Speaking COVID-19: Supporting COVID-19 communication and engagement efforts with people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities

The pre-print version of this paper written with my colleagues Holly Seale, Anita Heywood, Ikram Abdi, Abela Mahimbo, Ashfaq Chauhan and Lisa Woodland is available. It provides timely evidence about the need for the development of COVID-related resources, messages and financial support for culturally diverse communities.

N.B. it’s a preprint so it hasn’t been through peer review yet.

Moon Towers

I read an article on lost objects. In it they briefly allude to moon towers, or moonlight towers, which I’d never heard of. These were 50-70m towers designed to illuminate areas up to 1km diameter areas.

The only remaining ones are in Austin, though their origins were grim:

The initial construction of these towers was in part a reaction to a local serial killer dubbed the Servant Girl Annihilator, who terrorized Austin between 1885 and 1886

Party At The Moon Tower

Informal care in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic

An important paper from Lukas Hofstaetter, Sarah Judd-Lam and Grace Cherrington from Carers NSW, which describes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on informal carers in New South Wales.

The experiences of carers documented in this article highlight how pre-existing, systemic shortcomings for carers were worsened by the public health and economic crises resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. A lack of reliable information and recognition, along with insufficient financial and practical supports, have exacerbated the complexities surrounding the provision of care. Limited access to digital devices, connections, and capabilities have further disadvantaged many carers. In many cases, carers engaged in employment or education have been required to carry out these activities from their homes, often necessitating additional investment in digital devices and connections.A majority of carers, however, rely on income support payments, and the financial costs of caring have also increased at a time when many people are experiencing diminished employment security.

tld;r: carers are more stressed, isolated and financially worse off


Hofstaetter, L., Judd-Lam, S., & Cherrington, G. (2022). Informal care in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Care and Caring. https://doi.org/10.1332/239788221X16216124420027

“The availability of good medical care tends to vary inversely with the need of the population served” – Submit your article to our special issue marking fifty years of the inverse care law

Dr Liz Sturgiss and I are guest editing a special issue of the Australian Journal of Primary Health on “Equity in Primary Health Care Provision: More than 50 years of the Inverse Care Law”.

Tudor Hart, J. (1971). The inverse care law. The Lancet297(7696), 405–412.

The special issue will cover a range of topics, including:

  • Comprehensive primary health care for specific populations, including
    – prison populations
    – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and First Nations
    – culturally and linguistically diverse communities
    – people living in poverty
    – populations experiencing homelessness and unhoused people
    – rural and remote health.
  • Models of care and health services research.
  • Team based care and exploration of scope of practice.
  • Policy innovations and funding models.
  • Community-based responses to the needs of marginalised and oppressed groups.

There’s more information on the special issue and the Australian Journal of Primary Health herehttps://www.publish.csiro.au/py/content/CallforPapers#1. Final submissions are due by 15 July 2022 but we’re asking that people submit EOIs in the form of an abstract by 30 March 2022.

Reflecting on 2021 for the Australian Journal of Primary Health

The past year has also seen significant changes in academic publishing. There has been an emphasis on rapid dissemination of research findings during the pandemic, increasing the prominence of pre-publication manuscripts and reinforcing the need for timely peer review. There has been a significant increase in the volume of manuscripts submitted, including to the AJPH.

At the same time, it is more difficult than ever to find peer reviewers for submitted articles. There has been a significant increase in the pressures on people’s time, through their paid jobs, but also because of juggling caring responsibilities during multiple lockdowns. Many people have been redeployed to support health systems and organisations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Australian Government’s decision to not provide any financial support to universities during the pandemic has led to thousands of jobs being lost across the sector over the past year, with more losses likely to come. Precarious employment has become even more entrenched and fewer people are in jobs that include service to the profession as part of their roles. This leads to fewer people being able to undertake reviews at the time we need high-quality peer review most.
— Read on www.publish.csiro.au/py/Fulltext/PYv27n6_ED

It’s been a pleasure being an Associate Editor for AJPH, and it was good to have this opportunity to reflect on the pst year with Virginia Lewis and Jenny Macmillan as I’m stepping down.

Ensuring culturally diverse communities aren’t left behind on the road out of COVID

“We are always engaged after there is a problem – never upfront. The damage that has been done is quite severe on the ground and there is a lot of feeling that this is racist”- Randa Kattan, CEO of the Arab Council Australia

Croakey published a comprehensive summary of the think tank workshop hosted by the UNSW School of Population Health and organised by my colleague A/Prof Holly Seale. It features some inspiring practical activities led by culturally diverse communities, and the findings of research from across Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria.

“This current pandemic again highlights that there is a critical need to ensure services, communication and efforts and other pandemic strategies are designed and delivered in a culturally responsive way,” she said. Seale stressed collaboration with people from CALD backgrounds, including refugee communities, was critical to improving future pandemic plans as well as continuing ongoing COVID-19 activities.

Engage and empower: ensuring culturally diverse communities aren’t left behind on the road out of COVID

CALD Community COVID-19 Think Tank: Enhancing engagement

Monday’s Think Tank, organised by A/Prof Holly Seale and the Multicultural Health Communication Service, was a big success. More than 80 people from four states participated in the webinar and workshop sessions.

Lots of issues were discussed, but some of the recurrent themes were:

  • The critical need for concise, timely, and accessible plain English information for multicultural communities, in order to enable official translations, but also so that commmunities can draw on ths information for ther own communication and messaging.
  • We need to be genuinely working with people and organisations who are already working with CALD communities, and who are trusted by them. In doing this we need to reduce the emphasis on “pushing out” messages, towards more genine dialogue.
  • Emphasise and reocgnise the strength of communities and work that has alrady been done. We also need to recognise that most of this has been voluntary and unpaid – and that resources are needed.
  • While there has been fantastic work done at local and regional levels, there is a still a need for coordination at state and Commonwealth levels.
  • Better information-sharing would reduce duplication of resources, but also enable capacity sharing (culural understanding and advice, translation, interpreting, etc).
  • Written information isn’t enough. Audio and video information is more shareable online, and helps to overcome the complexitiies of written information (too much is still written at a Grade 12 level, needs to be at a Grade 8 level).
  • Speed is critical to combat misinformation.

The next step will be to share a report and the videos from the event, as well as further coverage by Croakey. In the meantime, the tweets below show some of the research and resources that were shared,


Still time to register for Monday’s webinar on Enhancing communication and engagement amongst people from CALD communities with public health strategies

There’s still time to register for this webinar organised by the NSW Multicultural Communication Service and UNSW:

Enhancing communication and engagement amongst people from CALD communities with public health strategies: Lessons learnt & gaps remaining

Mon, September 20, 2021, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM AEST

Please note that the later workshops are now full, but people are very welcome to attend the webinar from 11am-12pm.