Migrant communities the target of new alcohol education campaign


Awareness about the potential pitfalls of alcohol has long been on offer – but not to everyone.

A new educational campaign aims to teach culturally and linguistically diverse communities about the potential health and social impacts of alcohol consumption.

The Connecting Diversity Project has released a series of videos in consultation with members of the Indian and Chin-Burmese communities in Australia, to promote health and wellbeing.

Alcohol and Drug Foundation project lead Kate Naish told SBS News alcohol education has been available for a long time – but not to everyone.

A key message from The Connecting Diversity Project.
A key message from The Connecting Diversity Project.

“It is really important to see something, to get a message in your own language. We want these communities to be able to engage with this material and identify with it, to have better outcomes,” she said.

Alcohol and Drug Foundation bicultural officer Dawt Tha Sung Thang is a member of the Chin-Burmese community and said alcohol is not as available in Burma.

“The Chin community is very focused on helping others, and they wanted to participate in this study to help the research and prevent any future problems with alcohol, although there is no record of issues with the [Australian-Chin-Burmese] community,” she said.

“We care about our community and we want everyone to understand the potential harms from alcohol.”

Indian Care vice president Anand Shome said cultural stigma around alcohol consumption in the Indian community was a barrier in learning the extent of alcohol issues among its members in Australia.

“We to be honest with you don’t have the information around issues with alcohol. We do have a shame associated with drinking, because traditionally it is frowned upon so to speak,” he said.

Dawt Tha Sung Thang talks to SBS News.
Dawt Tha Sung Thang talks to SBS News.

Mr Shome said Indian Care’s involvement in the Connecting Diversity Program was motivated by a need to create alcohol education that spoke to the Indian community in ways members would listen.

“This is an issue [alcohol related problems] in every community in Australia, but it is very difficult if you’re not seeing the information in your own native language, and culturally it is not given to you in ways that you will engage. This is what we wanted to do, to change things and address the problem outside the mainstream way.”

The Connecting Diversity Project includes videos in Hakha Chin, Burmese, Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Gujarati and English.

The videos cover subjects including the impact of alcohol on the body, calculations of a standard drink and recommended drinking guidelines and the benefits of cutting back alcohol to health.

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