As Victoria grapples with multiple clusters of Covid-19 across 10 suburbs, experts have warned against blaming culturally diverse communities for spreading or believing misinformation, following comments by the state’s chief health officer that appeared to hold conspiracy theories partially responsible for the spike.
“There are people who use social media from their country of origin or amongst their network of friends as their primary source of information,” Prof Brett Sutton said on Wednesday. “A lot of it tells them that it’s all rubbish messaging from the government.”
The director of Monash University’s migration and inclusion centre, Associate Professor Rebecca Wickes, said the government risked exposing migrant communities to unfair criticism by failing to provide more details after Sutton’s comments.
“Too many people think Covid-19 is a hoax, that’s not a belief confined to migrant communities,” Wickes said. “It would be good to have further clarification from the government about whether they believe it’s a problem of language and misunderstanding, or whether they really do think conspiracy theories have played a part in this cluster and if so, how. This information is not coming through. We can’t just push blame onto certain groups of people.”