Above: Pino Migliorino, chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia
By Linda Belardi.
The aged care system should stop treating CALD seniors as a ‘special needs’ group and instead start identifying them as core business, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) Chair, Pino Migliorino told a Sydney forum on Wednesday.
In a keynote address to the CALDWays Biannual Regional forum, Mr Migliorino said that with 30 per cent of people aged over 65 coming from a CALD background by 2021, diversity was the new mainstream.
“We need to reject the categorisation of CALD older people as a special needs group. We are not a special needs group,” he said.
“In the future it will be critical for all aged services to have the capacities and competencies to appropriately respond to diversity,” said Mr Migliorino.
“We need all aspects of the aged care services sector – generalist services, multicultural services and ethnic services to have cultural competence.”
Understanding the needs of an individual through a single lens can also be limiting, he said.
For example, CALD individuals might also have LGBTI needs or be experiencing homelessness.
“For some individuals, the importance of language and culture may be critical to the acceptance of a service, in order to overcome initial resistance, but not in the receiving of that service.”
Stronger political advocacy
To meet the challenges of integrating CALD perspectives into the design of care services, Mr Migliorino called for strong leadership and strong CALD advocates.
He said it was not acceptable for CALD representatives to avoid speaking up to government to demand reform for fear of jeopardizing government funding. Mr Migliorino said that the advocates for CALD older people needed to move to the front foot and to start “leading not following”.
CALD older people in Australia are currently underrepresented in all areas of aged care services, not because these services aren’t needed, but because the services don’t meet their needs.
“In terms of service delivery, we are accepting services that are below our required needs and we are not doing anything about it. CALD groups need to assert their legitimate right in society to access the resources they need,” he said.
Moving into a consumer-directed care (CDC) environment, it will be important to empower CALD groups to value their individual capacity to influence the system and to exercise choice.
“My concern is where do you position people who start from a deficit? We need to equip people with the ability to advocate for their own needs.”
Rosa Colanero, CEO, Multicultural Aged Care agreed that there is a danger that the move to CDC may result in continued inequities if not carefully implemented and evaluated.
“CDC is predicated on important values but it needs to be underpinned with proper training, knowledge and resources for older people to be able to exercise that choice,” she said.
At the forum there was widespread support for the government’s recently announced National Ageing and Aged Care Strategy for people from CALD backgrounds.
Mr Migliorino praised federal Minister for Ageing Mark Butler for his leadership and commitment to implementing a specific CALD aged care strategy, the first since 1985.
In October, DOHA will hand down its first annual report detailing progress towards achieving the initial goals of the 5-year, $25 million strategy.