Research Brief: Technology based inter-cultural engagement during times of crisis

Today we release the first in our new series of research briefs on migration and inclusion issues that have come to the fore during COVID-19 to provide an evidence base and inform future research.

Image credit: Headway

When Australia began its lock-down period in response to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre experienced a rapid shift to online communication and engagement. During this transition, we were mindful that our stakeholder colleagues were in the same boat, but with the added challenge of supporting vulnerable migrant groups in an online environment.

We surveyed our stakeholders, asking them what our research team could provide by way of an evidence base for the issues they were experiencing during this time of crisis. The survey results indicated that a major issue for many people was managing and maintaining technology based inter-cultural engagement as a means to continue working with, and providing support to communities. We soon discovered this was not merely a challenge during COVID-19, but one that would be relevant for enhancing intercultural, interactive online engagement in the post COVID-19 world.

Our first research brief titled, ‘The role of technology to facilitate and support intercultural engagement’, provides a review of the literature to better understand how NGOs, local governments, education and community sectors are engaging with diverse communities online. Our review highlights good practices of digitally based inter-cultural engagement initiatives across these sectors, but also reveals significant gaps in research and practice.

This research brief has provided the foundation for a new project that involves virtual in-depth interviews with key stakeholders in Australia, to better understand how their organisations have transitioned to, or built upon, technology based inter-cultural engagement during COVID-19. We hope to soon release a report on our findings to better understand how practices of technology based engagement are being developed, managed and responded to by the diverse communities they are targeting. If you are interested in participating, please contact our Research Manager, Rebecca Powell at rebecca.powell@monash.edu

This is the first research brief in our special series, ‘Cohesion during COVID-19’. We plan to publish a number of these on issues of importance and significance to provide a platform of evidence from the literature around these issues. Our next brief will be on the accentuation of hate speech and racism in times of crisis. We aim to release this in advance of our next MMIC public webinar titled ‘Hate speech during COVID-19’ scheduled for July 30. More information to follow. You can stay up to date by following us on Twitter @MigrationMonash