Multicultural Services Centre HACC Christmas Party

The Assistant Minister for Health Ken Wyatt AM, MP spoke at the Multicultural Services Centre HACC Christmas Party on 17 December 2015.

Page last updated: 21 December 2015

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17 December 2015

E&OE

Thank you for the kind introduction.

It’s a great pleasure to join so many friends of the Multicultural Services Centre for this Christmas celebration.

Certainly Christmas is a time that means different things to different people, however its essential messages ring true for all – tolerance, humility, generosity and respect.

So it’s fitting that the same virtues and qualities that make Christmas a time of joy, also underlie the spirit and practice of multiculturalism.

Multiculturalism has made Australia what it is today – a diverse society that celebrates a variety of cultural traditions.

For me personally, I am proud to be the first Indigenous member of the House of Representatives and the federal ministry.

I am also honoured to be the Assistant Minister for Health, and especially to have responsibility for aged care service delivery and implementation, aged care workforce and the Government’s response to dementia.

As you may be aware, aged care recently returned to its natural home within the health portfolio.

This is of particular significance because as we get older, aged care and health care become very closely connected.

And so it is important that these interconnected services reflect the diversity of our ageing population.

No doubt many of the older people here, people who receive assistance through this centre do not speak English as their first language. We shouldn’t regard that as unusual.

In fact around 20 per cent of Australians aged 65 years or over –more than 600,000 people – were born overseas in countries where English is not the spoken language.

Many of these people have contributed enormously to the economic and cultural wealth of our country.

This cultural diversity in our aged care system is only set to increase in future years. With 45 per cent of Australians born overseas, or with atleast one parent who was, multicultural Australia has become contemporary mainstream Australia. It is essential that this diversity is reflected in how we deliver aged care now and in to the future.

I certainly recognise and value that contribution and the Government is committed to ensuring that all Australians have access to high quality aged care services that are sensitive, inclusive and culturally appropriate.

In recent years, the Commonwealth has funded a number of programmes to encourage and assist aged care services in providing more specific care to culturally and linguistically diverse clients.

One of the major ways in which we are doing this is through the Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care (PICAC) programme.

This programme equips aged care providers with the necessary skills to deliver culturally appropriate care; and also improves the ability of older CALD people to make informed decisions about their aged care needs.

Recently, this programme was extended to June 2017 with a further $3.9 million in federal funding.

In fact, a new Western Australia PICAC provider will be announced by the Department of Health shortly with another looking at ways to make the new online aged care gateway – My Aged Care - even better for people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

The My Aged Care website has been a big step forward for older Australians, and their families, who are looking for information about the aged care services available in their local area, including residential care and other services such as Home and Community Care.

The website already recognises the needs of people from multicultural backgrounds, both in the information that service providers can display and in the screening and assessment form for new clients.

And the eight fact sheets about aged care services on the website have been translated into 18 languages.

As with anything, there will be further refinements to the website over time to make it even better and more useful.

However I do understand that providing culturally appropriate aged care means more than just translating a few key documents.

I’d like to conclude by thanking you for welcoming me here today. The Multicultural Services Centre of WA continues to be an example to others in cultural appropriate services. On behalf of the Government, I congratulate you for the work that you do.

I also want to take this opportunity to wish everyone here a very happy day at this gala celebration and a very happy and safe Christmas and festive period.

Thank you.

ENDS

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