The outlook is much better now for people of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background who are aged, have a disability, or suffer mental problems.
A newly launched consultative and advisory body, the Positive CALD Ageing Network Committee (PCAN), is aimed at achieving the best possible care for older people. PCAN includes representatives of CALD aged care providers and consumer groups, as well as members from the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA). It is headed by the FECCA Chairperson, Mary Patetsos.
PCAN will meet at least four times a year to assist FECCA in policy and planning, convey its work to relevant community groups, listen to the views of CALD communities, and provide advice on aged care issues to Government.
FECCA has also formed an alliance with Mental Health Australia and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) to work with multicultural mental health consumers and carers, providing a renewed and much needed national focus on mental health and suicide prevention for people from CALD backgrounds.
Ms Patetsos outlined the importance of understanding cultural sensitives and complexities, as people from CALD backgrounds “can experience a number of unique challenges when accessing the mental health system”. The challenges include stigma and discrimination, language barriers, limited awareness of the supports available, and past trauma experiences.
FECCA also welcomed the release of the National Disability Insurance Agency's Cultural and Linguistic Diverse Strategy 2018. The strategy has been long-awaited and is an important step forward.
“More than a quarter of Australians were born overseas,” Ms Patetsos said. “Yet CALD Australians remain under-represented in those accessing disability services under the NDIS.”
Ms Patetsos said that the Federal Government needed to ensure that appropriate funds are provided to make it a success.