Background

Good Food for New Arrivals (GFNA) is a nutrition program targeting newly arrived refugee families to Australia who have young children. The program has two central tenets: community participation and the development of cultural competencies,  and has involved members of specific communities in conjunction with service providers in the development of nutrition resources. These resources are tailored to meet the needs of the community and, therefore, take a variety of forms. See www.asetts.org.au/nutrition

One of the key components of GFNA has been development of ‘nutrition champions' from among service providers and community members. A ‘nutrition champion' is defined as an individual or organisation who continues to highlight nutrition and subsequent health as a high priority for refugees while they are managing a range of settlement issues.

The initial GFNA program identified that awareness, knowledge and skills in the area of cultural diversity needed to be strengthened and were integral to the success of the program. In particular, these cultural competencies were required in order to be able to draw nutrition champions from a variety of professional fields and the community; improve access to Australian health systems; and tailor nutrition messages to take into account cultural diversity. In addition, it was identified that the development of such skills was applicable to not only this program but were essential across professions and organisations within health, education and welfare systems.

These subsequent training materials have been developed with a focus on individual and professional competencies in enhancing the capacity of individuals to undertake these roles.

The training materials are based around an experiential model of learning, with activities concentrating on building awareness, knowledge and skills and facilitating encounters with community groups.

The activities described are based on those undertaken by the GFNA project and although not exhaustive, provide practical examples from which service providers may develop activities relevant to their own roles and work settings.

Presented as individual modules, these materials may be integrated as part of ongoing professional and organisational cultural competency programs and/or be implemented as separate modules within such programs.