Mental health

with south sudanese



TEN ideas AND
THREE ventures

2020 has been an unprecedented year and the impact on mental health has been significant, with a quarter of the Australian population experiencing mild to moderate depression and anxiety. For South Sudanese Australians navigating multiple cultures, the pandemic adds additional strain to existing challenges, including the impact of racism and the taboo nature of mental health discussions.
“Mental health is a big issue and sometimes we deny it, which can lead to serious mental breakdowns if left without tackling it,” an older South Sudanese Australian told us.
To help improve the mental health of young people, South Sudanese Australian communities in Western metropolitan Melbourne developed and are currently delivering community led interventions. Together with TACSI these initiatives were supported by cohealth and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Led by young people, ten ideas were developed, with three of these then delivered and evaluated with community members. The three ventures have now been in implementation for five months and are ready to continue delivery, showcasing the resourcefulness and creativity of South Sudanese Australian communities.

10 ideas

03 ventures


The Culture Party is an event on Instagram Live celebrating South Sudanese Australian talent and simultaneously conducting live interviews with artists about mental health and wellbeing. The first live Culture Party was watched by more than 600 South Sudanese Australian young people.

Mental Health
Parents and
Children Film

Using film to share stories of older and younger generations and break down barriers. A ‘day in the life of’ film to help generations see life through each other’s eyes.

Paid roles for young
people with lived

Recruiting, training and employing young people who have a lived experience of mental ill health to support other young people. Could be running workshops and speaking about their experience, normalising mental ill health within the community.

Mental Health

Using film to share stories of older and younger generations and break down barriers. A ‘day in the life of’ film to help generations see life through each other’s eyes.

Third Culture

Bringing together Indigenous young people and South Sudanese Australian young people to connect and learn from each other’s unique experience.

Cool Culture

Fun, social opportunities to learn and practice culture. It could be dancing, theatre in Dinka, wrestling; young people would be involved in the organisation.

Medida and Chill

Come together in a safe space to share tea and medida (South Sudanese porridge). Share cultural information and do South Sudanese trivia. This program has been trialled with success already by Next in Colour and young people wanted to see it expand.


An online platform hosted by young people to open up and facilitate conversations with older South Sudnaese Australians about mental health and wellbeing. This idea builds on the existing platform of ‘Talk with Me’.

Fund and expand
the Off the Grid

Titan Debirioun has run a music program that aims to connect the South Sudanese diaspora. The idea would be to restart and expand this program, helping young people express their identity through music.

Men’s Day Spa

A male-led self-care day: relax and take care,while also learning about managing stress, anger, anxiety.

Three ideas were selected by South Sudanese Australians as the most likely to improve mental wellbeing outcomes. Under the umbrella name “South Sudanese Minds”, these ventures moved into delivery with young people leading the way.


Celebrating South Sudanese Australian talent

What is it?

The Culture Party is an event on Instagram LIve celebrating South Sudanese Australian talent and simultaneously conducting live interviews with artists/guests about mental health and wellbeing. Guests so far have included musicians, comedians, poets, podcasters, psychiatric nurses, advocates and more. The first live Culture Party was watched by more than 600 South Sudanese Australian young people.

What’s the impact so far?

Each Culture Party has been attended by around 140 South Sudanese people (an estimate of 11.5% of the young South Sudanese Australians in Victoria based on 2016 census data), with a maximum of over 600 people joining to watch more well known artists and a fairly even mix of genders. Over six live sessions (and counting), guests candidly shared their mental health journeys, with audience members relating to these stories in the chats with robust discussion and comments. Many guests spoke about the challenge of talking openly about mental health, particularly with family, and discussed the key role that close friends play in these personal conversations. When there was a mental health professional on the live, people asked about available support, and shared how hard it was to find a professional that understood the South Sudanese Australian experience.


Learning about keeping ourselves well and helping others.

What is it?

A few different events, services and activities to provide culturally safe, informal and professional mental health support for young people and their parents. Mindfulness Monday is a regular video conference for young people to check in, reflect on the week and their wellbeing with the support of peers and a counsellor. It provides subsidised counselling for young people needing professional support is another avenue, as well as a growing network of participants who can support each other. These activities lead into the offer of formal suicide prevention training throught the LivingWorks Start program.

What’s the impact so far?

This venture is in the early stages, as it has needed more substantial adaptation to move online. As of October, the team has run two trials of Mindfulness Monday mental health debriefing with Ethiopian Australian counsellor Halakhe Gunyu. Young people told us that the Mindfulness Mondays were ‘amazing’, and during the first session people requested that it be held regularly. In these sessions, the professional counsellor was able to offer young people strategies to enhance their wellbeing. We are now offering 12 free counselling sessions for young people and parents and have established a network for people who have taken part in the mental health training so they can stay in touch and support each other. In other ventures people have shared how hard it is to find mental health professionals and supports that understand the South Sudanese Australian experience, and the free counselling sessions with an Ethiopian Australian or South Sudanese Australian counsellor are in direct response to this feedback.


Younger and older people talking about taboo mental health topics.

What is it?

Fortnightly conversations live streamed to Facebook on what matters when it comes to mental health for older and younger South Sudanese Australians, building understanding and empathy of the different experiences across generations. Conversations usually include older and younger people discussing an issue, with some special sessions focussing on one generation, gender or other group. It is the mental health spin-off of ‘Talk With Me’, a program where generations talk more generally.

What’s the impact so far?

Building on the ‘Talk with Me’ Facebook platform as well as the personal accounts of hosts Nanchok (Monica) Chol and Aguang (Anthony) Daw, Conversations between Generations has had extensive reach, exposing many people to frank mental health discussions from different age groups. Across seven live streams so far, there have been over 7800 views of the conversations. Particularly popular was a discussion with young male guests, on how men are affected by and manage their mental health. This episode has 2900 views so far, and received lots of encouragement from viewers. Guests to the conversations told us that they appreciated hearing from the other generation’s perspective and it helped them better understand that generation’s mental health experience. Viewers commented commending the hosts, wanting to pass the video on to others, sharing their own experience and requesting new topics. The conversations have been shared 56 times, including to popular social media group ‘African Australian’ which has 33,823 followers.

“Hi my boys, I’m really happy to see you all here talking about things that matter to you and us as parents. 😍” - Older audience member


want to help
bring these
ideas to life?

These ideas and ventures have great momentum, and now we’re seeking partners to continue this energy and community. The opportunity is to support cost-effective, shovel ready projects, working with a strong and committed group of young people to make a difference to wellbeing in the South Sudanese Australian community.


Awak Rech Kongor Gak

An aspiring Screenplay Writer/Filmmaker and Youth Worker, I am passionate about my community and actively advocate for young people and their Mental Health & Wellbeing in the South Sudanese Community.

Nayndng Mayen

[Written on Nayndng’s behalf] Nayndng joined the project to work on ‘Culture Party’, bringing their creative skills and networks to the team. Nayndng has been co-hosting Culture Parties and asking guests reflective questions about how they take care of their mental health in order to work toward their goals.

Anthony Aguang William
Malouk Majak Daw

Hi I’m Anthony Aguang William Malouk Majak Daw, I’m from a South Sudanese background. I’m working on “Conversations Between Generations”. We aim to normalise tough conversations around mental health, asking for help, navigating life’s challenges.


I originate from South Sudan, grew up in Uganda and moved to Australia at the age of 10. I am studying a diploma of information and youth work. I joined this project because I want to run this mental health project in the South Sudanese community for young people and parents who are going through challenges and hard times in Australia.

Nanchok Chol

My name is Nanchok Chol and I have been a Delivery Lead for the “Conversations between Generations” which focuses primarily on creating more awareness and conversations about mental health within the South Sudanese community. Mental health is a very taboo subject within my community.

aTOUG deng

[Written on Atoug’s behalf] Atoug has been working on ‘Culture Parties’, doing important work behind the scenes to help everything run smoothly.

Acknowledgement of the

traditional land owners

Young People of the South Sudanese Australian Community within the Western metropolitan of Melbourne would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation, of which this project and research were conducted on.

Young People of the South Sudanese Australian Community acknowledge that sovereignty had never been ceded in Australia, and we extend our efforts and support to the First Nations and Indigenous people in the upheaval of justice and righting wrongs.

The young people of the South Sudanese Australian Community pay their respects and acknowledge the collective efforts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people as leaders and community advocates.

To Elders past, present and emerging of the Kulin Nation, we pay our respects, and extend our respects to Indigenous and First Nations, Nation-wide.