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Older Australians get access to pandemic advice with new multilingual support line

11th February 2021

Older Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds are set to receive tailored access to important COVID-19 updates and aged care information as the Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing launches the new multilingual COVID-19 support line this week.

While it’s been great to see governments and aged care services focus on providing critical health advice to older people during COVID-19, it’s become apparent that a one size fits all approach can exclude people, said Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing Manager, Lisa Tribuzio.

“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.

“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.”

Funded by the Australian Department of Health, the project offers six 1800 phone lines covering six languages - Greek, Arabic and Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese and Italian, where callers are greeted straight away in their chosen language.

All calls are triaged by trained multilingual personnel from Spectrum MRC, one of Australia’s most established migrant resource centres in partnership with All Graduates, industry leaders in language and interpreting services. Callers are then directed to multilingual guidance from the wider COVID-19 Support Line for older Australians that’s delivered by COTA Australia, OPAN, National Seniors Australia and Dementia Australia.

We witnessed firsthand the anxiety that people from CALD backgrounds experienced during the pandemic, said Spectrum CEO Bernie Nott.

“This support line help to address that, and 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.”

COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates further commended the project. “This is an important initiative which will help to promote access to a wide range of information for older people who are multilingual or have English language barriers.”

Lisa explains that this project is about ensuring the same level of access to aged care and health advice for all older Australians. “Offering a phone line where people are greeted in-language may sound simple, but it is incredibly important to addressing the digital and literacy barriers that we know many people from CALD backgrounds face.”

She advises that while a step in the right direction, the support line is far from a final solution for achieving this.

“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.”

CENTRE FOR CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN AGEING

The Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing provides expertise in culturally inclusive policy and practices for the aged services sector, and is proudly supported by not-for-profit aged care provider, Benetas.

ABOUT THE SUPPORT LINE

Older people, their families and carers can contact the multilingual Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line Monday to Friday between 2pm and 5pm AEST (except public holidays) on:

1800549844 - Italian
1800549845 - Greek
1800549846 - Vietnamese
1800549847 - Mandarin
1800549848 - Cantonese
1800549849 - Arabic

The multilingual older persons COVID-19 support line is coordinated by the Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing (supported by Benetas) in partnership with Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre and All graduates interpreters and translators and supported by the PICAC Alliance, OPAN, Dementia Australia, National Seniors Australia and COTA Australia. It’s further supported by media partner the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcaster’s Council.

Find out more on Multilingual Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line at: www.picacalliance.org