Study to investigate links between COVID-19-related racism and healthcare in regional areas

9 JUNE 2020

Study to investigate links between COVID-19-related racism and healthcare in regional areas

Charles Sturt has awarded funding for a study that will investigate the connection between COVID-19-related racism and healthcare access in four regional NSW communities.

  • Charles Sturt awards $30,000 for study investigating the intersections between experiences of COVID-19-related racism and healthcare access and equity
  • Study will look at experiences of people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds living in Albury-Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Griffith and Young
  • Findings will inform healthcare policy and practice and support CALD peoples living in regional communities

Healthcare researchers from Charles Sturt University have been awarded funding for a project that will investigate the connection between COVID-19-related racism and healthcare access in four regional NSW communities.

The study will investigate whether people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds have experienced racism during the pandemic, and if this race-based discrimination has affected their healthcare access and equity.

The study is being conducted in Albury-Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Griffith and Young by Professor of Nursing (Research) Julian Grant and Dr Jessica Biles from the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health.

Professor Grant said there is a lot of evidence that CALD people face additional barriers when it comes to healthcare, particularly during a pandemic, and she hopes the study will shine a light on these barriers and identify how they can be redressed for future pandemics.

“We know from previous research that people in regional areas, particularly people from CALD communities, already have poorer access to healthcare,” Professor Grant said.

“We want our research to identify whether the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced additional barriers for CALD people in regional areas in terms of their access to healthcare.

“One of the important barriers our research will investigate is racism. There is a lot of evidence that social marginalisation and experiences of racism leads to further reductions in accessing timely healthcare and reduced health outcomes.

“There is also a historic evidence of racialisation of CALD people during pandemics, and there have been many reports of people from CALD backgrounds experiencing COVID-19-related racism.

“By investigating how these additional COVID-19-related barriers to healthcare have affected CALD people’s healthcare access and equity during the pandemic, it provides an opportunity to identify and redress these barriers for future pandemics.”

The research will also look at whether the application of the federal government’s population-based COVID-19 strategies and measures to manage the pandemic have increased racism experiences and affected healthcare access and equity for CALD people during the pandemic.

“What happens with healthcare in times of a pandemic is guided by the Australian Government Department of Health. This is makes sense and is what everyone has to do,” Professor Grant said.

“But how these population-based approaches to healthcare are communicated and implemented may be presenting additional barriers for CALD peoples.

“In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, our research will unpack the experiences of CALD people when trying to adhere to the population-based measure of isolation, quarantine and health hygiene requirements.”

Professor Grant acknowledged that while the population-based strategies should not be changed, she said there are steps we can take to help ensure the measures are better implemented and adopted by some groups of people.

“We can’t get rid of or change the population-based measures, but there may be ways that we can adapt the information to target the needs of particular community groups and reduce the racism people experience,” she said.

“Through our research, we can we help communities manage and implement the population based measures in a ways that are culturally appropriate for CALD people and in ways that may prevent them from experiencing racism.

“By combining analyses of racisms, health access and equity using COVID-19 restrictions, our research will identify important information to inform healthcare policy and practice for the current COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics.”

The research project received $30,000 in funding from Charles Sturt’s $200,000 COVID-19 research grants pool.

The researchers are working with a number of groups to conduct the research, including 

Multicultural Council of Wagga Wagga and Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia.

The research project will commence at the end of June and is expected to be completed by December 2020.

Connect with Dr Biles on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Connect with Dr Julian Grant on Twitter and LinkedIn.  

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Professor Julian Grant, contact Rebecca Tomkins at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0456 377 434 or news@csu.edu.au

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Albury-Wodonga Wagga Wagga Health Research Society and Community