Cultural Diversity

At St Vincent’s we are committed to provide a high quality health care service which is equitably accessible and responsive to the socially, culturally, multi faith and linguistically diverse community it serves.

Culturally responsive care is vital in our health service: Australia has the highest proportion of overseas born persons in the Western World and the 2021 census has shown that in the state of Victoria 52.2 % of us are born overseas or have a parent born overseas. In Australia we speak around 350 languages and dialects, practise around 135 faiths and come from over 255 countries. (ABS 2021)

It is of no surprise then that our patient population at St Vincent’s Melbourne is incredibly diverse. Between July 1st  2021 and June 30 2022, approximately 40% of our patients/residents were born overseas. This reflects 194 countries of birth, 1 in 5 of our Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) patients requiring an interpreter, 89 different languages spoken and 34 faiths. (Patient Administration System 2021-22).

In order to ensure culturally responsive care and best outcome for all our patients and residents, health care professionals within St Vincent’s recognise that culture, language and religious convictions impact on the clinical encounter as well as communication with other staff members.

Aside from making sure to use interpreting services of an accredited health interpreter particularly when dealing with critical issues in patient care, a significant component in improving the general care of patients of a CaLD background also lies in the ability of the health care provider to be able to develop, build on his/her cultural awareness, understanding, responsiveness and competence in dealing with CaLD patients.

The SVHM Cultural Diversity Program includes (but is not limited to) the following:

Staff Support


  • Comprehensive training program of 20 modules aimed at supporting and developing the cultural awareness, knowledge, skills and competence that St Vincent’s Health Melbourne (SVHM) staff will need in delivering culturally appropriate health care. Topics range from the impact of culture and language on such areas as communication, pain assessment, end of life considerations, conflict resolution and team management.
  • Online training module on Culturally Responsive and Safe Care at SVHM
  • Monthly news items to all staff on cultural and religious observances
  • Cultural resources on the intranet webpage
  • Special events and regular forums during Cultural Diversity Week and Refugee Week (See images above displaying our 2022 program)
  • The SVHM Talk to Me app which includes over 500 phrases across 15 community languages covering 20 topics to facilitate basic one-way communication to patients and/or residents in sub-acute care. Please click here to access the SVHM Talk to Me App.

SVHM Talk to Me Application


To facilitate better conversations with patients and residents of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, our teams in collaboration with the City of Melbourne created the Talk to Me App.

Talk to Me is a progressive Web Application built for IPad, IPhone and Android devices to facilitate brief, sentence based, basic information in multiple languages other than English.

It can be used by patients and health professionals alike.

Currently, the app is available in Arabic, Cantonese, Croatian, Dinka, Farsi (Persian), Hakka, Italian, Greek, Macedonian, Mandarin, Serbian, Somali, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese.

The Talk to Me app assists staff to communicate with patients and residents in day-to-day care, between the key moments when an interpreter would be accessed.

Please note that Talk to Me does NOT replace the vital role of an interpreter. An interpreter should always be engaged to communicate the important points in the continuum of patient care.

The Talk to me app can be accessed on

Please ensure to use Google Chrome

For more information email


Governance, Policies and Procedures

The SVHM Cultural Responsiveness Guideline (2022) and the Language Services Policy (2021) sit under the SVHM Diversity and Inclusion Policy (2019) all of which are designed to support SVHM staff in planning appropriate services and manage inherent risks for CaLD clients.

More Information

For more information on the Cultural Diversity Program, please email

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