Culturally appropriate service delivery

If you are planning to develop an initiative targeting new migrant groups, it is important that your project demonstrates an adequate level of understanding of culturally appropriate service delivery strategies. Remaining sensitive to the range of challenges that people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds face as minority groups in Australia is indeed key to successfully developing programs with a multicultural focus.

It is important to recognise that new migrant communities, particularly refugees,are commonly disadvantaged in comparison to the wider Australian community. Migration can be a difficult and traumatic experience for many people. New migrants and refugees often have to deal with a range of issues associated with their own pre-migration life experiences while at the same time negotiating new values, learning a new language, finding employment and understanding Australia’s underlying social and political principles.


As a starting point you should research and become well acquainted with the values, cultural and linguistic traditions, social and ethnic structures as well as geo-political history of the community you are planning to work with. This will enable you to effectively communicate and engage with community members and clearly identify their needs and aspirations.  There are a number of strategies that can help you in achieving a culturally appropriate working approach including:


  • Employment of staff experienced in working with multicultural groups to ensure unbiased service provision, empathy and respect;
  • Service delivery which is readily accessible, e.g. reduce the formalities associated with service provision and the functions of government organisations;
  • Responsive, non-threatening and welcoming, e.g. ‘meet and greet’ community members at their own place of gathering or during community activities after hours or on weekends;
  • Flexible and resourceful working approach to accommodate emerging needs and issues;
  • Employment of bi-cultural workers and bilingual staff where possible;
  • Free access to qualified interpreters;
  • Resources in relevant languages depending on your budget;
  • Consultation with community members;
  • Support structures such as working parties that involve community leaders from the target group;
  • Training and development of community leaders, e.g. to act as channels of communication;
  • Ability to source funding and link and refer to relevant agencies, services and communities.

Community-based service delivery models that effectively engage culturally specific and multicultural agencies potentially increase the ability of a project to achieve successful outcomes for new migrant groups. In addition, community-based service delivery models enhance our cultural awareness and expertise, and create new avenues of communication between mainstream agencies and new and emerging communities for a more culturally competent and inclusive society.

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