The Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing has launched a series of support lines to help older Australians receive important updates about the pandemic and aged care information in their first language.

The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line offers support in Greek, Arabic, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese and Italian.  

It is operated in partnership with Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre and All Graduates interpreters and translators with funding from the Australian Department of Health and support from the Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care Alliance.

Trained multilingual personnel at Spectrum MRC and All Graduates greet callers in their chosen language then direct them to multilingual guidance from the mainstream COVID-19 support line delivered by COTA Australia, the Older Persons Advocacy Network, National Seniors Australia and Dementia Australia.

Lisa Tribuzio

Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing manager Lisa Tribuzio said offering a phone line where people are greeted in-language sounded simple, but it was important to addressing the digital and literacy barriers many people from CALD backgrounds face.

“A plethora of health updates have been translated, sent to communities and posted on websites, however in many ways these have been incredibly confusing for older people from CALD backgrounds to navigate and access the information they need,” Ms Tribuzio said.

“It’s wonderful to see projects like this new multilingual support line help our sector and government to better tailor public health advice for these groups as language issues can present significant barriers for people in need of health updates and aged care services,” she said.

COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates said this was an important initiative that would help promote access to a wide range of information for older people who are multilingual or have English language barriers.

Spectrum MRC CEO Bernie Nott said the support line would help address  the anxiety people from CALD backgrounds have experienced during the pandemic.

“[It] also provide a new innovative platform that can now be adapted to any service type to create more inclusive and accessible services for all CALD communities,” Mr Nott said.

Ms Tribuzio said the support line was a step in the right direction, but far from the final solution.

“Our centre and PICAC Alliance are looking forward to continue working with government and the wider sector to integrate flexible approaches to inclusive practices from the very onset of service development and delivery.”

The support line is open Monday to Friday from 2-5pm AEST excluding public holidays and can be reached on:

  • 1800 549 849 for Arabic
  • 1800 549 848 for Cantonese
  • 1800 549 845 for Greek
  • 1800 549 844 for Italian
  • 1800 549 847 for Mandarin
  • 1800 549 846 for Vietnamese.

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