Mental health impacts of racial discrimination in Victorian culturally and linguistically diverse communities

20 Nov 2012

The link between poorer physical and mental health and self-reported experiences of racism has been well documented. In 2010-2011 a survey of 1139 individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse communities in four Victorian localities examined types, settings and frequency of experiences of race-based discrimination and explored the impact of these experiences on mental health and wellbeing. This summary presents the key findings of the survey.

In 2007 VicHealth published findings from a survey of 4,000 Victorians, the majority of whom supported a society that included people from different cultures. These conclusions were published in the More than tolerance: Embracing diversity for health1 report. Yet approximately one in 10 of those surveyed held views that were blatantly racist (e.g. ‘some groups are inferior to others’; ‘people from different ‘races’ should not marry’) and approximately one in three suggested that they did not tolerate certain ethnic differences (e.g. the belief that some groups do not fit into Australian society).

The Localities Embracing and Accepting Diversity (LEAD) program was developed in response to these findings. LEAD was designed to trial new community interventions that address racism in two communities. The communities were selected due to their broad ethnic mix and local government commitment, not because they were any more or less racist than other localities. Two additional local government areas were selected as control sites because their demographic profiles matched the two pilot sites.

This research was conducted at the beginning of the LEAD program to ascertain the level of racism and its impacts on the mental health of CALD Victorians in these local government areas. It was envisaged that this research could inform the design of future evaluations and surveys.

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