Alone together

Research Team: Dr Ruth De Souza (RMIT), Maria Dimopoulos (Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety), Deidre Ellem, Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth (RMIT), Dr Barbara Barbosa Neves (Monash University), Dr Juan Sanin (RMIT), Kate Renzenbrink (Bendigo Health) and Dr Jenny Waycott (University of Melbourne).

One in three older Australians is from a CALD background. Most older Australians (95.3%) live in private households and less than 20 % of all people aged 65 and older use care and support from formal health and aged care services. The COVID19 pandemic with its associated physical distancing and social isolation, presents additional challenges to the psychosocial wellbeing/ mental health for older adults living independently, in particular older CALD Australians who may experience additional barriers to maintaining wellbeing/ mental health. These barriers may be compounded with the shift to telehealth within health and mental health services during the pandemic.

It also means that the development of online culturally safe and appropriate models of care and their benefits and limitations for specific population groups require scrutiny and urgent investigation. However, our understanding of their experiences is still limited. This research explored some of the practices and perceptions around COVID19 strategies and telecare, in particular as related to psychosocial wellbeing/ mental health from the point of view of older adults from CALD backgrounds living independently in Melbourne. I was interviewed by SBS for the project.

A brief report was produced and I worked with the fabulous Safdar Ahmed to develop a narrative for the Guardian newspaper as a way of engaging broader publics in the research findings. I was also invited to present a Keynote address at the Cultural Diversity in Ageing Conference 2021 (Care to Communicate – Hearing the voices of older people) organised by the Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing. I also presented this work to The National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) weekly seminars and was interviewed on 3CR Community Radio, Melbourne​ by Priya Kunjan (Breakfast show) and on the Women on the Line show by Amy McMurtrie.