Support services for culturally and linguistically diverse young people
We get that when you’re culturally and linguistically diverse, it might be hard to find appropriate support out there. Maybe a lot of the tips out there are things like ‘talk to your parents’, when that might not be right for you. Maybe you’ve had a bad experience with mainstream health services, or the professionals you’ve spoken to just don’t get you. But you don’t have to deal with tough times or mental health challenges on your own – you just have to know where to look for support. Here’s our guide to culturally diverse and aware support services.
Why is getting help important?
Getting help can assist you to better handle stressful situations and be the best version of yourself that you can be.
When you’re going through a tough time or dealing with challenges, the longer it goes on, the more your negative thought patterns and habits can affect you. Negativity builds up over time and the thoughts may become automatic. The sooner you get help, the sooner you’ll be able to move forward and feel better.
If you’re worried about what your parents, family or community think about your situation, remember that there’s no shame in seeking help. Being able to reach out for support is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you’re of age, you also don’t have to tell anyone that you’re getting help. Any conversations with support services or health professionals are strictly confidential, unless someone is at risk of harm. Check the age of confidentiality in your state here. .
Whether you need general CALD services, refugee support or asylum seeker resources, we’ve got you. We also have online options below if you have trouble getting enough privacy to speak to someone on your own.
Online, community and phone support services
Urgent help If you are distressed and need to speak with someone urgently, contact one of these urgent help hotlines. If you or someone else is in danger, call 000.
The Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT) FASSTT offers support and rehabilitation services for survivors who have come to Australia from overseas, such as refugees or asylum seekers. There’s an agency in every Australian state and territory – find yours here.
Refugee Council of Australia This national body is for refugees and people seeing asylum and those who support them. You can find factsheets, as well as lists of services, for each state.
Embrace Multicultural Mental Health Embrace offers mental health information translated into a range of languages.
ReachOut Online Community Going on to the Reachout online community is a way to connect with like-minded young people. You can read about other people’s experiences, comment on a post or make your own post. Check out the ReachOut ‘Culture’ space.
Mensline Free online and phone support for men in Australia, everywhere and at any time.
Phone: 1300 78 99 78 Available 24 hours, 7 days
Online and video chat Available 24 hours, 7 days
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Migrant and Refugee Settlement ServicesAdvocacy and referral services, including immediate assistance in times of financial crisis. They also offer English classes, family and community programs, sports and healthy living programs, and transport assistance.
Phone: (02) 6248 8577
New South Wales (NSW)
NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS)STARTTS offers free culturally appropriate counselling (individual, family and group) to refugees, asylum seekers and people from refugee-like backgrounds. They also provide a range of services, such as health education groups, psychiatric assessment and treatment, pain management, and excursions and camps for young people.
Phone: (02) 9646 6800
Transcultural Mental Health Centre (TMHC)TMHC offers mental health information translated into a range of languages.
Multicultural Problem Gambling Service for NSW Service that assists problem gamblers from culturally and linguistically diverse communities living in NSW. Assistance includes free telephone or face-to-face counselling in your preferred language.
Phone: (02) 9840 3898 Toll-free: 1800 856 800 Monday–Friday, 8.30 am – 5 pm
Settlement Services International (SSI)SSI offers support for newcomers, refugees and migrants, including support services for disability, health and wellbeing.
Northern Territory (NT)
Multicultural Council of the Northern Territory Providing advocacy and services for communities, families and individuals from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
Phone: (08) 8945 9122 Monday–Friday, 9 am – 5 pm
Queensland Transcultural Mental Health Centre (QTMHC) This clinical consultation service can provide information and advice in your language.
Phone: (07) 3317 1234 Toll-free: 1800 188 189 Monday–Friday, 8.30 am – 5 pm
South Australia (SA)
The Refugee Advocacy Service of South AustraliaA community legal centre offering pro-bono migration assistance to asylum seekers in South Australia who are eligible to apply for a Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) or a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV).
Migrant Resource CentreProviding community services for migrants, humanitarian entrants and refugees living in Tasmania.
Phone: (03) 6221 0999
Tasmanian Refugee Legal ServiceFree legal services to people of refugee background, humanitarian entrants and people seeking asylum in Tasmania.
Victorian Transcultural Mental HealthResources, webinars, support and interpreter services for Victorians.
Action on Disability within Ethnic CommunitiesLeading provider of disability and aged-care services in the multicultural community in Victoria.
Phone: (03) 9480 7000
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC)The ASRC provides help for asylum seekers, including food/materials aid, support services, health care and legal aid.
Phone: (03) 9326 6066 Monday–Friday, 10 am – 5 pm
Western Australia (WA)
Multicultural Services Centre Providing a range of programs and services to migrants and refugees, including for mental health, housing, emergency relief and disability.
Get support in your community
If you prefer getting support in your local community or through your network, here are some options that could work for you.
Friends, workmates or teammates
Many of your friends, workmates, classmates or teammates may have experienced mental health challenges themselves. Think about who you trust – it could be friends from school, work, sports teams or hobby clubs. More and more young people are recognising that these issues are important and are speaking out about them.
Some friends might be in the same situation as you are, unsure of whether you can talk about mental health or wellbeing. Taking the first step and initiating this conversation can open up a world of support from your friends. Here are our 6 steps to help you tackle difficult conversations.
If you belong to any community groups, such as religious or cultural groups or even sports teams, they might have leaders who are experienced with supporting the young people around them.
A GP can refer you to a mental health professional for extra support. You can check your local medical centre’s website to see a list of GPs, or contact the reception desk to ask about their doctors. You can request to see someone with experience in what you’re going through, or who speaks a certain language, or who is from a similar cultural background to you.
Check out Heartchat to find practitioners who speak your language. Check your eligibility to get a Medicare card and a mental health care plan.
School or university/TAFE
Most schools, unis and TAFEs have an on-site counsellor, available free of charge to students. Check your school, uni or TAFE’s website to find the on-site counsellor’s office hours and how to book an appointment. Many are also offering telehealth, online or over-the-phone sessions.
Using these services won’t negatively affect the school’s perception of you. The counsellor is also required to keep anything you say confidential, as long as no one is at risk of harm. This means that your teachers, parents and schoolmates won’t find out unless you want them to.
Many workplaces offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), which give free and confidential mental health and wellbeing support. If you’re of age and no one is at risk of harm, no one, including your employer, colleagues or manager, will know that you’ve used the program. If you’re unsure about whether your workplace has an EAP, check with your supervisor or HR manager.
Local Headspace centre
Headspace offers doctors, health workers and mental health professionals, for free or at a low cost, to those aged between 12 and 25. If you’re of age and no one is at risk of harm, the service is completely confidential. You can request to talk to someone from a similar background to you. Find your closest centre here.
If you feel comfortable, you could approach a family member for some help. This doesn’t have to be your parents – it could be a sibling, cousin, aunt or uncle, or another relative who you think might be open to hearing about what you’re going through.Here are some tips for talking to a parent or older family member about your wellbeing.
Check out your local library or council website to see what free groups they offer. Some council areas have cultural groups where you can go and meet others from a similar culture to you, or that offer cultural activities. Some independent places of worship or clubs are also centred around particular cultures. This isn’t an avenue for when you need help immediately, but in the future it can be a place to meet other people who understand your experience.
Social media support groups
Some therapists and community leaders have created social media groups and accounts to offer support. You can search for these accounts on Instagram and Facebook using terms that you’re interested in – for example, the name of your cultural group, ‘mental health’, ‘wellbeing’ or ‘therapist’.
Remember that social media isn’t therapy and the information that’s available might be general, but you may be able to find like-minded people and get support that way.