Supporting Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Children and Families Facing Racism – Emerging Minds and AIFS
This webinar was hosted by Australian Institute of Family Studies and co-produced between Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) and Emerging Minds as part of a series focusing on child mental health.
Children are especially susceptible to the impacts of racism in its various forms. Racism has tangible repercussions on children and their families, influencing not just their mental and physical well-being, but also their interpersonal bonds and developmental prospects. Professionals engaging with children hailing from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds should grasp the mechanics of racism. Recognising that encounters with racism can be systemic and can manifest differently for each family, aids practitioners in addressing discussions surrounding racism and bolstering the mental health and overall welfare of CALD children. This webinar is recommended for practitioners who may engage and work with CALD children, families, and communities, aiming to empower individuals to address racism’s repercussions in diverse communities effectively.
- Mandy Truong – Research Fellow | Child Family Community Australia (CFCA)
- Julie Ngwabi – Senior Child Mental Health Advisor | Emerging Minds
- Wei Gao – Child and Family Partner | Emerging Minds
- Amanda Kemperman – Practice Development Officer | Emerging Minds
Drawing on expert insights, the webinar offers practical strategies for initiating conversations on racism. The need for secure and empathetic spaces is emphasised, as well as employing active listening, open-ended questions, and cultural humility. The event highlighted the responsibility of mental health and social services practitioners in addressing the issue of racism sensitively and effectively. Speakers emphasised that by embracing cultural diversity, understanding the impact of racism, and fostering open conversations, professionals can work towards more inclusive and supportive environments for CALD children and families.
Cultural Inclusion and Diversity Framework:
- The importance of adopting a cultural inclusion and diversity framework when working with CALD children and families was discussed. This framework involves recognizing and respecting the vast array of languages, ethnicities, nationalities, traditions, societal structures, and religions within families and across different communities.
- Understanding cultural values, beliefs, and practices enables practitioners to build stronger relationships with CALD children and families, fostering trust and collaboration in the therapeutic process.
Impact of Racism on Mental Health:
- Attendees learned about the significant impact of racism on the mental health and development of children. Recognising and addressing these adverse effects is vital for practitioners to provide appropriate and empathetic care.
- Children experiencing racism can suffer from various negative outcomes, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, behavioural issues, and even physical health problems. Racism can affect not only the targeted individuals but also the entire family, leading to family cohesion and functioning challenges.
Creating Safe Spaces:
- Practitioners were encouraged to initiate conversations with children and families to explore their experiences, concerns, and feelings related to racism.
- By fostering an environment of trust and understanding, practitioners can gain insights into the unique challenges faced by CALD children and families. These conversations not only validate the experiences of those who have faced racism but also help identify coping strategies and resilience factors.
The event is highly relevant for the sector due to the increasing multicultural diversity in many communities. As practitioners engage with a diverse clientele, understanding the experiences of CALD children and families facing racism becomes crucial. The webinar highlights the need for culturally sensitive and trauma-informed interventions to address the mental health impact of racism and promote inclusive and empowering practices.
- Racism and its links to the health of children and young people: This fact sheet summarises key findings from various studies examining racism and health and wellbeing in children and young people, in particular the research led by Dr Naomi Priest who was supported by a VicHealth grant.
- How the experiences and circumstances of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) children and families influence child mental health: This practice paper explores how the experiences of children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds can affect child mental health, looking specifically at parents and children who migrated to Australia for non-humanitarian reasons.
- Approaches to support child mental health in culturally and linguistically diverse communities: This webinar, co-produced by the Australian Institute of Family Studies and Emerging Minds, explores how practitioners can tailor their approach to work with children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.
- Racism, racial discrimination child and youth health: This report focuses on Australian data collected in the last five years (2016–2020) on racism, racial discrimination and health