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VOICE - Victorian Ongoing Initiative for Community Engagement

Inequitable engagement with multicultural communities and limited culturally appropriate service provision are not new issues; however, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted and exacerbated these inequities. Multicultural communities in Australia faced almost triple the rates of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 than those born here*.

Service providers working with Victoria’s multicultural communities need open communication with one another and with government. As we transition to pandemic recovery, there is a window of opportunity to build better systems and approaches which support collaboration and innovation.

Burnet Institute, in partnership with service providers and government, are building a strong platform to improve multicultural community engagement. VOICE will ensure that service providers can meaningfully collaborate, share information and expertise. This will mean concerns and emerging issues are rapidly surfaced with government, ensuring multidisciplinary responses are built rapidly and effectively. 

Community organisations have told us that one of their greatest challenges for sustaining impact is the fragmented service system and short-term funding for services. This has been particularly pronounced during the pandemic, where effective public health responses emerged rapidly in response to emergent issues but were then scaled back before their impact could be fully evaluated and understood.

To address this challenge, and the others identified above, we’ve conceived of and launched VOICE; a multi-modal program which seeks to create sustainable and innovative ways of harnessing community strengths, sharing learnings, growing impact, amplifying unmet needs and co-designing responses to emerging community challenges.

Our program uses a combination of traditional and digital community engagement, along with community and sector collaboration and partnerships, to work towards stronger public health practice in multicultural communities. VOICE is focused on helping communities, service providers and government to work together to achieve more sustainable and meaningful impact.

2022 - Ongoing

  • Share current and emerging public health needs
  • Problem-solve during emergencies (floods, pandemics, fires)
  • Best practice information sharing
  • Timely evidence-based support, tools and expertise
  • Use a co-designed digital platform to support the achievement of these aims

Through engagement, co-design, and research, we have defined the role of the program as:

  • Connecting community organisations with public health practitioners thereby bringing together multidisciplinary and community expertise to guide innovative and effective practice
  • Collecting and clearly communicating information on multicultural community needs and the strengths and opportunities to address them via our digital platform and other channels
  • Creating and sharing stories, tools and resources to grow good practice; showcasing, sustaining and building on the hard work of multicultural communities during the pandemic
  • Building stronger reciprocal relationships between service providers, policy makers, public health practitioners and communities so that multicultural community public health needs are understood and met, including through sustained funding and program evaluation and refinement
  • Strategising how what we do and learn can be applied to other communities facing social and structural disadvantage, and to broader public health and social issues and emergencies
Amy Kirwan

Amy Kirwan

Contact Amy Kirwan for more information about this project.



  • Department of Families, Fairness and Housing

Partners +

  • Centre for Multicultural Youth
  • Monash Action Lab
  • Islamic Museum of Australia
  • Your Community Health
  • Australian Multicultural Foundation