SMECC formed the Sunraysia Multicultural Response Group (SMRG) in early 2022 when Mildura was experiencing its first big wave of Covid cases in the community.

The group’s main aim was to improve the local response to Covid-19 and other emergencies, and reduce the disproportionate health, economic and social impacts experienced by multicultural communities. We did this through community-led and locally based initiatives and culturally responsive engagement with community groups.

The group is made up of community leaders from 12 different cultural groups and meetings were attended by representatives from emergency and support services such as Mildura Police, SES, AMES, Mildura Council, Loddon Mallee Public Health Unit, Mildura Life Saving Club, CFA, and others. Meetings enabled information to flow between government, local service providers and leaders representing communities, and allowed for community advice to be valued and used in the implementation of key initiatives.

The SMRG Showcase was an event held at the Mildura Powerhouse Precinct Hall on October 4, 2023, and attended by more than 65 service provider staff. The event was opportunity for our Response Group leaders to share important information about their cultures and offer recommendations on how services can better work with multicultural groups during times of emergency going forward.

SMRG was developed with support from the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria’s Multicultural Regional Emergency Preparedness and Response Program, which was funded by the Victorian Government. It is maintained and coordinated through our Strategic Engagement Coordinator Initiative, which is funded by the Victorian Government through the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH).

The SMRG Showcase was supported by the Victorian Council of Social Service and One Red Step, as part of the Multicultural Resilience Project, jointly funded by the Australian and Victorian governments under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

Speech by SMRG member Kennedy Roga, president of the Tristate Wantoks Inc

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