OBJECTIVE: To consider the challenges of communicating COVID-19 directives to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in Australia, and present evidence-based solutions to influence policy and practice on promoting relevant health behaviours; to advance participatory research methodologies for health behaviour change. Type of program or service: We present a case study of a participatory research collaboration between CALD community leaders and health behaviour change scientists during the COVID-19 crisis. The goal was to better understand the role of community leaders in shaping health behaviours in their communities and how that role might be leveraged for better health outcomes. METHODS: This article is the culmination of a series of dialogues between CALD community and advocacy leaders, and health behaviour change scientists in July 2020. The academic authors recruited 12 prominent CALD community leaders, conducted five semi-structured dialogues with small groups, and worked with all participants to develop insights that were applicable to the many different CALD communities represented in the research collaboration. RESULTS: Three key findings emerged: 1) partnerships between CALD leaders, communities and government are critical for effective health communication; 2) shifting behaviour requires moving beyond disseminating information to designing tailored solutions; and 3) the diverse needs and circumstances of people and communities must be at the centre of health communication and behaviour change strategies. LESSONS LEARNT: The collaborative process we undertook in this study enabled us to identify key challenges experienced and solutions offered by CALD leaders in communicating health information throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Partnering with communities that are subject to health messaging can reduce inequalities in healthcare communication by enabling the development of strategies that help align human behaviour with the recommendations of health experts. This - along with sustained partnership and collaboration with CALD communities, understanding the cultural context, and the appropriate tailoring and delivery of communications - will ensure health-related messages are not lost in translation. The lessons provided in this paper are applicable not only to the current pandemic but also to post-pandemic social and economic recovery.