Mental Health in Multicultural Australia

  • Harry MinasEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Mental Health and Illness Worldwide book series (MHIW)


Cultural and linguistic diversity is a core feature of the Australian population and a valued element of national identity. The proportion of the population that will be overseas-born is projected to be 32% by 2050. While a very active process of mental health system reform has been occurring for more than two decades – at national state and territory levels – the challenges presented by cultural and linguistic diversity have not been effectively met. A review of Australian research on mental health of immigrant and refugee communities and their patterns of mental health service use reveals many gaps. Although lower rates of utilization of specialist public mental health services by immigrants and refugees are repeatedly reported, the lack of adequate population data prohibits conclusions about whether the observed patterns constitute underutilization. There are virtually no data on quality of service outcomes. A review of studies published in four key Australian journals reveals considerable neglect of cultural and linguistic diversity in Australia’s mental health research. The purpose of this chapter, which is an abbreviated and updated version of Minas et al. (Int J Mental Health Syst 7(1):23, 2013), is to examine what is known about the mental health of immigrant and refugee communities in Australia, whether Australian mental health research pays adequate attention to the fact of cultural and linguistic diversity in the Australian population, and whether national mental health data collections support evidence-informed mental health policy and practice and mental health reform in multicultural Australia. A set of strategic actions is suggested to improve knowledge about, and policy and service responses to, mental health problems in immigrant and refugee communities.


Australia Multicultural society Mental health 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global and Cultural Mental Health Unit, Centre for Mental Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global HealthThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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