Chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are on the rise in Australia and are now the nation’s leading cause of death and disability. Incidence of these conditions are higher in migrant communities than amongst the Australian born population. Raising awareness of type 2 diabetes and CVD and improving the accessibility of chronic disease prevention programs should therefore be a major public health priority for the nation.

The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) and Diabetes Victoria have undertaken in-depth consultations with members of Melbourne’s Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Arabic speaking communities to hear their perspectives on type 2 diabetes and CVD.

ECCV and Diabetes Victoria conducted research with people who had participated in Diabetes Victoria’s Life! program to determine how program content, delivery and promotion could be aligned more appropriately with the needs of each language community.

Further research was conducted with community members from these language groups who had not engaged with the Life! program, to determine levels of knowledge about type 2 diabetes and CVD. Research was conducted to examine how community members could be encouraged to think more about healthy living and to participate in chronic disease prevention programs.

Through these consultations, ECCV and Diabetes Victoria have gathered an understanding of the barriers and enablers to joining, participating in, and completing programs such as the Life! program.

Community consultations confirmed that people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds would benefit from learning more about how to reduce their risks of chronic disease, but are not always aware of the risk factors or lifestyle changes they can make to reduce their

It is important that organisations providing chronic disease prevention education tailor their programs to the needs of specific CALD communities. Tailored programs provide skills and knowledge in a culturally appropriate manner, appropriately translated resources, and education at accessible locations and through gatherings central to the lives of communities.

Community members who spoke with ECCV and Diabetes Victoria also emphasised the importance of learning with their peers, and with bicultural facilitators who can speak to them about culturally appropriate diets and exercise. Consultations also highlighted the importance of practical learning experiences, and of ongoing engagement with communities to ensure that lifestyle changes are sustained beyond the duration of prevention programs.

ECCV and Diabetes Victoria urge that the recommendations contained in this consultation report be considered by all organisations interested in attaining better health outcomes and reducing the incidence of chronic disease in multicultural communities.