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Cultural competency in aged care across the tasman

Beautiful clear skies, a warm climate and the smell of the tropics set the scene for the Forever Young: Better Health and Wellbeing for our Culturally Diverse Older Australians conference held in Cairns, Queensland last month. The aim of the forum was to enhance the awareness of professionals and support service providers, community workers and health practitioners to deliver culturally-inclusive services, and improve the health and wellbeing of our culturally diverse older Australians. 

Speakers from around Australia and New Zealand were invited to present the research and services that support aging Australians, and on the conditions that affect this population group such as dementia, trauma and disability. Le Va was fortunate to be funded by the conference organisers Diversicare to present on behalf of Le Va about our work in cultural competency. 

The conference was opened by Henrietta Marrie of the Gimuy Walabarayindinji people – a leading advocate for Australia’s indigenous people. Henriettta has worked with the United Nations and is now working her community within the local council. 

Conference host Diversicare provides culturally-appropriate services to more than 1,300 consumers of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. They also provide specialist training, information and education to service providers and communities on a larger scale and to a much larger workforce.  

The perspective Le Va brought to the conference was our work in delivering the Engaging Pasifika programme, showcasing a foundational cultural competency training programme for health and disability workers to work more effectively with Pasifika communities. I presented Le Va’s focus and aspirations, and the challenges facing not only our Pasifika communities, but also those in our mainstream workforce.

In providing a snapshot of our Engaging Pasifika programme, it was the first time many in the audience understood the diversity of Pasifika across and within cultures and people, and it was amazing to see some foundational comprehension about our cultures and protocols and the challenges facing Pasifika. 

There were other presentations pushing the boundaries at the conference, and raising intriguing issues. Most notably Dr Cindy Jones with her research and training on dementia and sexuality, and Ian Nicol’s presentation on trauma and the soul. This last presentation resonates with me personally, and supported a Pasifika ‘point of difference’ view of spirituality.  

Our Pasifika presentation was warmly welcomed, and feedback was positive and encouraging in the sense that the cultural awareness of Pasifika communities in Australia and New Zealand was lifted for the important aged care workforce! 

About the author •
As Cultural and Relationships Manager, former All Black Saveatama Eroni Clarke connects and builds partnerships with stakeholders and ensures cultural appropriateness and safety is maintained across all of Le Va’s projects.

Covid-19 Update

Face-to-face workshops will not continue while New Zealand is at Level 4. We will be in contact with all participants soon.