Funding for seniors from diverse backgrounds

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Seniors from diverse cultural backgrounds will be better connected to essential services in our local area through a new community initiative.

Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan MP recently announced Greater Shepparton City Council will receive an $80,000 grant through the Strengthening seniors inclusion and participation grants program.

“These grants are about strengthening community connections to help protect older people from experiencing isolation and loneliness,’’ Mr Donnellan said.

Greater Shepparton City Council will partner with the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District and other local groups to address barriers to social participation for local seniors over the next two years.

Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District manager Chris Hazelman says the funding will go towards the employment of a project worker by the Greater Shepparton City Council who will work in conjunction with local organisations.

Cr Hazelman said the role will be responsible for working out the essential needs and priorities of seniors in the local area to create an overall consultative framework.

‘‘We’re particularly interested in looking at the issues of social isolation and access to services from a multicultural perspective,’’ he said.

‘‘This might include the underutilisation of home based type services or even simpler, just being able to access computer based services and regular day to day things.

‘‘These are all important and we need to resolve these issues.’’

Cr Hazelman said the initiative is something his organisation had been passionate about implementing for a while.

‘‘We’ve been advocating for a long time because being socially isolated is a bad thing for people as they get older,’’ he said.

‘‘A lot of organisations will be working with the target group during the broader consultative process.

‘‘The more people we can get involved, the better the outcome for our community.’’

Cr Hazelman was delighted by the announcement and said the recruitment process will begin as soon as possible.

Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp welcomed the announcement, emphasising Greater Shepparton’s strong ethnic diversity with over 14 per cent of people born overseas.

“Our local communities see real benefits from the involvement of seniors, whatever their background,’’ he said.