Weekly CEO Update from Mental Health Australia: Lockdown through the eyes of some of our Embrace consumers and carers

COVID health information in Arabic, Chinese, and Vietnamese

For our Guest Blog this week we asked some of our Embrace Multicultural Mental Health consumers and carers just how they are feeling, and to describe some of the challenges they are seeing in their communities as a result of the many COVID-19 lockdowns. 

With more than 13 million Australians currently in lockdown, we’ve particularly focussed on people in NSW, Victoria and South Australia and taken a look at what some of the multicultural communities are doing to communicate key health messages and provide care and connection during this time.

Here’s just some of what our Embrace consumers and carers have told us this week:

I’m feeling very frustrated – it’s very difficult when there is no definite end date for the lockdown. I’m also angry with local authorities for acting slowly, for not having a disaster plan ready to act on immediately, and for not having information in different languages ready to distribute. Frustrated that this took so long to arrange.

South West Sydney has been stigmatised as blue collared, uninformed, migrants who are a problem. The Eastern Suburbs were not labelled like this. There is disparity in treatment of communities and the message is that we are not all in this together.

Asylum seekers in our community who had lost work have lost vital sources of income due to the lockdown and are now in need of food support provided by charities. They are not eligible for government COVID emergency financial support. They are a vulnerable group whose vulnerability has been compounded. 

Disadvantages are heightened and emphasised, people feel labelled. Also people who are less proficient in English are not able to provide assistance to their children with home schooling. They often rely on their children to translate information for them, so asking parents to supervise children while home schooling is unrealistic. 

In late June our friends at Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) launched a small grants program supported by the Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA), Migration Council Australia and the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN).  

The program delivers small grants to community groups to undertake and lead targeted communication activities on COVID-19 and the vaccinations at the grassroots level.  

According to FECCA Chief Executive Officer, Mohammad Al-Khafaji:

These grants will support local community leaders to ensure information and messages are delivered to their communities by trusted members and in the best form to be understood and acted upon. We thank multicultural communities who have done their part in tackling this pandemic, and we hope these small grants can support their important work. 

From a mental health perspective, recent announcements around additional funding for communications activities, particularly in NSW, will further add to the list of growing translated resources and information available to multicultural communities including:

  • $4 million to Primary Health Networks (PHNs): $2 million to boost commissioned mental health services, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and $2 million to provide targeted support and to work with CALD communities and leaders in impacted areas.
  • $500,000 for a communications campaign to increase awareness of available mental health services and support, aimed at CALD communities.

To help get the messages out there is a lot happening, and there needs to be.

From grassroots organisations like the Western Sydney Migrant Resource Centre undertaking pulse surveys to answer some of the main reoccurring questions, they have been asked and then presenting those results back to representatives in the NSW Government who feedback to NSW Health and NSW Police, to Beyond Blue ramping up their suite of translated mental health literacy information such as Supporting your mental health during the pandemic fact sheets in 63 languages to videos on how to find support and talk about mental health in Arabic, Chinese, Punjabi and Vietnamese

Not to mention the great Multicultural youth experiences of the pandemic video series by ReachOut called Keeping up with my Culture.

Find out more about some of the many COVID-19 specific resources available and the Embrace Multicultural Mental Health Project.


On Monday our CEO Leanne Beagley will be returning from leave.

On Tuesday we’ll be holding a webinar with our lived experience networks on our Advice to Governments on the National Agreement for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

While on Wednesday we’ll be meeting with the Co-Chairs of the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum and attending the Disability Gateway Reference Group meeting.

And on Thursday we will be attending the last Mental Health Information Strategy Standing Committee meeting.


Member Benefits, Jobs and Profiles

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Mental Health Australia members are invited to send us news, announcements, job vacancies, events or other notices for inclusion in the Weekly CEO Update newsletter. To do so, simply fill out this form by COB each Wednesday for your notice to appear in the newsletter the following Friday.

Job opportunities

Deakin’s School of Medicine is looking for a Network Manager based in Geelong. Working as part of the Institute for Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Translation (IMPACT), the primary purpose of the Network Manager is to catalyse the establishment and running of MAGNET: the Mental Health Australia General Clinical Trial Network. Implementing MAGNET requires establishing the systems and processes that will underpin its vision of enabling the innovative, globally impactful, large-scale clinical trials that can change practice in mental health. Read more about the role here.

Emerging Minds, the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health is also seeking a Health Promotion Officer and a Project Lead - Digital Health to join their Adelaide-based Families & Education Team. The Health Promotion Officer will be responsible for the facilitation and coordination of a specific range of child mental health promotion activities, including the development and delivery of high quality and accessible health information and practice resources. The Project Lead will be responsible for leading the development and delivery of Emerging Minds digital health projects and activities to improve child mental health literacy in families.

Member Profiles

Mental Health First Aid Australia

Mental Health First Aid International is a purpose-driven provider of skills-based mental health first aid education, guided by best practice and lived experience. Mental Health First Aid training provides course participants with the skills and knowledge to recognise and respond to someone experiencing a mental health problem or a mental health crisis until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves. Their range of practical, evidence-based training is delivered by more than 2,000 accredited instructors in communities, workplaces and schools across Australia. 

breakthru is a national for purpose company that has worked with 1000’s of Australians over the past 25 years to access the services they need to live their best life. Through the provision of high-quality person-centric programs, we enable people to address mental health, employment, disability, homelessness and training needs. At breakthru we deliver a range of mental health services that provide support to people to assist with mental health concerns to maintain the best possible social and emotional outcomes, and meet personal recovery goals.


Embrace Multicultural Mental Health News

Look after your mental health during COVID-19

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can talk to a trained counsellor any time by calling the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Line: 1800 512 348. For a free telephone interpreter, call 131 450. Posters available in 37 languages:



NepaliPolishPortuguesePunjabiRussianSimplified ChineseSerbianSpanish,

SwahiliTamilTraditional ChineseThaiTurkishUrdu and Vietnamese.

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International student, Toby from Headspace speaks about taking care of your mental health in these video resources, available in two languages: Cantonese and English.

Embrace Australia logo (a rectangle with a light and dark purple cultural stripe pattern with "embrace" and stylised outline of the Australian continent in the lower right corner).


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