Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)

Almost a quarter of Australia's population was born overseas. With people from over 200 countries, Australia has a diverse mix of cultures (Multicultural Mental Health Australia, 2010). It is recognised that suicide by people born overseas represents around 25% of all suicides in Australia. The effect of migration, resettlement and integration on people can vary depending on a range of social, economic, environmental and personal factors. 

For some immigration is a very positive experience, including family reunion and better educational and employment opportunities.  However for others immigration can be traumatic or fail to meet their expectations. It is important to particularly consider suicide prevention in relation to people from CALD backgrounds for a number of reasons: 

  • The process of adapting to a new culture can in itself be a stressful experience particularly when there are wide differences in cultural beliefs, language, values and customs; 
  • For some who are elderly, socially isolated, suffer health problems or are unemployed, being separated from their culture and land of birth may be a traumatic experience that places them at risk of suicide; 
  • A significant number of people from CALD backgrounds do not seek help for mental health problems, or are reluctant to do so. Often, they miss out on suicide support services because information is not available in community languages, or there is no culturally appropriate service available; and
  • Refugees may have experienced war and trauma, fled their home country, and lost their family, friends and the entire social fabric of their lives. Their experiences may put them at risk for post traumatic stress disorder or depression (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007). 

For more information and resources, try the following:

  • Conduct a library search using the keywords 'culturally and linguistically diverse'    
  • View profiles of National Suicide Prevention Strategy CALD programs 
  • Read LIFE News issue 10: CALD (June 2010) 
  • Go to the CALD services links

Key organisations 

The following are some organisations specialising in matters for culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in Australia.

Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY)
CMY undertakes a range of programs, projects and policy initiatives aimed at enhancing the life opportunities of young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 

Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia (FECCA) 
FECCA is the national peak body representing Australians from CALD backgrounds.

Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHIMA) 
MHIMA provides national leadership in building greater awareness of mental health and suicide prevention among Australians from CALD backgrounds.

MIDonline: Multicultural Information on Depression 
MIDonline provides multilingual and culturally relevant information on depression for CALD adult populations in Australia. 

Transcultural Mental Health Centre (TMHC) 
TMHC provide clinical consultation and assessment, transcultural mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention, publication and resource development and education and training.