The role of community leaders and other information intermediaries during the COVID-19 pandemic: insights from the multicultural sector in Australia

Holly Seale*, Ben Harris-Roxas, Anita Heywood, Ikram Abdi, Abela Mahimbo, Ashfaq Chauhan, Lisa Woodland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Community and religious leaders and other natural leaders from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds have been postulated as a gateway into communities. They act as information intermediaries that enable public health messages to reach individuals. However, there are currently limitations regarding our understanding of these information intermediaries’ regarding their capacity, role, and reach. In-depth interviews were undertaken to understand the perceptions of those working in Australia, including multicultural health, communication and other social support roles focused on CaLD communities, towards the role and impact of information intermediaries in promoting and supporting COVID-19 public health communication and engagement activities. Forty-six semi-structured telephone interviews were undertaken with key stakeholders who have an active role in delivering services and other social support to CaLD communities. Four key themes emerged related to the role of information intermediaries during the interviews. Ideas focused on their role in “bridging the gap” and supporting pandemic-related information delivery into communities. Participants felt that there had been a failure by Federal government agencies to recognise the role of these stakeholders early in the pandemic and a failure to provide sufficient resources and support. However, concerns were also raised that public health messages may be inappropriately interpreted or translated by the community information intermediaries or potentially blocked if the message does not align with the broker’s own beliefs. Finally, concerns were raised about the potential for burn-out among information intermediaries. In preparing and responding to pandemics and other disasters, community leaders and other information intermediaries recognise they have an important role to play and must be provided with resources to enhance and sustain their involvement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number174
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2022

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