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Monday, 4 June 1984
Page: 2409


Senator ZAKHAROV —Has the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs read the recent article in the Age newspaper headed 'Birth customs lead to hospital problems'? Can he inform the Senate how the national program entitled 'Language of Childbirth' will help to overcome the problems experienced by many migrant women during pregnancy?


Senator GRIMES —The article to which Senator Zakharov referred, which was published, I believe, in today's Age, referred to research conducted by the New South Wales Adult Migration Education Service which showed that non-English speaking women rarely, if ever, had any real information about hospital procedure because they had never received such information. They had very little information on the physiology of birth or mother care. Furthermore, the research showed that non-English speaking women had many problems in communicating with hospital staff their feelings and concerns and had great difficulty in asking questions about the situation they were in.

One solution to this problem, we suggest, is the language of childbirth program which can be used in the ante-natal clinics and the post-natal clinics in a hospital. It comprises audio visual aids with recorded dialogues and accompanying slides. It has a student work book. It has dialogue strips, language exercises and information segments, cassette tapes and bilingual booklets containing important words and information segments. These are aimed to assist women to understand the sorts of instructions they get in hospital, to ask and answer questions, to state their preferences about various things, to express pain, worry and concern, to seek clarification on what is happening, to understand commonly used medical terms and also to understand some of the idiomatic speech which is used in hospitals, particularly in relation to pregnancy.

The important aspect of the program is that it has been based on actual recorded conversations between pregnant women and medical staff. The program is funded by the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and is currently being distributed in each State and Territory by the respective adult migration education services. It certainly should be one step in being instrumental in breaking down the communication barriers which exist between all types of migrant women and hospital staff during this very important phase in these women 's lives. I hope, and the Minister hopes, that such a program will go a long way towards overcoming the many difficulties that migrant women face in such circumstances.