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Tomorrow’s community leaders, today

29 people from diverse cultural backgrounds recently took part in a research study at Relationships Australia (SA), which aimed to explore the impact of community capacity-building programs on individuals and communities.

For 10 years, Relationships Australia (SA)’s PEACE Multicultural Service has been delivering the Certificate IV in Community Services (Information, Advice and Referral) as a core part of their community capacity-building programs. Each year at least 10 people from diverse backgrounds, particularly those who come from priority populations, successfully complete the certificate. This training is designed to engage culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, new arrivals and refugees in health promotion, with a focus on enhancing a community’s ability to address health related issues using existing assets and strengths.

The participants who took part in the study provided overwhelmingly positive feedback about the training, indicating that it had a substantial impact on their ability to take control of their own health issues, and encourage others to do the same. The training gave participants the confidence to engage in informal discussions with friends, family, and community members on topics such as sexually transmitted infections, blood borne viruses and same-sex attraction. Some participants also indicated that others in their community now seek them out to discuss their health issues, knowing that, having completed the training, they may be able to assist with referrals to relevant services. Many indicated that they have referred members of their networks to relevant health and welfare services.

The study found that the training has also taught participants how to engage effectively with the community, by understanding which health promotion strategies are likely to work in a given situation.

Overall, the study demonstrated that this community-led initiative by PEACE Multicultural Service has achieved significant advances in health promotion and helped to reduce the stigma and shame of STIs in the participants’ close family and community networks.

Find out more about PEACE Multicultural Service.