Professor Pranee Liamputtong

Professor Pranee Liamputtong is determined to ensure women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds receive appropriate healthcare.

Honour Roll

Almost 20 years ago Pranee Liamputtong was eagerly anticipating the birth of her first child. Yet what should have been one of the happiest times of her life was confusing and disappointing because of her experience in hospital.

"I was doing my PhD at Monash yet people were treating me badly because they assumed that I did not know any English," she said. "They would walk past me without saying anything and I thought if I was able to speak English and they treated me like that, how did people who could not speak any English cope?"

A migrant from Thailand, Pranee became determined to ensure that women from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds received appropriate care and so began her quest to educate health care professionals about their needs.

Pranee started volunteering to present at seminars, and after the publication of her resource book My Forty Days, she was sought out for advice. "I think people started to open their eyes," she said. Today, Pranee can see her persistence - and her hard work - is paying off. "I can see changes happening in hospitals," she said.

Changes such as respecting the cultural beliefs of patients and providing culturally relevant food and ensuring interpreters are available. Pranee has a long list of achievements, among them her continual work as a leader in qualitative research methodology in health in Australia, and she has been teaching and training generations of health care providers through her position at La Trobe University.

Her future focus includes research into the sexual health of culturally and linguistically diverse women. She said her most important message is encouraging others to understand the social and cultural backgrounds of women. "And that can be simply to ask the women! You do not need to go and read 10 books, just ask!"