South Sudanese Australian Minds

TACSI worked with South Sudanese Australian communities, providers and government to develop and trial ideas to improve mental health and wellbeing in response to devastating losses of young people in the communities to suicide.

The background

Melbourne is home to the largest number of people with South Sudanese backgrounds in Australia. In 2018 when TACSI began this work, the communities were experiencing increasing scrutiny, in a way that was divisive, racist and harmful to their success in Australia. 

In response, DHHS and coHealth supported TACSI to partner with South Sudanese Australian communities to collectively propose ways to enable the South Sudanese Australian community in Australia to thrive. That project resulted in the funding of ‘Talk with Me;’ a program that connects generations within the South Sudanese Australian community. Read more about that project here.

This second project specifically focused on improving mental health for young people. Our partners were again South Sudanese Australian community members, DHHS and coHealth as well as the North Western Primary Health Network. This project was catalysed by a tragic string of suicides and stress related deaths. South Sudanese Australian communities and partners wanted to develop community led solutions to improve young people’s wellbeing.

Our approach

Over a six month period in 2020, a team of young people worked with us to learn skills to invite their peers into conversations about mental health, and to analyse what they’ve heard.

Community Connector roles created space for young people to learn from each other, discover that they weren’t alone in their experience, and suggest ideas that would remove barriers to mental wellbeing for young South Sudanese Australians.


TACSI coached teams of South Sudanese Australian young people as they developed 10 initiatives in response to what they heard from their peers in the community. Three ideas were selected by the communities and the governance group.

The three ideas were documented and planned with the young people. As they trialled the ideas, we worked alongside them to help them tweak and adapt the ideas to further improve mental health, especially during the additional challenge of Covid-19.

10 ideas led by young people

Led by young people, the following ten ideas were developed, with three of these then delivered and evaluated with community members.

The Culture Party

An event on Instagram Live celebrating South Sudanese Australian talent and simultaneously conducting live interviews with artists about mental health and wellbeing.


Medida & 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.

Off the Grid

Titan Debirioun has long run a music program that aims to connect the South Sudanese diaspora. The idea was 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.

3rd Culture Connections

Bringing together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and South Sudanese Australian young people to connect and learn from each other’s unique experience.


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.

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.


Mental health training

Culturally safe and informal mental health training for young people. This idea is also about building a network of young people with mental health training who can support each other. We also ran subsidised counselling for young people needing professional support.

Conversations between generations

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’.


Paid roles for young people with lived experience

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

Three ventures

From the above 10 ideas, three 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.
The Culture Party
Mental health training
Conversations between generations
The Culture Party

Celebrating South Sudanese Australian talent

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. The initiative continues beyond the end of the project in the format of ‘Artist to artist’ conversations run by Nanchok Chol, Aguang Daw and Farida Machar.

Mental health training

Learning about keeping ourselves well and helping others

This venture consisted of 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. This started a growing network of participants who want to discuss mental health and can support each other.

Free, culturally appropriate counselling for young people needing professional support was another offer, with four young people receiving three sessions each. 

The LivingWorks Start program was provided to young people in the project team, helping them to take care of themselves and support their peers in this initiative.

Conversations between generations

Younger and older people talking about taboo mental health topics

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 included 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.

Meet the brilliant South Sudanese Australians behind these big ideas

Collaborating in crisis cover photo.

The impact

Three of the ten ventures were delivered for eight months by five young South Sudanese Australians. Nanchok Chol, Aguang Daw and Farida Machar continue to deliver a next iteration of the initiatives under the banner ‘South Sudanese Australian Minds’.

All ventures moved online, with some offline components. Instagram and Facebook live streams had up to 2900 viewers with many interactions, comments and shares.

Having conversations about mental health in South Sudanese Australian communities reaching people at this scale combined with the research young people shared at the start, tells us that people don’t often have the opportunity and safety to talk and that when the space is created, people are ready for the discussion.


The initiatives normalised conversations about mental health and model safe discussions. One of the ventures also connected four young people with culturally appropriate counselling, and more young people have inquired into counselling as referred by their peers in the discussions.

Multiple national social service networks have invited Nanchok, Aguang and Farida to talk about this project to their networks and have admired the approach taken.

Read more about the project in our South Sudanese Australian Minds showcase report

Read the report

Our commitment to First Nations First

​​South Sudanese Australian young people from this project and beyond practice a great respect for Traditional Owners whose lands their families travelled to to find safety and opportunity. We encourage you to read the Acknowledgement of Country at the start of the South Sudanese Australian Minds report.

Read more

Meet the team behind South Sudanese Minds

What to get involved?

Nanchok, Aguang and Farida are having conversations with potential partners to support the continuation and scale of the ventures. There is interest in a national offering as they are all online.

Send an email
We're social
Get in touch

Level 1, 279 Flinders St
Adelaide SA 5000

1/145 Redfern Street

Redfern NSW 2016

Subscribe to our newsletter
Be the first to hear about TACSI events, resources, our big ideas, and new projects.
© 2024 TACSI
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and Owners of the lands in which we work and live on across Australia. We pay our respects to Elders of the past, present and emerging. We are committed to collaboration that furthers self-determination and creates a better future for all. Please note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material.
At TACSI, diversity and inclusion is more than a statement; equality and accessibility are guiding principles embedded in everything we do. We strongly believe that it’s the collective sum of all our communities differences, life experiences, and knowledge that enables both ourselves and our partners to come together to tackle complex social issues. That’s why we’re committed to having a diverse team made up of people with diverse skills from all backgrounds, including First Nations peoples, LGBTIQ+, mature-age people, and people with visible and non-visible disabilities, regardless of sex, sexuality or gender identity.