World Wellness Group – Our story so far
WWG was founded by five Brisbane health workers who worked in various professional roles in the multicultural sector for the past 30 years. During this time we were part of many excellent multicultural health initiatives. When these were invariably de-funded due to changes in policy and funding priorities, it was time to take action. Despite often being able to provide positive evaluation results, multicultural health has struggled to be on any political agenda, or to be included in health policies. For a range of complex reasons, including lack of credible data, unhealthy migrants and refugees, especially those with mental illness, do not have a political voice.
The multicultural health sector for the past 30 years has largely been a smattering of projects rather than services and the health status of certain immigrant groups, refugees and asylum seekers has actually worsened. A lot of good ideas and energy has been wasted, many good people have left the sector disillusioned and multicultural communities are increasingly cynical about health projects, and particularly being ‘consulted’ on issues that never seem to change.
To deliver a high quality, accessible and affordable multicultural health and wellbeing service for marginalised migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. We are not interested in one-off projects; we want a sustainable health service that closes the ever increasing access and quality gaps. We are in it for the long haul.
The gap in access and quality is largely due to cultural and language barriers. In the health system, which is generally not responsive to cultural and language diversity, our client group experience:
- Services that do not use interpreters
- Mainstream health services dressed up as ‘universal access’
- Culturally inappropriate or unresponsive service models
- Health care providers that are not culturally and contextually competent
- Not feeling safe or comfortable with health care services
In our own clinic which is culturally targeted and responsive, these barriers can be challenging to overcome. It is no wonder that health inequity exists in the Australian health system, which is largely not responsive to cultural and language diversity, but can be addressed with targeted responses.
Why a social enterprise?
We are a social enterprise business, which means that we work for a social purpose: accessible and affordable healthcare combining the best of conventional and traditional medicine. We have chosen a business model in order to achieve a level of independence that is not vulnerable to political and funding changes. It is new, it is different and not without risk.
We have three goals:
- to provide accessible and affordable healthcare to our community,
- to pay our staff a fair wage
- to channel any profit we make towards subsidising health care for those who cannot afford to pay and into illness prevention programs.
No profits are provided to the directors of the company.
The success of our business won’t be measured in financial terms but by the number of people we are able to provide quality healthcare and prevention programs to that they cannot receive elsewhere.
Our evolution so far
We commenced a small community clinic at the Brisbane Multicultural Centre in 2012. Despite being a highly politically charged time for asylum seekers and multiple policy changes resulting in all sorts of health care entitlement complexities, we delivered more than 1000 medical, allied health and traditional medicine appointments to refugees and asylum seekers who would not have been able to receive this healthcare elsewhere during that time. This could not have been achieved without the incredible support we have received from many individuals, groups and organisations.
In 2013 we ran a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign which raised just enough funds for our move into our first little clinic space. In April 2014 we moved to Brisbane’s Stones Corner precinct with the help of individuals and organisations who fundraised and donated medical equipment and furniture. Our little community clinic provided more than 2000 healthcare appointments in 2014, mainly to refugees and asylum seekers.
In 2014 we also opened our doors to the local community when our GP clinic went full-time. In 2016 we fundraised again to move to bigger premises. We enjoyed the support of celebrities like Judith Lucy, Dilruk Jayasinha, Dave Thornton, Tom Ballard and Mel Buttle who head-lined two comedy fundraisers and in 2018 we moved into bigger premises.
The backbone of our service is a group of passionate and dedicated health practitioners, most who also work publicly or privately, who work at reduced rates compared to what they can earn elsewhere and who give generously of their time to provide a holistic health and wellbeing service to vulnerable people. We also have a highly committed and hard-working admin team who go out of their way to make our clinic warm, welcoming and responsive.
We are working hard to realise our vision of a health and wellbeing clinic which integrates orthodox and traditional medicine approaches incorporating research, education and advocacy. Given the level of marginalisation of our clients and high level of unmet needs we will not be able to achieve this without significant partnership and collaboration with public, private and community sector groups and organisations.
We are part of a movement that is taking the power to decide what gets funded out of the hands of the traditional decision makers.
We invite you to join us on this journey to make a grass roots difference to the health of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in our community, for the wellness of our whole community.
The video below was made during 2013 when we were doing a crowd funding campaign to raise funds to move into our own clinic space. The issues presented in the video are still relevant today!