Commonwealth Bank has partnered with NSW Health to provide increased translation support for Sydney Local Health District’s COVID-19 support line.

Sydney Local Health District has provided more than 1.32 million COVID-19 vaccinations since February 22 this year, across multiple fixed and mobile sites.

The District’s COVID-19 support line operates seven days a week and receives about 1700 calls a day from people needing assistance to book vaccination appointments, consolidate records, or locate centres. About a quarter of all callers need basic language support.

CBA has been in regular consultation with the NSW Government on how they can best support the community as we navigate through the recent outbreak and work toward the reopening of the state and economy.

During the initial phase, the partnership provided Sydney Local Health District with access to CBA’s extensive employee network, many of whom are multilingual.

The pilot saw more than 300 CBA volunteers working alongside Sydney Local Health District staff to translate phone inquiries in up to 43 languages.

District’s Chief Executive Dr Teresa Anderson said: “Sydney Local Health District is very culturally and linguistically diverse, with more than 52 per cent of residents speaking a language other than English at home.

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked hard to ensure everyone in our community has access to information on vaccinations and access to booking, no matter which language they speak. We are very grateful to Commonwealth Bank for this wonderful support which has made life even easier for our non-English speaking community members,” said Dr Anderson.

After a successful pilot, the program is currently open to all CBA employees proficient in another language. Employee volunteers are not required to be an accredited interpreter or medically trained to be involved.

Commonwealth Bank Group Executive, Human Resources, Sian Lewis, said: “As one of the largest employers in Australia, our people are committed to supporting the community when they need it most, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

“We are proud to have an incredibly diverse workforce with 45,000 employees across the country, many of whom are proficient in multiple languages and dialects. To date, we have already seen more than 300 employees volunteer, fluent in more than 40 languages, who have already assisted with over 500 calls.”

CBA volunteers from across Australia are available 7 days a week through a dedicated telephone line established to support the service. All participating employees have also received training and guidance from NSW Health ahead of joining calls with the public.

The announcement follows the introduction of employee vaccination hubs and rapid antigen testing in branches, as well as increased customer support and COVID-safe measures since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’d like to acknowledge the continued impact our people have on initiatives like this and without their contribution, we would not be able to provide this support and implement such a program. As a bank and essential service, we will continue to do what we can to help our people and customers keep the community safe,” concluded Ms Lewis.