2015 Aged care changes

FECCA NCAN News Issue 3 2015

MCCSA – Helena’s Perspectives On Aged Care Changes.

South Australia has had a long history of providing ethno- specific services to its ageing population with a well- established Home and Community Care ( HACC) program across a range of smaller and larger communities and home care packages and residential facilities for some of its larger ethno- specific communities.

The current system is not perfect, however I am concerned that the current raft of aged care reforms may set back CALD communities 20 years.

There are several reasons why.

At the 2011 Census 19% of those aged 65 and over in South Australia were born in a non- English speaking country. 25% (ie. over 12000) of those aged 65 and over either do not speak English at all or do not speak it well. many in this group are heavily dependent on their ethno- specific aged services organisation for assistance. A 2015 survey completed by over 500 people from the Italian, Greek, Dutch, German, Croation, Ukranian, Chinese and Vietnamese day centre programs found that 86% relied a lot on their community workers for help accessing information, dealing with the Government and other matters. This is indicative of the community development role played by CALD providers. Weakening these providers fails to take into account the ripple effect it will have on the whole community which will also be weakened.

The proposed Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) fees, unless they are changed, will decimate Day Centre programs, reduce community connectedness, increase loneliness, weaken or close down some ethno- specific providers and weaken CALD communities overall. I believe that this will impact the system in other ways, for instance with higher rates of depression and anxiety and lower wellbeing.

For many CALD communities trust is essential before they will access services. I am concerned that as they lose the ability to go through a trusted worker or organisation speaking their language two things will happen. Firstly, they may not access the Gateway, and secondly, may not disclose pertinent information (due to issues such as shame, fear, mistrust or embarrassment).

Compared to accessing a community worker who speaks their language and who has a picture of the issues confronting their community such as post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), extended caring, gambling, etc., accessing the Gateway represents a substantial barrier to accessing services. CALD community workers can assist people to do so, however, there is no provision for them to be funded to do this. This means that in communities with very vulnerable members who speak no or poor English there will be huge pressure on workers to do unpaid work, something which is both unfair and unsustainable.

Once packages are allocated directly to consumers, I am concerned that CALD community members will miss out on a fair share of these packages simply because of their reluctance and/or inability to navigate this system which is both confronting and challenging for people with little or no English.

Instead of simplicity and streamlined access we may have barriers, instead of improved equity we may have increased inequity, and instead of community connectedness we may have fragmentation and isolation.

Written by Helena Kyriazopoulos, President Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia.