Date: 3 May 2022

Presenters:  Anagha Joshi (AIFS), Julie Ngwabi (Emerging Minds), and Zakiyyah Muhammad (Psychotherapist and Mental Health Social Worker).

Organisers: Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) and Emerging Minds

Watch the webinar here.


This webinar provided a broad overview of considerations in supporting child mental health in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. Children and families from CALD backgrounds can experience unique challenges that may affect their mental health and wellbeing, and may face barriers to accessing and engaging with services. The webinar explored these issues,  as well as strategies to tailor services to better address the mental health and wellbeing needs of children and families within CALD communities.

Key messages :

The term CALD may be both helpful and limiting of practitioner’s understanding of individual experience

  • CALD broadly encompasses communities with diverse languages, ethnic backgrounds, traditions and religions. They are not homogenous groups, and definitions regarding the term may not represent the full diversity present within these communities
  • The way the term CALD is understood and conceptualised informs the way we research, tailor interventions and interact with individuals and communities. It is important to be clear about how CALD is understood at both the organisational level and by individuals and communities themselves.
  • Stronger and better clarity is needed to define CALD at an organisational level, with clear expectations for practitioners when working with these groups

Principles and practice approaches for organisations to proactively engage with CALD communities to support early intervention and prevention

  • Understanding the importance of reputation and word of mouth is paramount in order to support early intervention and prevention.
  • Be visible and transparent, and come from a place of curiosity that honours lived experience.
  • Organisations need to engage with CALD communities, families, and individuals to find out what the barriers are, for both the community at large as well as specific individuals, and find solutions through proactive dialogue and co-design.

The key principles and practice approaches for building trust and rapport with children and families.

  • Honouring and empowering the expertise and wisdom of the family, child, and community
  • Meet individuals where they are at, with the language that they use
  • The importance of relationship and trust building over time, and with patience, to create safe spaces for individuals to share their experience and wisdom
  • Providing organisation-wide and consistent cultural awareness training

Additional resources

Emerging Minds provides a range of resources which provide insights into working with CALD children and communities in a culturally competent, curious and safe way. These include:

  • Practicing cultural curiosity when engaging with children and families. Chris Dolman, Mthobeli Ngcanga and Nellie Anderson, Australia, April 2020. This paper provides an overview of important considerations when engaging with children and families from refugee and migrant communities.
  • Cultural considerations to support children from migrant and refugee backgrounds – The webinar features presenters Liz Gordon (QPAAST) and Julio Alejo (CASSA), and is facilitated by Chris Dolman (Emerging Minds), May 2020.This webinar, co-produced by CFCA and Emerging Minds, explores how to have respectful, collaborative and curious conversations with children and families from migrant and refugee backgrounds.
  • Child and Family Partnerships Toolkit. This toolkit is designed to support authentic, safe and respectful collaborations between organisations and child and family partners (people with lived experience). It will help you to maximise the benefits to your organisation, your clients and your child and family partners.