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

Call for a New Framework for a Culturally Responsive and Safe Mental Health System in Victoria

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