Above: A photo from a CALD aged care strategy consulation with Minister Butler in Melbourne last week.
By Yasmin Noone
The federal government will hand down a new, specific, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) aged care reform strategy before the end of 2012, the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, announced at a conference late last week.
The new CALD strategy will aim to ensure the application of the recently announced Living Longer. Living Better reform package is culturally inclusive, as will be all other future aged care policies and practices.
The minister, who revealed the government’s plans to create a new strategy during his presentation at the Cultural Diversity in Ageing 2012 Conference last Friday, said the announcement was the result of intensive engagement with sector stakeholders conducted over the last few months of 2011, meetings with CALD communities in Melbourne just before the conference, and other consultations with CALD communities throughout Sydney and Adelaide.
“…It’s my intention for us to develop, before the end of this year, a specific CALD aged care strategy,” Minister Butler said in his speech.
“The one we currently have was written in 1995 and almost two decades on I think it’s beyond time for us to update it, and make sure that it meets the needs and challenges of the 21st century, particularly the needs and challenges identified in the Living Longer. Living Better package.”
Minister Butler acknowledged that it is quite “ambitious” to develop the strategy before the end of 2012, but said “there’s no point developing a CALD aged care strategy if it’s released after we’ve done all the design work on what a consumer-directed care Home Care System will look like, or what the Gateway will look like, or how we’re going to roll out additional residential aged care licenses into the future”.
“We need to get cracking on it – we need to make sure it’s finalised in a way that has the support of the aged care sector and CALD communities so that we can feed our learnings from that strategy into the design process for a lot of the mainstream changes that are identified in Living Longer. Living Better.
“In addition to the Gateway, the changes to the Home Care system, the Home Support program that will incorporate HACC, the respite system and such like, there are some elements of LLLB that are specifically targeted at the CALD communities.
“Most obviously, there is a $25 million diversity fund that sits on top of existing grants programs for aged care. This fund is particularly targeted at improving the aged care sector’s capacity to deal with diversity and the largest group of diversity is cultural and linguistic diversity. So, how we’re going to design the guidelines for that program is something I want dealt with in this aged care strategy.”
He also added that the strategy will consider the impact of dementia on CALD communities.
“Multiculturalism has been extraordinary thing for our country over many, many decades. The ageing of our population must be seen in that prism of multiculturalism. We must repay the contribution of so many hundreds of thousands of older Australians who’ve been here for many decades, helping to build this community. We must repay that contribution by making sure that there are services and supports in place as they age that meet their cultural and linguistic needs.”
The Minister announced that the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) will coordinate the strategy in consultation with other CALD aged care sector organisations.
Chair of FECCA, Pino Migliorino, has welcomed the announcement as the strategy is something the organisation has been pushing for quite some time.
“Without this policy, you run the risk of having people from different backgrounds miss out and aged care organisations miss out, and carers miss out,” Mr Migliorino said.
“That’s what will happen if we make a whole new paradigm of care provision and design it from the ground up… unless there is a capacity in the system to enable [providers] to deal with the delivery of culturally inclusive services 10 years down the track”
The strategy will articulate a future direction for CALD-reforms, specify a CALD reform framework, ensure what the new system should look like, detail CALD considerations or each Living Longer. Living Better initiative, and build in capacity for further CALD-reform measures.
Mr Migliorino said even though the strategy is due in under six months, the timeline is doable.
Manager of the Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing, Ljubica Petrov, agreed and stressed that a well developed, well informed CALD aged care strategy is essential.
“A CALD strategy needs to be considered concurrently with all the other reforms, as they need to be inclusive,” Ms Petrov said.
“Cultural diversity is not something that can be seen as a separate silo. It should be addressed through the reforms introduced.”