Australia is a dynamic multicultural country. Ours is a nation that is home to one of the world’s oldest culture and millions of people belonging to 270 ancestries. There is no doubt that our country’s progressive economic, cultural and social landscapes have been enhanced by contributions of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians.
As with the general population, the number of CALD Australians has increased in the last few years. The 2016 Census1 showed that over 6 million Australians were born overseas, comprising 26% of our entire population. The top countries of origin include England, New Zealand, China, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Italy, South Africa, Malaysia and Scotland. This increase is also true in terms of the number of older Australians, with 36% of those aged 65 and over having been born overseas2.
Recently, there has been a re-emphasis on a person- and family-centred approach towards palliative care. Defined as an approach that is “strongly responsive to the needs, preferences and values of people, their carers and families”3, a person- and family- centred palliative care clearly needs to be culturally sensitive and safe. This approach also emphasises the need for evidence to improve the quality and delivery of palliative care.
The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia (FECCA) has long been working to help provide older CALD Australians culturally-appropriate care and services. We have been conducting advocacy and research initiatives to identify areas for service improvement for older CALD Australians.
We know from our own research4 that older CALD Australians face more challenges. These include socio-economic disadvantages, English language barriers, cultural translation difficulties, lack of exposure to Australian services and systems, and lower rates of access to services. CALD carers and family members also use lower rates of support services.
We need quality evidence to be able to address the needs and challenges faced by our older CALD Australians and provide them person and family-centred palliative care. We need to continue to research, improve the comparability of results, increase the research participation of older CALD Australians, mine existing data sources and maintain the currency of the research database to ensure service and practice decisions can be based on the best available evidence.
Resources like CareSearch are very important in this regard. CareSearch does the valuable work of identifying, evaluating, synthesising and disseminating trustworthy information and the best available evidence on palliative care. It has a strict review, monitoring and feedback processes that ensure the quality of evidence and information it presents.
FECCA has been involved with CareSearch since its development. We are proud of the work that Helena Kyriazopoulos has done to represent FECCA and the voices of CALD Australians on palliative care. As an organisation, we are delighted to work together to help improve the palliative care journey of all CALD Australians. We congratulate CareSearch for reaching its 10th anniversary and wish it all the best in the future.
Mary Patetsos, Chairperson, Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia