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Responding to experiences of violence disclosed by community members from CALD, migrant and refugee backgrounds

  • Responding effectively to domestic, family and sexual violence in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities requires cultural competence and sensitivity
  • Training can provide information to help you respond in a culturally competent way
  • Our Introduction to responding page is a good place to start if you would like more information about how to respond to CALD experiences of domestic, family and sexual violence.


inTouch offers a range of opportunities for professionals, volunteers and community members to develop their understanding and skills in working with culturally and linguistically diverse women and families who have experienced, or who are experiencing, domestic or family violence.

Focus areas of training provided by inTouch include:

  • Introduction to family violence in multicultural communities
  • Family violence in CALD communities: identification, response and referral
  • Family Violence in CALD communities: culturally responsive practice
  • Family Violence Prevention in Multicultural Communities
  • Working with children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (based on The Empty Jar resource kit)

For more information see the inTouch website.

Cultural competence

Cultural competence is an ongoing process that builds on the ability to interact effectively with people from different cultures. The general principles of cultural competence are:

  • Respect and appreciation of cultural diversity
  • Cultural awareness
  • Social justice
  • Entitlements and human rights
  • Equality and equity

When supporting someone from a CALD community, it is important to separate the persons experience of violence from their cultural background in terms of acknowledging that culture is not an excuse to perpetrate violence. It is also important to not make assumptions about the cultural background of the person who is using violence. In many cases, women from CALD backgrounds can experience domestic or family violence from Australian men who do not identify as having a culturally or linguistically diverse background.

Cross-cultural communication and engagement

Cross-cultural communication and engagement skills are a set of skills that facilitate communication across different cultural perspectives. It aims to make sure that messages, concepts and information can be heard, understood and respected.

Good cross-cultural communication is important because frontline workers might only have one or two windows of opportunity (see more below) to engage and support clients with disclosures, information and referral.

Skills in cross-cultural communication and engagement can assist in breaking down barriers and increasing access and safety for clients. Approaches to assisting CALD women are culturally responsive when they recognise people’s unique experiences and provide for diverse needs and circumstances.

While cultures are not static and are constantly changing, there are common elements on which workers may build a foundation of cultural awareness. In addition to the use of interpreters and translated materials the following cross-cultural communication tools offer insight into some practical engagement strategies: Understanding worldviews, and Talking about the system.

The inTouch website contains a range of resources for workers and professionals supporting people from CALD backgrounds who have experienced sexual, domestic and family violence.

Human rights framework

The Human Rights Framework for Improving Service Delivery to CALD Women looks at cultural competence and the rights of CALD women and their children to be safe from sexual assault, domestic and family violence.

The document is set out to provide managers with information and ideas on how to improve practice. A support worker may also use the Implementation Tools even before organisational change has taken place.

Download the Human Rights Framework for Improving Service Delivery to CALD Women.

Cultural competence when working with CALD communities

Cultural competence when working with CALD communities

CALD women face particular barriers to accessing services. This video explores techniques for working in a culturally competent way to ensure services are accessible. It includes information about forced marriage.

The window of opportunity

This video shows how a worker might use cross-cultural communication and engagements skills when a woman arrives at a community centre seeking support.

Window of opportunity: Cultural understanding

Window of opportunity: Cultural understanding

This video provides a case study of how a support worker can make the most of a window of opportunity for effective communication with a CALD client.