Young people from migrant and ethnic minority backgrounds are recognised as emerging priority populations for reducing alcohol and other drug (AOD)-related harms in Australia. Limited research has investigated how service providers address AOD challenges in migrant communities. In this qualitative study, we interviewed 15 service providers from AOD, migrant support, community and other health services in a diverse region of Melbourne. Interviews explored the challenges that service providers faced and the strategies they implemented to engage with young migrants in relation to AOD use. Thematic analysis was used to generate four themes: stigma as a barrier to service delivery, intergenerational differences between young people and parents, the need for outreach and establishing trust and understanding over time. Service providers believed that stigma prevented many young people from migrant backgrounds having open conversations about their AOD use with family members and professionals. Participants perceived that some parents had less AOD-related knowledge and lower English language proficiency than their children creating challenges for effective communication. Service providers recognised the importance of engaging with young people in settings where they felt comfortable rather than expecting them to approach their service. Participants also acknowledged the need to invest time in establishing trust and understanding with young migrants so they could facilitate conversations about AOD use as relationships evolved. Although service providers had a strong understanding of young people’s needs, they found it challenging to build relationships in the context of funding and time constraints. Our results indicate the need for long-term funding and timelines that enable service providers to build strong relationships with young migrants, their families and their broader cultural communities to facilitate access to AOD support.
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