CALD COVID-19 Community Resilience Program (CCCR) coordinator Lilian Shamoon said the new project was developed as a response to the concerns of the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Communities who need assistance in navigating vaccine information due to lack of digital skills, information/language barriers and the changing nature of information.
The program is a collaboration between the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS), NSW Health and the University of Technology Sydney and aims to build the capacity to deliver and support the delivery of community led health communications initiatives to build resilience to the impacts of COVID-19. The project is funded by Multicultural NSW.
The project has set up a dedicated multilingual telephone line to assist with vaccination bookings, provide information about boosters and vaccination for children, provide information on managing COVID-19 safely at home and use of Rapid Antigen Tests.
The project participants will be supported by bicultural community educators to create their own culturally and linguistically appropriate social media content and engage in one-on-one and small group conversations about COVID-19, vaccines and public health measures. They will also be a focus on identifying misinformation on social media associated with COVID-19.
"The ways in which it is possible to address misinformation regarding COVID-19 is by ensuring that information is sourced from trusted providers such as NSW Health and other organisations working with CALD communities," said Lilian, who is the STARTTS CALD COVID-19 Community Resilience (CCCR) senior project officer.
"Many communities lack trust in government institutions, struggle with English language skills and have a tendency to access news and information in language largely sourced and curated overseas. This has resulted in mixed messaging regarding COVID-19 and has impacted on vaccine uptake in particular.
"It's important to create culturally and linguistically appropriate social media content as this can help bridge language and cultural differences and encourage two way communication between individuals, communities and institutions."
30 migrant and refugee community leaders and volunteers are part of the project from a range of different languages including Arabic, Assyrian, Bosnian, Croatian, Dari, Dinka, Hazaragi, Lao, Serbian, Spanish, Tamil and Vietnamese.
Researcher and recent PhD graduate of UTS, Dr Michael Camit has been working with community leaders from migrant and refugee backgrounds to explore the potential of social media to contribute to health outcomes. His hope is that by learning about how social media works, and how disinformation is spread, community members can be more critical about health messaging they receive.
"By having a dedicated phone lines to listen to community concerns we can build more resilient communities to COVID-19 and misinformation," Dr Camit said.
"With the changing nature of advice regarding COVID-19, it is important that we work with bicultural community members to understand what conversations are happening in their communities about COVID-19 and how they respond to the various regulations and policies."