This qualitative study explores barriers to delivering sustainable rural community programmes to increase social participation among Australian ethnic seniors. In 2013, in-depth interviews were conducted with 14 stakeholders across eight rural/regional organisations that had received state government funding to provide social participation initiatives for ethnic seniors. Within interviews, participants were asked to outline factors that had enhanced or hindered their capacity to deliver the funded projects, and their plans for sustainability. Data were analysed thematically in accordance with Shediac-Rizkallah and Bone's (1998) tripartite programme sustainability framework (project design and implementation, organisational setting and broader community environment). Findings indicate that in the context of resource and staffing constraints and a lack of ethnic critical mass, programme sustainability reflected the increased capacity of rural ethnic seniors to integrate into existing community groups and maintain their own groups and activities. However, this is dependent on the ability of mainstream government, health and social care services to cater for diverse cultural needs and preferences, the ability of rural organisations to support ethnic seniors to manage their own cultural groups and activities, and the capacity of funding bodies, rural community and policy structures to maintain cultural sensitivity while compensating for the rural premium. In addition to identifying some key learnings for rural governments, health and community organisations, this research highlights the precarious nature of rural programme sustainability for ethnic seniors in the context of wider community, organisational and policy constraints.