends for 2017 and beyond.
Machine translations
While there is a huge demand for improvements in machine translations, it does not necessarily equate to a reduction in the requirement for human translations. While it may be worthwhile to use machine translations for simple large-scale projects, a human touch is still required to determine nuances, sort out synonyms and cultural and contextual references.

“Technology is here to stay, and it’s going to become more and more prevalent. Google Translate has a role: it can provide a very rough and overall sense. But it does not understand or distinguish certain phrases.” - Tony Guerra, Director Interpretation Services CETRA - a language solutions provider in the U,S,
In a recent "Human vs Artificial Intelligence Translation Challenge” organized in February this year by the International Interpretation and Translation Association (IITA) and Sejong University in Seoul, four translators and three machine translation programs tackled the same translation tasks. While the battle ended in a sweep win by the human translators, translation tech experts believe that machine-learning developments will still need a few more years to catch up to its human counterpart.

Video translations
Whether it is voice-over or subtitles, more and more organizations are using video over print publications as they ride on the wave of YouTube and other media outlets - 4.95 billion videos are viewed on YouTube every day, by 1.325 billion users! This is a significant factor in the increasing demand for Audio-visual translations which we see as a key trend for 2017. In some cases it might be more cost effective, but it is still wise to research whether your audience demographics prefer print content over other mediums of communication.
Long tail languages
With the surge of migration across the world, more and more languages which were unheard of previously are coming into the spotlight. These languages help us learn more about the diversity of cultures around NSW, plus it's a learning experience as it takes more work and effort to train and source translators. Language groups with a smaller number of speakers are adding to the colourful tapestry of multiculturalism in Australia.

App translations 
App translation will start to pick up in 2017 as we are seeing more organizations riding the wave of technology, social media and mobile devices. When NSW Health launched the "Save the date to vaccinate" app in 2013, it was a welcome convenience for young parents and opened up possibilities of using app technology for health resources. While there is still a wide gap in translated print and app health resources, we can see this trend picking up with costs of developing apps becoming less and usability becoming more acceptable.

Feature : What is FGM and why do we need to raise community understanding and awareness in NSW



MHCS Media Manager Jesusa Helaratne shares her thoughts on FGM awareness, after attending the National Educational Toolkit for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Awareness (NETFA) presents ‘Foundations for Change’ – A National Forum on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in Melbourne on the 24th March.

WHAT IS THE ISSUE? The issue is the harmful traditional practice of FGM that causes many deaths and life long harmful effects to girls and women in countries where this is practiced around the world. Female genital mutilation or FGM, also known as female circumcision refers to the practice of partial or complete removal or cutting of the external female genitalia. The procedure is most often performed on girls or young women. It is estimated that FGM affects 100-140 million women and girls worldwide, with approximately two million undergoing some form of genital mutilation annually. The NETFA Forum, organised by the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health in Melbourne, brought together international and national leading experts and speakers, taking international learnings and translating them into local solutions. Keynote speaker was Ms Amina Warsame, from the Network Against FGM/C in Somaliland (NAFIS), international women’s right activist and researcher.

WHAT I FOUND ENCOURAGING. The stories shared at the forum from empowering and courageous women were truly inspiring. Everyone is putting forward ideas and recommendations that could help stop FGM in Australia and around the world. The misconception that FGM is a practice done to intimidate daughters by their mothers/parents as abuse is not the case. When mothers take their daughters to be circumcised, they believe that this is the best thing that they can do for their daughters. They are not aware they are harming them. The goal of programs around Australia to stop FGM is to change behaviours and empower communities. In NSW, the Education Program on FGM’s mission is to minimise the health and psychological impact of the practice for women, girls and their families affected by, or at risk of, FGM.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR NON ENGLISH SPEAKING COMMUNITIES? Communities need to be aware that in Australia, it is against the law to circumcise a girl or woman. It is against the law to take a girl or woman overseas to circumcise her in another country. The sentence for breaking this law is jail for up to 21 years. The same punishment is due to the person who assists someone, or gets someone else to perform female circumcision. Many countries around the world now have laws against female circumcision. The mission continues for Australian communities and health workers to fight FGM and stop the practice across the country. Education programs for community members in their languages are important strategies needed to continue and stop FGM. Training to make service providers skilled and equipped are essential tools to deal with the sensitive issues faced by women and their families. Many Australian service providers are not aware of FGM and when faced with a patient who has undergone genital circumcision, it can cause some degree of shock and panic to the attending midwife or nurse. It is important for health professionals to be able to access key services who deal with FGM, access available health resources in language and use health care interpreters and translators to guarantee correct health information is relayed to the women and their families who present at hospitals.

WHERE TO FROM HERE? Empowerment of women was the overarching mantra at the NETFA Forum this 2017. Everyone at the forum agreed that all programs against FGM should work together to help end the the practice of FGM. Culturally and linguistically appropriate FGM campaigns must continue, to deliver the messages to targeted communities. MHCS is working in partnership with NSW Education Program on FGM in running the "Stop FGM in Your Generation" campaign, extending valuable messages through radio and social media networks. The strategy is to reach every member of the targeted communities, as well as empower the younger generation to step up and raise awareness on the issues surrounding genital mutilation.

International human rights advocate Amina Warsame encourages young women to speak up and let their voices be heard, to pave the way for the next generation. Watch the full interview here.

We encourage everyone to join us in raising awareness and understanding about FGM by sharing the campaign videos ‘Stop FGM in Your Generation’ YouTube videos here. "Dear mum" radio ads in language are also available in the MHCS web page.

MHCS will continue to coordinate media interviews with bilingual health workers, health and research experts with the targeted ethnic media to get the important messages across to communities in their language.

For more information and support call the NSW Education Program on FGM on (02) 9840 3910.


      Ongoing campaigns







FGM (Female Genital Mutilation)

10,000 Italian Roses

Stop FGM In Your Generation campaign, to raise awareness in the prevention and practice of FGM in NSW and to minimise the health and psychological impact of the practice for women, girls and their families affected by, or at risk of, FGM.


MHCS is working in partnership with the NSW Education Program on FGM (Female Genital Mutilation)  in running the ‘Stop FGM in Your Generation’ campaign which includes a media and communication plan to run radio ads, social media promotion, radio editorials and community service announcements targeting the Arabic, Amharic, Kurdish, Indonesian and Somali language groups.

The campaign is in partnership with creative agency Eardrum in developing the Dear Mum radio ads in the targeted community languages. The ads impart a moving and compelling dialogue, showcasing two daughters – one thanking her mom for not following tradition and one who was subjected to FGM.

 The Stop FGM In Your Generation campaign has been enriched by the support of SBS and community radio broadcasts around NSW in featuring this important issue on their programs.

To extend the reach of the messages through social media, Youtube videos were produced targetting Arabic, Egyptian, Ethiopian, Kurdish, Krio, Indonesian, Sudanese and Somali communities.                                   

Please see link to for the videos: Stop FGM In Your Generation

10,000 Italian Roses Project to address low breast screening rates among Italian women in NSW.


In NSW only 32% of women aged 50 – 74 from Italian backgrounds participate in breast screening – this means that 10,006 of 14,762 women in this group are not up to date with having their potentially life-saving mammogram.

MHCS is working with NSW Cancer Institute to reach women age 50 – 74 of Italian background, to help increase the rates of breast screening amongst this community.

"Following the success of the award-winning Pink Sari Project which resulted in a 17% increase in breast screening rates amongst women from Indian and Sri Lankan backgrounds, we are hoping to apply our learnings to the 10,000 Italian Roses campaign to also raise awareness about the importance of mammograms among Italian women”said Peter Todaro, Director of NSW MHCS.

MHCS is working closely with the Italian Association of Assistance (CoAsIt), Westmead Breast Cancer Institute & local BreastScreen services in the planning stages of this important new project.

Watch out for more updates about this project through our Facebook page and next issue of Polyglot.

For more information about this campaign, contact our Project Officer Nicole Stevens at or call 02 8753 5000.

Upcoming events: What's happening at MHCS?

9th Multicultural Health Awards

The NSW MHCS Awards program was established in 2003 by the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service (MHCS) for health staff and staff of health funded organisations including NGOs that produce multilingual health resources.

Nominations are now open for the 9th NSW Multicultural Health Communication Awards!  

If you have multilingual health resources published between the 1st January 2015 to 31st December 2016, you might qualify for an awards!

For guidelines on how to apply visit or email


MHCS celebrates 20 years!

On May 16th, 1997, the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service (MHCS) was officially launched to help culturally and linguistically diverse communities have access to health information in their language.

20 years on, MHCS is now an award-winning agency, continuing to promote better health through better communication - from translations to innovative and multi-platform campaigns that successfully reach health targets.

We are humbled by the wonderful support of our friends and colleagues who believed in our extraordinary journey to passionately communicate health messages through unique and creative ways to address culture and language to help people from multicultural backgrounds live healthier lives.

This coming May 16th, we celebrate this milestone with everyone who have inspired, helped and guided us to where we are today!

Multicultural Health Week 2017

Multicultural Health Week (MHW) is held each September to raise awareness of specific health issues and needs to people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background or multicultural backgrounds. 

This week-long event involves Local Health Districts holding their own independt events focussing on the specific theme, as well as promoting  a wide range of multicultural services to communities. oordinated by the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service, the celebration for MHW is launched on the first Monday of September.

Visit Multicultural Health Week web page to find out all about Multicultural Health Week and our previous celebration.

Community news


Pink Sari Inc @ Portraits in Pink


Nepean Blue Mountains LHD with Penrith City Council is organizing Portraits in Pink, Celebrating breast cancer survivors - a photographic exhibition to celebrate the stories of 14 breast cancer survivors from the Indian and Sri Lankan communities in NSW.

The event will be held at the Penrith City Library, 601 High Street, Penrith from the 1st to the 27th April 2017. Open M-F from 9am- 8pm and weekends from 10am - 5pm.

If you have community and social media news you'd like to be featured on Polyglot, please email details with maximum 200 words including a count plus a high resolution JPG file to


New publications :
What's the latest resource available in language?


Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcusaureus (MRSA)

Infant of a diabetic mother

A patient's guide to anaesthesia

Eating to prevent and treat pressure injuries

Advance care planning: making your wishes know

Helping your child learn two languages

Information on installation and safe use of Occupational Therapy Equipments:
Shower chair
Over toilet aid

Manual wheelchair

Bed rail

Bathboard/bath seat

Apnoea of prematurity

Advance care planning for end of life for people with mental illness

Recipe corner

Every issue, we will share a healthy recipe from different cuisines, sourced from the web and from past campaigns.

In this issue, we share a winning recipe for Kotthu Rotti from the MHCS 2009 Healthy and Tasty Recipe Competition, submitted by Subahini Paveethan


1 bunch of spring onion or shallots chopped
1 bunch of leeks chopped
1 green capsicum cut
1 red capsicum cut 200g snow peas
3 medium onions chopped
4 eggs
4 chopped Lebanese bread
1 tsp chillie powder
Salt just enough for taste
10 curry leaves chopped
5 green chillies chopped                                

• Fry onion separately and when golden brown put curry leaves with cumin seeds
 • Then fry leeks separately
• After that dry spring onion separately
• Then fry egg with salt, chillie powder and chilly and stir like scrambled egg
• Then put all fried items together in a wok
• Add chopped lebanese bread little by little and mix well
• Add all the ingredients mix well with other fried items

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.  If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."  - Nelson Mandela 


NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service
LMB 5003 Buildling 41 Gladesville Hospital
Punt Road Gladesville NSW 2111

This newsletter is distributed to all our stakeholders, health workers and general public who requested to be in our mailing list.
If you want more information about our privacy policy, please visit this page.