A new report by Settlement Services International (SSI) has found that community leaders and representatives of grassroots associations are a vital asset serving as ambassadors in keeping newcomers and other diverse communities COVID-19 safe and are stepping up in community-led and peer-to-peer ways.
Other findings from SSI's research report:
- COVID-19 health messages are getting through to people in case management arrangements like SSI’s Humanitarian Settlement Program. This affirms the need to utilise existing settlement workers and other trusted pathways to reach communities whose first language is not English.
- Responses to the pandemic need to be tailored, not with a one-size-fits-all approach, and this is evidenced in the community survey, with people over 56 years and those in Australia for less time likely beneficiaries of tailored messaging.
- Physical distancing has increased social isolation, particularly for people new to Sydney without social networks, so mental health responses and funding enhancements need to expand to address this.
- Newcomers and members of more vulnerable communities are more likely to follow government advice when delivered through someone or an organisation they trust.
- Working more closely with trusted community organisations and diverse community leaders will enhance the efforts governments are already making to inform and keep their communities safe.
- SSI, its members, partners and collaborators possess invaluable social and community infrastructure that governments should utilise more purposefully in Western Sydney and other target locations.