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Working with community

There can be reluctance among people from culturally or linguistically diverse communities to voluntarily access hospital and community-based mental health services. Parents and families can find it difficult to understand and access mainstream systems of care and to access services that are culturally safe and appropriate.

Many families may also come from countries where there are no formal child protection systems and may have a fear of government services and intervention because of their previous experiences.

Before talking to the community consider:

  • As a caseworker, what ideas, beliefs, values and biases do I bring with me?
  • Will this impact the way I work with the community, talk about mental health and mental health issues and be accepted by the community?
  • How can I work in partnership with the community to meet their specific needs and ensure cultural appropriateness?
  • How can I maintain the family’s confidentiality and privacy, especially if it is a small or tightly-knit community?
  • How will I include family members in engaging the community?
  • Who are the community leaders and representatives that I should speak with to engage the community and plan my discussions?

Accessing the mental health system

For culturally diverse communities, access to mental health services can be difficult because of language barriers, literacy, differing understandings of mental health issues, limited awareness of services, shame and stigma, lack of interpreter use by service providers, confidentiality concerns, and cultural and religious beliefs. The type of visa the family has for Australia can also affect Medicare eligibility.

With permission from the family, be sure you share any relevant information about the family’s culture with the mental health services or professionals involved. Work in partnership with the service and family to build understanding and plan for the child’s safety.

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