Multicultural Care
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How can we ensure that welfare programs are meeting the needs of our vibrantly multicultural population?
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Multicultural Care

by Jessie Tu See Profile
Sydney NSW, Australia
5th Jun 2019
Multicultural Care

My parents came to Australia in 1992 with no English. If they were a generation older and didn’t have me to rely on, who could have helped them?

Many older migrant members of families join their children in a new country and depend on a younger English speaking family members for everyday necessities like shopping, paying bills, leisure activities and interacting with wider society.

These activities are challenging. If you have come from an entirely different culture, a new language feels alien and is frighteningly difficult to grasp. Seeking support is the first step — but even that is often a step burdened with emotional fragility.

Welfare programs are a necessary infrastructure of any stable democratic society. In Australia, we’ve historically seen generous programs designed for selected groups of individuals. While there is much to grieve about in regards to the dire schemes relating to Indigenous rights and sovereignty throughout the nation’s history, there have been programs that have offered widespread support for other minority groups.

In Sydney alone, there are vast and significant community populations. These include over 27,000 people from a diverse mix of countries including, China, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Lebanon, South Korea, Italy and Indonesia.

Each of these nations have unique cultural traditions and customs. Each of them contain individuals or groups of people who’ve migrated under perilous circumstances. Many of them carry trauma from their motherland, and many are still healing in their own personal ways.

In 2013, an 82-year old woman named Ibolya Nagy returned from a Sydney hospital after a hip replacement. Within weeks, she secured support from Multicultural Care in the form of Home Care Package, which includes Personal Care, Domestic Assistance, Home Maintenance and Shopping duties. Carers visited Nagy twice a week, and were also able to secure a physiotherapist after her hip replacement to manage her post-operation pain.

Nagy is one of thousands of Australians from a culturally and linguistically diverse background who find personal nourishment and home care support from Multicultural Care. Services are arranged, planned and implemented according to each unique individual and their needs, and involves multiple support units aggregating their skills and expertise to design a support plan that caters to each individual.

Broadly, programs include Short Term Restorative Care, an 8-week program that aims to slow the functional decline in elders and improve their overall well being through providing flexible care. This involves a multidisciplinary team of health professionals including doctors, nurses and health care specialists who identify and treat ongoing medical conditions in a comfortable and safe home setting.

Veterans’ Home Care Program is designed to assist veterans, war widows and widowers by providing low level care needs and enabling them to remain in their own home and avoid premature admission into residential care. However, admission into residential care uproots an individual’s life. New routines are learned, new faces and new facilities. The change of environment can be confronting, and for many, admission is not their first choice.

This is why domestic support from service providers at Multicultural Care are critical for the wellbeing and nourishment of those from racial and cultural minority groups. Seeking help is also an important first step. For many people from non-white cultural groups, seeking help carries weight that conflicts with their traditional customary beliefs — asking for help might insinuate weakness, and I am not weak.

Translation services might assist in disintegrating this mentality. Workers from Multicultural Care are all bilingual and offer support that may help break those long-held beliefs. To ask for help from a stranger to enter one’s home and assist with the household chores can be a daunting and emotionally heavy boundary to cross, but once it is crossed, individuals will benefit from the support. Domestic assistance can range from dishwashing and ironing and personal care includes assistance with grooming, bathing, showering and dressing.

One of the most exciting programs Multicultural Care provides is called the Horticulture Project, which is a year-long program where participants take part in a range of horticultural activities. This provides a range of learning opportunities which include developing pre-vocational and life-skills. Activities take place in “ordinary” settings such as schools, parks and gardens, ensuring that participants are still engaged within the wider public. Participants are always provided with multiple pathways to connect with their community. And that is important in a city like Sydney, no matter who you are.

Learn more about the Short Term Restorative Care and the Veterans Home Care Program.

Short Term Restorative Care Veterans Home Care Program
Jessie Tu

About Jessie Tu

Jessie Tu is a writer and performer from Sydney, Australia. She was a recipient of the Development Grants from the Australia Council for the Arts in early 2018 and winner of 2017 Joseph Furphy Literary Prize. Between 2016 - 2018, she travelled to New York City to complete her first novel. She has performed at the Sydney Writers Festival and published poems, essays and stories in The Guardian, Meanjin, Australian Book Review, Mascara Literary Review and Southerly. She was a shortlisted prize winner for the International Peter Porter Prize for poetry and runner up in the Deborah Cass Prize in 2017. Her first book of poems,“You should have told me we have nothing left” was published by Vagabond Press in March 2018.

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Power & Policy
Sydney NSW, Australia
5th June 2019

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