The federal government will provide $1.2 million in funding to multicultural organisations to deliver targeted health information about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
It comes a day after the government updated its advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine, increasing the age limit from.
There are fears the change to the health advice will increase existing vaccine hesitancy, especially among culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
On Thursday, Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government was moving into the “next stage” of the $41 million vaccination campaign, which includes a new focus on 40 to 59-year-olds.
“As increasing numbers of Australians become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the Australian government is ensuring everyone can have confidence in the vaccination program,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“Today we are launching a program to encourage their involvement in reaching out to their own communities about the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccination rollout.”
The funding will go towards a number of small grants for organisations to lead the information program, administered by the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council (FECCA).
Multicultural and interfaith leaders have been at the forefront of, disseminating public health information and encouraging vaccination.
“The community does not always access information from mainstream media, so there is a need to explore those channels, avenues, sources which the community – particularly people from non-English speaking backgrounds – usually tap into,” Africa Health Australia chair Vincent Ogu told SBS News earlier this year.
“Those avenues already exist, community-based organisations who can use local languages to translate information, so that people will begin to appreciate and trust the source of the information.”
An Australian National University report released in May found, with almost 45 per cent reporting they would get a safe and effective COVID-19 jab if it was available to them – compared to just under 55 per cent in the wider population.
“We are ensuring that regardless of cultural background or language spoken everyone is aware of the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine program, where they can access more information, and how they go about receiving their vaccine when eligible,” Minister for Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke said.
FECCA chief executive Mohammad Al-Khafaji said the grants would support local community leaders to ensure “information and messages are delivered to their communities by trusted members and in the best form to be understood and acted upon”.
“We thank multicultural communities who have done their part in tackling this pandemic, and we hope these small grants can support their important work.”
The community grants program will open on 21 June, with groups who are eager to participate encouraged to visit the.