Victorian Government COVID-19 Response Package for Multicultural Communities

VictoriaThe Victorian Government has announced $11.3 million in funding over two years for a package of targeted supports to ensure that community organisations and services are equipped to respond to the urgent needs of multicultural and faith communities in Victoria.

1. How is the COVID-19 outbreak impacting multicultural and faith communities?

Multicultural communities are facing disproportionate and unique challenges as a result of COVID-19.

Government health restrictions means that many in our multicultural community cannot come together to embrace and celebrate cultural and religious festivities. Many people are experiencing social isolation and dislocation from their peers and communities, their cultures and faiths.

Some confront additional challenges in accessing services, because they are ineligible for federal government income support programs or because they are experiencing language or other barriers to access.

Many people rely on community and ethno-specific service providers to help them access government services, and physical distancing measures are making it hard for many organisations to reach those most vulnerable within their communities.

2. What is the purpose of this response package?

The package will strengthen and equip community organisations to respond to the pressures of COVID-19 and meet the immediate needs of vulnerable communities.

Through this support we will continue to strengthen connections to faith and culture, tackle racism, invest in our young people and help prevent violence against multicultural women.

We are also boosting support to refugees and asylum seekers, supporting families facing financial hardship, and making interpreting services more accessible.

Delivering this support now will ensure that on the other side of this pandemic, our vibrant multicultural sector is able to remain strong, and that our communities will be supported to continue their valuable contribution to society and to the economy.

3. Who will be supported through this response package?

The package has been developed to support groups that need it most during this crisis, including young people, vulnerable migrants (such as asylum seekers and refugees), communities experiencing increased incidents of racism, at-risk families and vulnerable women and children.

The package will also support up to 250 multicultural, faith and ethno-specific organisations and services through additional funding, to ensure their organisational capability is maintained so that they can continue to support their communities.

Additional funding to engage interpreters will help ensure that people have access to the interpreting services they need to effectively access services.

4.What is included in the response package?

The package will provide:

  • Almost $2 million to support community wellbeing and connection and deliver practical supports through existing networks and community organisations by providing community organisations and services with flexible funding to build online engagement and support their communities remotely.
  • Nearly $5 million to deliver initiatives to support at-risk families, promote youth wellbeing and address youth disengagement, including:
    – digitising outreach to young people through the Government’s Community Support Groups
    – leadership programs for young leaders to support their communities’ respond to COVID-19
    – community engagement and wellbeing initiatives for at-risk young people
    – support for families through the Government’s Community Support Groups, including through the expansion of family support packages to facilitate online engagement and learning, and purchase essential household items and food vouchers
  • $2.2 million to support asylum seekers and refugees facing financial hardship through basic needs assistance packages that provide practical support to buy food, clothing and other essential items
  • $1.1 million to support multicultural and ethno-specific organisations to deliver culturally appropriate family violence prevention and early intervention by proactively engaging with women and families in isolation
  • $1 million in additional funding to ensure that those who need interpreters can access them
  • $50,000 for the Victorian Multicultural Commission to work with community leaders to respond combat racism and work with community leaders to respond appropriately to racism incidents.

5. What is the Victorian Government doing for temporary and provisional migrants, including asylum seekers and refugees?

This package includes support for temporary and provisional migrants facing financial hardship through basic needs assistance packages that provide practical support to buy food, clothing and other essential items.

The package builds on dedicated support for temporary migrants in the recently announced $59.4 million Mental Health package in response to COVID-19.

Alongside implementation of the initiatives, the Victorian Government will continue to lobby the Commonwealth Government to expand access to supports for temporary and provisional migrants, including asylum seekers, for Medicare and COVID-19 support packages such as JobSeeker and JobKeeper.

6. When will the response package and media grants program be delivered?

The package will be delivered as quickly as possible to ensure multicultural communities are receiving appropriate support needed during this time. Further information and timeframes will be made available to eligible organisations shortly.

7. Will my organisation receive funding through the package or media grants program? What do I need to do? How will I know if my organisation is eligible?

The Department will be in contact with your organisation directly if your organisation is eligible to receive funding through the response package.

A competitive grants process will be undertaken for the multicultural media grants program. Further information will be available shortly at You can also subscribe to the e-alert to stay up to date with multicultural grant program announcements.

8. What about existing grants and programs funded through the Multicultural Affairs portfolio?

The package does not affect current grants provided by the Multicultural or Youth portfolios. If your organisation has a query or concern about current funding agreement with the department, please contact the Multicultural Affairs grants team at

9. What other Victorian Government support is available for multicultural and faith communities?

The Victorian Government has announced a range of supports available, including services tailored to multicultural and faith communities, including across mental health, family violence, employment and education.

Mental health, health and wellbeing

  • The Victorian Government has announced a $59.4 million funding package to help meet demand for mental health services, which includes tailored initiatives to support multicultural and faith groups.
  • The Victorian Government will provide inpatient and outpatient services related to COVID-19 free of charge to all people presenting to public hospitals and health services in Victoria, regardless of Medicare eligibility or residency status. This ensures temporary migrants who are not eligible for Medicare are provided with equitable healthcare during this crisis.
  • The DHHS website provides mental health and wellbeing advice to support Victorians to look after their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. A list of supports is also available.

Family violence

  • The Victorian Government is investing $40.2 million into crisis accommodation and specialist services for people suffering or at risk of family violence:
    – $20 million into short-term accommodation for family violence victim survivors who do not feel safe isolating or recovering from coronavirus (COVID-19) at home
    – $20.2 million to help Victorian family violence services meet the expected increase in demand during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and provide critical help for victim-survivors.
  • The Victorian Government has also announced that 12 women’s health services will share in $3 million over the next two years to continue their work in preventing family violence.
  • More information on family violence crisis response and support is provided on the DHHS Family violence crisis response and support during coronavirus webpage.

Employment and support for businesses

  • As part of the Victorian Government’s $1.7 billion Economic Survival Package, the $500 million Working for Victoria initiative helps Victorians, including people who have lost their jobs due to economic impacts of COVID-19 to find new work opportunities. This program is available to all temporary visa holders with legal rights to work in Australia, including international students.
  • The package includes the $500 million Business Support Fund, which supports small businesses in the sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Not-for-profit organisations can apply for grants under this program as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.
  • The Victorian Government’s Economic Survival Package complements the Commonwealth Government’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Call the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15 to get the latest information on the response to coronavirus (COVID-19) and how this affects businesses. This includes how to access financial support available through the state and national stimulus packages.

Schooling from home

  • To support Victorian students to learn from home, the Victorian Government will loan more than 48,000 laptops and tablets to students who do not have access to digital technologies
  • In addition, the Victorian Government will provide 5,000 SIM cards and 26,000 internet dongles to help meet the significant demand for internet access from Victorian students now they have moved to remote and flexible learning
  • The Victorian Government is also providing free interpreting and translating services for government schools to communicate with families for certain activities
  • Learning from home advice in your language guides are also available to support linguistically diverse families with online learning. Students or parents that need further assistance or discuss their own circumstances are encouraged to contact the Department of Education and Training’s parent and carers hotline on 1800 338 663

Support for international students

  • The Victorian Government has recently announced additional funding of $45 million to provide financial relief to international students in Victoria who have lost employment and are experiencing significant hardship as a result of COVID-19.
  • The Victorian Government’s Study Melbourne Student Centre (currently operating online and by telephone) can assist international students with advice on employment, accommodation, legal and mental health during COVID-19.

10. Where can I find more information relating to COVID-19?

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