WA Health system

Multicultural health

Western Australia is home to the largest proportion of people born overseas, making it the most culturally diverse state in the nation.

With people from 190 countries, speaking more than 270 languages and dialects (including around 50 Aboriginal languages), it is important to provide culturally appropriate services and care.


People who speak limited or no English or who are deaf or hard of hearing have the right to access interpreting services when using WA Health services. This includes Auslan (Australian Sign Language) services.

How do I access an interpreter?

You can ask for an interpreter any time you need help when using government services.

Healthcare providers will help you find the right interpreting service for your needs. This can involve accessing an interpreter:

  • in person, face-to-face
  • by telephone
  • through video conferencing.

Look for this symbol in hospitals and health services:

National Interpreter Symbol

If you find it hard to communicate in English, you can get an interpreter card which will let Government agencies know that you need an interpreter. Find out more about the interpreter card at the Office of Multicultural Interests website (external site).

If you prefer a family member, carer or friend interprets for you, rather than use a professional interpreter, the hospital or health service will ask you why you made that choice. This is to make sure you are getting the best possible healthcare.

Asking friends or family to interpret for you is not usually recommended, as doctors need to be confident an interpreter can accurately explain medical and complex information.

If you chose to use a qualified interpreter, your family, carer or friend can usually stay with you while you are talking with your doctor and the interpreter.

Compliments and complaints

Find out how to make a compliment or complaint to the Western Australian Department of Health.

Last reviewed: 02-08-2022

Cultural Diversity Unit

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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