Good Samaritan Sister, Catherine Norman admits she’s “not very good at being sweet and compassionate and kind, tending to individual people’s wounds”, reports The Good Oil.
“I’m not bad at that, but I think I’m better at seeing how I can change systems, influencing the way government does things,” she explains. “Having a voice at that level to me is the most effective use of my talents.”
As Area Manager of Multicultural Health Services for Hunter New England Health, Catherine is well placed to do this.
With 33 staff based at the Newcastle unit and over 300 spread across a large part of New South Wales – including the Hunter, New England, Central Coast and North Coast regions – Catherine and her team are responsible for ensuring that people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds are able to access public health services in ways that are appropriate for them.
In addition to the Multicultural Health Unit’s main services – the Health Care Interpreter Service, the NSW Rural Health Care Interpreter Service, Multicultural Health Liaison and the Refugee Health Clinic – Catherine and her staff also provide education and advice to Hunter New England Health staff – some 16,000 people – on multicultural health issues.
While the task sounds enormous, Catherine doesn’t seem fazed by it. She is passionate about her work and energised by it. “I love it,” she says. “I have to retire soon because I’m getting too old, but I will be sad to go.”
Catherine’s commitment to quality health care that can be accessed by all is palpable. Respect for a person’s culture and language reflects not only her strong belief in their inherent dignity and worth; it has very practical ramifications. In some cases, a lack of awareness of, and sensitivity to, another’s culture and language can be a matter of life and death.
FULL STORY A committed and passionate advocate (The Good Oil)