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Older migrants face struggle in Australia

Older Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are struggling more than Australian-born adults in many areas of social and economic wellbeing, a new report has found.

Older Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are struggling more than Australian-born adults in many areas of social and economic wellbeing, a new report has found.

The National Seniors Australia Productive Ageing Centre report, The Ageing Experience of Australians from Migrant Backgrounds, which launched Tuesday (28 June 2011) , studied the ageing experiences of Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

National Seniors Australia general manager of policy and research, Peter Matwijiw, told DPS eNews the report was based on data from a 2006 census, and painted a detailed picture about this large and significant group of older Australians.

Mr Matwijiw said the report found there needed to be “better ways” to increase English proficiency in older adults from non-English speaking backgrounds, including those who had lived in Australia for many years.

“English proficiency among CALD older adults declines with increasing age and women are less likely than men to speak English well,” Mr Matwijiw said.

“We know that many dementia patients lose their ability to speak English and revert back to their native language. This also raises some important points about whether health and other services need to be tailored better to meet the needs of CALD Australians,” he said.

Mr Matwijiw said it was now time to look at the findings through different policy and cultural lenses to help older Australians from various backgrounds to improve their ageing experience.

He said Tuesday’s forum helped highlight the importance of providing the best aged and community care services to aged migrants.

“Aged care service providers are convinced that old CALD clients are unaware of accessing services available to them,” Mr Matwijiw said.

“It’s an overwhelming situation. Migrants don’t want to be invisible in 10 or 20 years.”

Some of the report’s findings:

  • One in five Australians aged 50 years and over is born in a non-English speaking country.
  • Older Australians of Italian and Greek origins are the two largest birthplace and language groups of CALD background.
  • Aged Australians from countries such as Lebanon, Turkey and Vietnam have lower levels of social and economic wellbeing than other CALD groups; and older Australians originally from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, India and Sri Lanka are better educated and have better incomes than other groups of CALD adults.
  • Older people of African descent are a newly emerging cultural group in Australia. Some African elders have said seniors in Australia are treated with less dignity than in their homeland.

Do you think older migrants face a challenge living in Australia? Let us know your thoughts on this report.

 

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