© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Emergency messaging in highly multicultural societies can be problematic when the language of communication is restricted to the official language. The ‘ideal solution’— professional translation— is high-priced, mainly because of issues associated with ongoing cost burden, administrative/legal implications, and the challenge of finding available translators for every unique language pairs. Citizen translation can potentially help to break down the communication barriers between emergency authorities and people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background. However, emergency authorities in many countries are still sceptical about relying on non-professional citizen translators to engender emergency messaging in multiple languages. This paper presents new findings from an Australian case study to further establish the evidence base required to support a successful implementation of citizen translation. This qualitative research contributes by investigating how members of CALD communities respond to the messages or warnings issued by emergency authorities, including the implications that the observed responses have for implementing citizen translation of emergency messages. A distinct form of citizen translation, known as the Collaborative Translation of Emergency Messages (Co-TEM), is proposed along with its underlying principles for specifically delivering the translation of official warnings or emergency messages. The study reports on key findings from Co-TEM that could further strengthen or extend existing knowledge in citizen translation. It was observed that while citizen translators could successfully translate emergency messages, a major threat to Co-TEM is that the official messages to be translated are sometimes flawed with jargons, ambiguity and lack of clarity. Recommendations are made to address this issue.