Communication is NOT a simple exchange of information view image
Communication IS a highly complex process view image
Effective communication is essential for achieving optimal health care: this is difficult to achieve when the cultural and language differences between health staff and Indigenous patients are extreme. The health outcomes for this group continue to be far worse than those of other Australians: ineffective communication is one contributing factor which can be prevented, or at least minimised.
Click here for some ideas from Yolŋu (Indigenous people from Northeast Arnhemland) and Balanda (non-Indigenous people) about the importance of good communication.
Most people are aware that communication is sometimes difficult in interactions between Balanda and Yolŋu. However, recent research (see links below) has found that communication problems are much more common - and more serious - than most of us realise.
Miscommunication between Balanda and Yolŋu is often not recognised (particularly with patients and family members who speak relatively good English). This 'invisible' masking is very dangerous - it can seriously compromise the quality of care and lead to frustration and distress for both staff and patients.
the True Stories Project
This project explored the extent and nature of miscommunication between health staff and their Yolŋu patients in the context of renal care. Much of the content in this web-site draws on the findings of this project. Click on the link above to find out more.
information on miscommunication in Yolŋu health care
The few research projects which have investigated communication in Indigenous health care in Australia have presented similar findings: pervasive miscommunication between health staff and their Indigenous patients. Click on this link to find out more from the Yolŋu context.