MamaTalk: Enabling access to multilingual healthcare

MamaTalk: Enabling access to multilingual healthcare

: Good Hood

Innovation Program: Humanitech Lab

Collaborators: Birth for Humankind, 4th Trimester, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health

  • Challenge: In Australia, research indicates that up to 50% of women and birthing people who require translation and interpreter services have been unable to access them during pregnancy for healthcare appointments.
  • Technology: MamaTalk is a smartphone app that aims to increase access to culturally-informed and culturally-sensitive health information in languages other than English. It has been developed in consultation with health practitioners, translators, and community members from the relevant language group.
  • Pilot: The MamaTalk pilot focused on the needs of Arabic speakers based in Victoria and New South Wales who were navigating healthcare services during pregnancy.
  • Impact: In an evaluation led by La Trobe University, participants reported that MamaTalk was easy to use, culturally safe, and increased their confidence in understanding and communicating health information with their care providers. This increased their sense of agency, wellbeing, and trust in relationships with care providers overall.
“When we think about human rights, dignity and equity, it's about having a voice – and you can't have a voice if you don't have language.”
Emma Koster, Founder of Good Hood

Australia is a vibrant and multicultural country, with 22% of households speaking a language other than English at home. Yet many women and birthing people who require interpreter and translation services during pregnancy and postpartum have been unable to access them when navigating Australian healthcare settings, which can impact the quality of healthcare and their wellbeing.

Following community research, Good Hood identified a need for culturally-informed, in-language information for maternal health via smartphone. MamaTalk was developed to address this gap.

MamaTalk is the second app in the Solinary suite of multilingual health communications and has been created in consultation with the Victorian Department of Health, clinical practitioners, health workers, NAATI certified translators, and community members from the relevant language group. As a “living” language platform, Solinary strives to ensure that information is not only linguistically accurate but also culturally relevant and culturally safe for its users.

MamaTalk has been developed by utilising and extending the Solinary platform, having been purpose-built for the needs of pregnant women navigating maternal health settings who prefer to receive information in languages other than English.

To test the effectiveness of the tool with Arabic speakers during the perinatal period, the MamaTalk pilot was launched through the Humanitech Lab, an initiative of Australian Red Cross and founding partner Telstra Foundation dedicated to exploring new approaches to designing and developing technology for humanitarian impact.

About the pilot

The MamaTalk pilot focused on the unique experiences of 11 Arabic speaking women navigating maternal healthcare and support settings in Australia.

Participants came from a diverse range of countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, and Jordan, and all participants were pregnant when the pilot began (ranging from seven to 32 weeks).

MamaTalk was developed in consultation with the pilot participants, registered midwives, doulas and partner organisations: Birth for Humankind, 4th Trimester and the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health.

The pilot focused on learning more about the efficacy of the smartphone app in supporting Arabic-speaking women to more effectively and confidently communicate with healthcare and support providers over a three month period during pregnancy and postpartum.

Learn more about the pilot


In an evaluation led by La Trobe University, all eleven participants noted that they regularly reviewed MamaTalk before and after attending health appointments, as it provided an important tool to review key information and clarify questions. The ability to review this information in their own time and as often as necessary was noted as being important to the participants.

Several participants also stated that they routinely used MamaTalk to practice communications for use with care practitioners, and that MamaTalk’s audio and video functions were especially important in filling a gap in their pre-existing health communication knowledge.

Importantly, ten of the eleven participants noted that using MamaTalk had improved their sense of confidence in their ability to access care in a timely fashion and to communicate their needs to their healthcare providers. This suggests that MamaTalk offers a promising tool to meet the needs of pregnant Arabic-speaking women navigating healthcare settings in Australia.

What’s next?

Following the success of the pilot, Good Hood is excited to continue this work, extending MamaTalk’s language offering, developing additional content - including perinatal mental health resources - and growing its community of partner organisations.

The team will focus on making some tweaks to the product before launching MamaTalk publicly.

The team is also thrilled to be continuing their partnership with 4th Trimester to extend the MamaTalk language offering and to develop additional content for perinatal mental health in Australian contexts.

Access MamaTalk on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

“Solinary’s scope really has a lot of promise to move from a dataset with different languages speaking about health issues to being something that's more of an inclusion platform, where it’s possible to start drawing from this platform to provision products and services in many languages. That would be really exciting for me because this really is inclusion by design.”
Emma Koster

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