‘Playbook’ to engage culturally and linguistically diverse young people in future crises

Opportunities to better engage and communicate with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) youth and associated community organisations in future crises have been identified in new research from Monash University.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of researchers from the Faculty of Arts’ Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre (MMIC) and Action Lab in the Faculty of Information Technology were tasked with determining how to understand and better support CALD community organisations who engage with young people.

As part of this project, funded by the Victorian Government’s Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH), researchers worked closely with people aged 18-25 from six ethno-cultural backgrounds to understand their information needs as well as organisations working with CALD young people in Victoria.

Together, they collaborated to produce a social media playbook – an innovative online guide for CALD organisations to understand social and digital media spaces used by young people.

The playbook will be useful for government and community organisations in communicating with young people through online platforms towards effective mass public health communications.

The research team compiled their findings in a report – Co-designing and scaling effective COVID-19 communication strategies for young people from CALD communities in Victoria – launched today.

They found that empowering CALD young people involved a number of key steps – starting with understanding their existing digital literacies and capabilities, as well as information consumption.

Researchers also recommended training for CALD young people to better understand digital technologies and discern misinformation, as well as specifically engaging with those that were hardly reached with skill- and trust-building activities.

Other recommendations included employment opportunities for young CALD leaders to engage with their broader community and co-designing communications with organisations to better reflect lived experiences and digital capacities.

“Governments must tailor key messages to various minority groups within the community, including CALD people, those with disabilities, and especially those with limited access to digital communication technologies,” said project lead and MMIC Director, Professor Rebecca Wickes.

“In the early stages of the pandemic, information provided by health authorities was rapidly changing and didn’t take into account the unique challenges faced by many CALD communities.

“Outbreaks of COVID were also over-represented in some of these minority groups, underlining the need to better tailor messages for future crises.”

Research Fellow in the Action Lab, Dr Delvin Varghese, said the playbook contained a set of digital activities, case studies and templates tailored for organisations to use and action with the specific community groups they work with.

“Each community organisation is different. The playbook takes into account the social and cultural characteristics of their youth and the unique ways in which they engage with each other in online spaces,” he said.

“For instance, many migrant communities often use voice-based communication such as voice notes in WhatsApp. They can be better supported by information provided through audio-visual communication channels rather than just sending out text bulletins.”

Dr Charishma Ratnam, MMIC Research Fellow, said. “Overall, the findings demonstrate the important role of the digital sphere for young people and community workers and leaders for information access and sharing, which is why the playbook is an important ongoing asset.

“Crucial to our roadmap out of the pandemic is to better understand the way CALD young people engage with information, and use that information to connect with them in online spaces, particularly as we tackle our next frontier of vaccine hesitancy and misinformation and build on the lessons we have learnt over the last 18 months.”

The report will be launched at a webinar today (Wednesday, 10 November) from 10am-11.30am AEDT. To register your attendance, click here.

To view the playbook, visit here.

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