The program partners working closely with each other are the MCCV, Palliative Care Victoria (PCV), the ECCV and the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health. The program entails the running of information sessions and the provision of an educational brochure on the subject in the Maltese language.
When this initiative was announced last August, the Victorian Government planned to provide Palliative Care Victoria with $400,000 funding, through the Strengthening Palliative Care policy, to work with multicultural organisations to raise awareness of, and access to, palliative care for people with a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) background.
Almost 24 per cent of Victorians were born overseas but people from CALD backgrounds only account for seven per cent of palliative care clients. The government recognised the need to address this imbalance, and one way of doing this is by raising community awareness of death and end-of-life care, including palliative care. It was felt that applying best practice approaches to health promotion and peer education within CALD communities is an effective way of raising awareness.
Present for the launch in Parkville were ECCV Chair Mr Eddie Micallef; MCCV President Professor Maurice Cauchi; PCV Chair Mr Michael Bramwell; PCV CEO Ms Odette Waanders; Health Promotion Manager of the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health Dr Joyce Jiang; and members of the MCCV Executive committee. Also present was MCCV Community and Education Coordinator, Paul Lia, who is leading this project for the Maltese community.
In his address Minister Davis said that this initiative is very strongly supported by the Victorian government. He said that “palliative care is a difficult topic for some people of all communities. Some communities have different views and a whole range of very legitimate ideas and concepts that are best discussed amongst the community.” For this reason, it is so important that organisations work in partnerships. Mr Davis recognised this initiative as “one of those examples where a partnership is going to deliver a much better outcome then otherwise would have occurred.”
Minister Davis said that “the Maltese community is a significant community in Melbourne. Boasting more than 20,000 people in Victoria, Maltese Australians arrived in Australia particularly from the 1950’s onwards.“
“Palliative care is important to all communities and around half the people who die each year in Victoria would benefit from palliative care. Yet just 7 per cent of palliative care services in Victoria are provided to people from a culturally and linguistically diverse background and that is very divergent when you think of the very significant percentage of our population that is from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. The government has recognised that need and the need to expand palliative care services for Victorians,” he said.
Minister Davis said that the Victorian government “recognises the need to expand palliative to those from a culturally and linguistically diverse background. There is a recognition that low intake is a direct reflection of a series of barriers to services in people’s language, a lack of understanding a healthy availability of services. Those services are largely free, and people don’t always know that.”
“Equally people have religious or other views that make them think this could be a bad thing or this might be something that we don’t need to avail ourselves of. But when this is talked about and the community understands that there are options available to them, which they can exercise choices that they can make as a family at points in their life when they may be making difficult decisions,” said the Health Minister.
Identifying some of the barriers, Mr Davis referred to the following factors:
- Different family structures and living arrangements, with families traditionally ensuring a loved one can comfortably die at home; and sometimes there is
- Stigma with discussions about death and dying; and
- Language difficulties are sometimes also a barrier.
Minister Davis said that “the research uncovered a range of direct feedback from CALD community members as to what was required to improve their utilisation of palliative care skills in our cultural and linguistically diverse communities. And that is often around information and that’s why the brochures and pamphlets are quite important providing factual, grounded, straightforward information that people can access in their own languages.”
The Maltese Culturally Responsive Palliative Care Community Education Initiative is designed to help Victorians from a Maltese background to learn more about palliative care and other support services for people who are seriously ill, and learn it in a manner that can inform and allay any cultural concerns or a reluctance to consider palliative care.
The education kit was tailored to address those concerns, and focus on issues such as family, religion, and attitudes to counselling, death and dying.
Mr Davis said that “consistent feedback from CALD communities that more information should be provided orally and in person, has been taken on board and is designed to help bilingual health educators share information with the Maltese community about the benefits of palliative care.”
The Minister said that “this complements funding from the Coalition Government to develop and provide 200 hours of education for palliative care workers,so that they can offer to people from CALD communities appropriate support. The kit encourages carers to work with palliative care professionals to learn more about managing the physical, social, medical and spiritual needs.”
Minister Davis said that “this is about increasing the health literacy of key CALD communities. It’s ultimately about the choices that people want to make, and people can make those choices if they have the information to enable them and their family to discuss these issues.”
He said that “while dying is a part of life, at the same time dying peacefully with family around without pain and with control over that process is important to people and it is important also that we make that available to people of all backgrounds. And that those barriers that are there be removed.”
Minister Davis wished the program well and thanked the Maltese Community Council for its support . He said that he looked forward to seeing the program implemented and that set of choices is being strengthened for people and their families at times that are very important to them.