The Tibetan born population are an emerging priority community in the Northern Sydney region of NSW Australia. While they have been resident in the area for 15 years, there has been additional arrivals in 2022 with significant health and social needs. As new families establish themselves in the area, they may not be aware of the child and family services and how to access them. This project takes a holistic approach to understanding the needs of the community and concerns of service providers to build and evaluate a service model of care to assist families in healthy child development.

Project Rationale

Child and family services in Australia have been set up to support the first 2000 days (first three years) of a child’s life which can have a significant impact on health and development and the child’s life trajectory. Concern has been expressed by clinicians regarding the late presentation of Tibetan children with developmental delays to early intervention services and the low uptake of the Blue Book child development checks. However, families of refugee background, as part of the broader culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) population, face many barriers when engaging with early childhood services, including communication challenges, access to interpreters, low health literacy, complex service pathways, stigma, cultural differences, and the impact of pre and post settlement experiences. This project will work in partnership with Tibetan refugee families to co-design a model of care to improve access to culturally responsive child health nursing services and resources.

Project Aim/s

  • Understand the cultural beliefs, needs and concerns of families from Tibetan backgrounds in Sydney regarding healthy child development and their access to child and family health services. 
  • Explore the views of child and family service providers regarding healthy child development (0-5 years old) in families from Tibetan backgrounds in Sydney and their experience of providing services to them. 
  • Recommend strategies and pathways the NSLHD could develop to improve Tibetan refugee families’ access to culturally responsive child health nursing services and resources in a co-designed model of care.

Project Design and Method

  • Literature review
  • Interviews with parents and service providers
  • Thematic analysis of interviews
  • Co-designed culturally responsive child health nursing services model of care


Research Area

Health System Integration and Primary Health Care Development | Action for Equity

  • Dr Cathy O’Callaghan, Research Fellow, Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity (CPHCE), University of NSW (UNSW)
  • Cathy Butler, Manager, Multicultural Health Service, North Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD)
  • A/P Margo Barr, CPHCE, UNSW
  • Kim Lyle, Manager, Child, Youth and Family Health Services,  NSLHD
  • Lobsang Dolma, Project Officer, Multicultural Health Service, NSLHD 
  • Shoko Saito, Project Officer, CPHCE, UNSW
  • North Sydney Local Health District
  • North Sydney Local Health District

Dr Cathy O’Callaghan