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Connecting older Chinese to their community

A program to connect Chinese people in Melbourne's east to their community has earned a Victorian aged and disability care provider an award for excellence from the Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing.
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Villa Maria's Out & About team leader, Angela Ng, (right), with participant, Lin Hou Hong.

Villa Maria’s White Road Activity and Respite Centre in Wantirna centre took out the Excellence in the Not For Profit Sector award for its ‘Out & About’ group.

The award, announced at the Cultural Diversity in Ageing Conference last Thursday, recognises a community organisation demonstrating outstanding initiatives that support the wellbeing of older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

White Road introduced the socially inclusive Out & About group in March last year for people living in the eastern region including the areas of Boroondara, Manningham, Monash, Maroondah, Knox, Whitehorse and Yarra Ranges.

It is specifically tailored to the needs of Chinese people aged over 65 with dementia, disability, mental illness or frailty, to ensure they are not left at home alone but instead are connected to each other and to the wider community.

Some 30 Chinese speaking people are registered for the group and it has an average weekly attendance of 15 people.

The group is supported by staff who speak Mandarin, Cantonese and regional dialects such as Shanghainese.

Not only do participants and staff share the same language, but the same cultural background and understanding, enabling trusting relationships to be quickly forged.

White Road team leader, Angela Ng, said receiving the award was an honour and privilege and recognised the great work of everyone at Villa Maria.

“Being a migrant from a CALD background, a social worker and someone who experienced carer’s stress in looking after elderly parents, I am glad that I am able to do something for our community,” Ms Ng said.

Paul Warwick, Villa Maria regional manager of eastern community services, said it was great recognition of a program that was supporting the wellbeing of older people from culturally diverse backgrounds.

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