Author: Blick

A culturally safe & responsive mental health system: ECCV & VTMH joint recommendations

The impact of the failures of the state’s mental health system on the mental health and wellbeing of Victoria’s migrant and refugee communities and recommendations for a transformed, culturally responsive mental health system are outlined in a new paper released today.

Produced by the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria [ECCV], in partnership with Victorian Transcultural Mental Health [VTMH], the Recommendations for a Culturally Responsive Mental Health System paper sets out how the mental health reforms underway in Victoria could also lead to better mental health services and outcomes for people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

It outlines key considerations for a mental health system that supports the needs of a diverse community and that is culturally safe, culturally responsive, equitable and inclusive for all members of the community.

The paper was commissioned by the Victorian Government, Department of Health to identify ways the mental health system in Victoria can increase its cultural responsiveness and improve access to mental health services for people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.

The implementation of the ECCV-VTMH report’s recommendations will help build a more contemporary, effective and culturally responsive approach to mental health reform in Victoria.

The paper regards human rights-based and intersectional approaches as integral to mental healthcare. This involves addressing the systemic barriers that lead to discrimination and exclusion as well as engaging diverse communities as partners.

It also calls for partnerships with multicultural services, ethno-specific community organisations and people with lived experience to overcome the many barriers that prevent people from migrant and refugee backgrounds from accessing support.

Key recommendations include:

  • Developing and applying a strengths-based model to engage with migrant and refugee communities to draw upon their lived experiences of community mobilisation and mutual support
  • Ensuring all decision-making bodies are representative of the diversity of the community
  • Developing the capability of the mental health workforce to deliver culturally safe and responsive care and ensuring services are more representative of the cultural diversity of the community
  • Building partnerships with people with lived experience, ethno-cultural and multicultural organisations, community leaders and advocates to design and deliver mental health services
  • Improving access to professional interpreters who are mental health trained

Download the media release here

Download the full report here

COVID-19 – Community information and Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources are now available in many languages. You will find up-to-date information at Health Translations, search ‘Coronavirus’ or COVID-19’. 

Posters, videos, and other information have been produced by the following sources: 

Government Information  

Australian Government, Department of Health

Victorian State Government, Department of Health and Human Services  

Victorian State Government, DHHS – Translated videos on mask wearing

Victorian Multicultural Commission – Community Ambassador Videos

North Western Melbourne PHN – Public health information in 18 languages

Other resources  

Tandem – Information for Carers, family and friends in mental health

Beyond Blue  – Coronavirus mental health support information

SBS Radio – Coronavirus Information in 63 languages

Australian Red Cross – Information on how to prepare for Coronavirus

Victorian Refugee Health Network – Multilingual and accessible information regarding mask wearing, testing and safe public transport use

Adapting our operations during COVID-19

We’ve been developing new opportunities for practitioners and teams to learn and stay connected online whilst our face-to-face events are on hold.  
Our existing range of self-directed online learning modules, covering a variety of topics on culturally responsive practice, are freely accessible to explore.  

You can also find links to translated information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) available in a range of community languages.

The VTMH team can be contacted via phone on (03) 9231 3300 or, and are utilising video and teleconferencing facilities as alternative ways to connect to continue to engage in project and partnership work. 

If you are interested in finding out about our upcoming online events and current news, please subscribe to our mailing list

We will continue monitoring the advice of relevant Government officials and look forward to connecting with you in new ways.  

Spirituality & Diversity Discussion Group 2019

This project was developed as a result of feedback from a joint forum held by VTMH and Spiritual Health Association in August 2017, ‘Opening Doors to Spiritual Experience: exploring practices that enrich personal recovery’. A strong theme that came out of the feedback received from this event was that mental health practitioners were wanting more reflective spaces to discuss Spirituality in regards to Recovery.

Through six, monthly sessions lasting 90 minutes each, these groups have consisted of participants from various mental health services across Victoria. Roles have included Lived experience practitioners, Case Managers, Community mental health practitioners, Psychiatric Nurses and Spiritual Care Workers.

The sessions were facilitated by Jennifer Greenham, Spiritual Health Association, James Godfrey a Spiritual Care Coordinator from Forensicare, Justin Kuay Consultant Psychiatrist, VTMH and Josie Tremain, Education & Service Development Consultant, VTMH.Each session of the program explored a different theme for reflection and discussion including:

  • Psychiatry and God — why re they such uncomfortable bedfellows?
  • I’m spiritual but not religious — what does this mean?
  • How to respond caringly to someone who believes they are Jesus, Mohammed or other revered sages.
  • How to respond to a request for prayer
  • Recovery & Spiritual Care Values — are we talking about the same thing?
  • Spirituality discussion groups — what’s involved and could you facilitate one in your workplace?

These discussion groups invited practitioners to share their experiences and insights, and to unpack some of the unknowns surrounding spiritual and religious discussions in mental health settings. They allowed practitioners to develop a deeper understanding of how to explore conversations with mental health consumers about their diverse spiritual beliefs.

The program received a high level of interest from across the mental health sector and demand for places filled very quickly. Evaluation of the feedback and outcomes of the program is currently underway and will determine the next phase of this program in 2020.

Thank you to all the participants that have attended and contributed to this series of discussions throughout 2019.

Some comments from the feedback:

“It was respectful, open, inquisitive and invitational”

“Everyone allowing space, fascinating perspectives, broadening understanding”

“Open mind to spirituality, there is no wrong door to recovery”

Improving your work with interpreters — New resource now available

It’s the outcome of a two-year project conducted in three phases, including consultation with interpreters, mental health practitioners and senior managers, consumer and carers, consolidation and design based on a review of consultation advice and current literature, and resource development to produce new materials, update our online learning module and prepare a project report.

View images from the launch held on 28th October 2019

Approaching work with interpreters in mental health settings includes a tri-fold booklet, a series of videos and a practice tips poster. We also documented the work in a Project Report. Click here to download a copy of the report, and to find out how you can access all the resources.