Australian Unity and Multicultural Care Assist have embarked on a new initiative to provide more targeted and culturally responsive disability services and aged care packages for Vietnamese and Indo Chinese Australians.
The partnership will help Vietnamese and Indo Chinese Australians access the disability support they require by addressing preferences and needs in relation to diet and dietary restrictions, language, cultural-specific values and activities and events related to cultural traditions.
Chief Executive Officer of Australian Unity Independent and Assisted Living, Kevin McCoy says there is a poor understanding of Government services amongst older Vietnamese and Indo Chinese Australians and a need to build their health literacy to improve access to services.
“After the Vietnam War in 1975, many Vietnamese and Indo Chinese people left their home countries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and sought refugee status in Australia,” he says.
“Thirty eight percent (84,320) of the Vietnamese population in Australia are now over 50 years of age and 56 percent of this group do not speak English well, or not at all, and due to living in a country at war they often had no formal schooling in their own language.
“If there were a group within our community that needed our help to improve their access to health information and essential services it would be our older Vietnamese and Indo Chinese Australians.”
Mr McCoy says strengthening the Vietnamese and Indo Chinese community’s awareness of the disability sector will help streamline their access to support services within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“The aged care and disability systems can be complicated and difficult to navigate at the best of times,” Mr McCoy says.
“However these pathways to support become increasingly challenging for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities and for people who English is a second language.”
Research commissioned by Australian Unity earlier this year showed that ‘Health information needs to be available and easily accessible for everyone.
There also needs to be a better understanding of the responsibilities that people need to take in their own health and wellbeing’.
Mr McCoy says improving our health literacy is vital to adopting a wellbeing-focused approach in our lives that makes better use of prevention and early intervention strategies.
“Australian Unity is supporting health literacy to empower personal accountability to keep people well as long as possible especially in communities where we know there are inherent language and literacy barriers,” he says.
“I look forward to continuing this important work with Multicultural Care Assist and ensuring we provide equitable, inclusive and accessible aged care and NDIS services to Vietnamese and Indo Chinese Australians.”