National ‘Speak my language’ program launched at Parliament House


On Wednesday, 22 August, the Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, launched the national Speak My Language program. The new initiative harnesses the power of ethnic radio to help seniors and their families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds understand the latest changes to the Australian aged care system and help them to age well.

The Minister was joined by health care professionals, aged care experts, carers, consumers and representatives from ethnic radio across the country who have been working together to capture heart-warming conversations and stories about their aged care journeys.

Consultations conducted through the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW in 2016 and 2017 reported that over 80 per cent of people who accessed the bilingual information booths stated they had not heard about My Aged Care. Over 73 per cent reported they were not confident to pick up the phone to seek age care support due to language and cultural barriers. It was also reported that although over 70 per cent were aware of translation services, less than 27 per cent reported accessing these.

Minister Wyatt said the Turnbull Government was proud to fund the Speak My Language program, which will use the power of ethnic radio to encourage aged care discussions.

“We owe our older Australians an inclusive aged care system, one that embraces diversity,” Minister Wyatt said. “Talking about aged care and navigating the aged care system can be daunting for older Australians and their families, particularly those from diverse backgrounds. Innovative, community-based programs like this will undoubtedly make the journey easier for many of our most treasured citizens.”

The program utilises community radio, a common source of information for ethnic communities, to bridge the language gap between existing aged care resources and the CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) elderly, as well as encouraging them to make independent and informed decisions about their aged care needs.

The Chair of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW, Ms Marta Terracciano stated, “By harnessing the power of ethnic radio, Speak My Language can beam live on air to reach thousands of isolated seniors and families who have yet to be reached or assisted with the aged care service system.”

The Speak My Language program is designed to give the opportunity to CALD seniors to tell and listen their stories in their own language using their trusted ethnic radio program. By doing that, they will be able to connect with members of their own community and share strategies to overcome the ageing barriers, including isolation and difficulties to access the assistance they need.

The first series or recorded podcasts called “Café conversations” have been launched in English, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Serbian, Macedonian, Spanish, Hindi, Greek and Arabic. The program will be delivered in 25 languages and will be running until June 2019.

Speak My Language is funded by the Commonwealth under the Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund Research and Innovation Grants 2017, to ensure Australians in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities are equipped with the tools to engage with the Australian aged care system. The Program will engage 160 bilingual aged care facilitators and ethnic radio programs across NSW, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT who will capture over 1,000 CALD consumer stories and broadcast these live across ethnic radio airwaves to promote ageing well.

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