Metro Assist has engaged with nearly 8500 community members and representatives, primarily from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and empower individuals with information to encourage vaccination.
In less than two months, the organisation made a positive impact on participants representing 32 ethnic groups and from 10 geographical regions.
It observed a change in response towards the COVID-19 vaccine within the communities and was able to learn other ways the pandemic had affected them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a devastating impact on some Sydney communities, creating new inequalities while exacerbated existing ones.
Disadvantaged communities, particularly people seeking asylum, refugees and newly arrived migrants, have been severely affected.
Metro Assist has taken steps to address these urgent and important concerns, including through fostering new partnerships and strengthening existing collaborations.
In addition to providing settlement support for many of its client cohorts, Metro Assist staff assisted clients to complete relevant forms such as COVID-19 pre-registration and helped clients book COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
Staff have also created awareness about health-related impacts of COVID-19 and highlighted the importance of protecting each other through COVID-19 safe behaviour.
Metro Assist has organised virtual information sessions and social media forums for the wider community, and reached out to individual clients through phone calls.
A COVID-19 vaccine forum for the Rohingya community conducted in the Rohingya language was particularly remarkable. It was the first occasion where five medical professionals from the Rohingya community attended a session in Australia and members from the Rohingya community from around Australia participated.
The event also created a platform for committed and hardworking members of Burmese Rohingya Community in Australia (BRCA) and Rohingya Medics Organisation (RMO) to show their solidarity with their community and empathise with their challenges.
The Metro Assist project was in collaboration with BRCA and RMO with generous funding from the Settlement Council of Australia. It not only created public awareness surrounding COVID-19, but also built resilience within the community and gave a ray of hope for many that together they could emerge from the crisis.