Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

An initiative which helps Armidale Ezidi people navigate the Australian health system has launched a new name and symbol to instil a sense of ownership in the community.

Local non-profit HealthWISE celebrated the renaming of its care navigation program to Ezidkhan on Wednesday, August 23, hosting a morning tea for Ezidi community members and local service providers.
“Ezidkhan means ‘a house of Ezidi’. It’s a big name for the Ezidi community,” HealthWISE care navigator Kaso Elias explained.

The name was chosen to give the community a sense of pride for the program, and as a symbol of safety and openness for care navigation clients.

“They feel HealthWISE is the second house for the community. So they feel that we are their friend,” Kaso said.

“I think the name will give them more confidence to speak with the team,” he said.

“Ezidkhan includes everyone. So it’s like, ‘you have a place to go to,’” added care navigator Jehan Darwesh.

HealthWISE also launched a peacock icon featuring the colours of the Ezidi flag. The peacock is a powerful national symbol for the Ezidi people, and is white to represent innocence, peace, equality and purity, with red to represent hardiness, valour and martyrs, and yellow for life and light.

Over 700 Ezidi people have settled in Armidale as humanitarian entrants since 2018. The HealthWISE Ezidkhan care navigation service seeks to help this community overcome barriers accessing health care including language, managing appointments, travel and health literacy.

“ISIS attacked their hometown of Shingal, Iraq, in 2014 and everyone was dispersed. They’d been living in camps in Turkey and other countries,” care navigator Melissa van Leeuwen said.

“Some residents have complex health needs, and the community has high rates of trauma and disability. The model of care in their home country is very different to the model in Australia,” she said.

Initially joining HealthWISE as interpreters before moving into care navigator roles, Kaso and Jehan are both part of the Ezidi community.

“Kaso and Jehan are trusted members of the community,” Melissa said.

“They represent safety and security for community members. They represent familiarity which is a comfort for many. The community feels safe knowing that they can contact the care navigation phone and that someone who speaks their language is going to be on the other end.”

The Ezidkhan care navigation program is funded by the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network for the Armidale area.

The service is accessed through general practitioner referrals. To learn more, email cnarmidale@healthwise.org.au or call 6771 1146.

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