Imagine moving to another country, another culture, you have been victim to extreme domestic violence, you don’t speak or understand a word of the language spoken by the people where you now live, you don’t drive and you have four children to care for. Where do you go and who do you turn to?
I feel that I am fortunate. I have grown up in Perth in a loving and caring family, I have great friends, I’m aware of and have access to all the services and supports I require, and a world of opportunities at my door step. This is not everybody’s reality, as is the case of the woman whose story is told below.
Having worked at the Independent Living Centre WA (ILC) for the past 18 months I’ve heard many people’s stories, some tear jerkers – happy and sad tears. I’ve also been exposed to a range of community services that exist solely to support people with a disability, older people and carers. If I didn’t work in this sector, and considering that I don’t fall into these demographics, I wouldn’t be as aware as I am today of the many fantastic services available in my community.
Because there is such a diverse range of services, provided by organisations with different target audiences and goals, it is difficult for everyone working in the disability and aged care sectors to be across every single service that every organisation offers, who is eligible for support and how to link clients into these services. Time and available resources obviously also comes into play.
I came across the story below at work recently and wanted to share it because it demonstrates programs being flexible and working well together to truly provide the best possible support for a family in obvious need.
Linkages to community services for this family will undoubtedly make a positive difference to their lives; however this doesn’t always happen. When I hear about other stories like this I’m sometimes left wondering ‘can’t more be done for this person?’; ‘why don’t they know about that service already?’; ‘why didn’t someone tell that person they could get other assistance?’
This is the story I would like to share.
A young mother of four, who was born in a Middle Eastern country and is now a resident in Australia, was referred to the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) for in home support from Home and Community Care (HACC).
The woman does not drive and does not speak any English. Both she and her family have been the victims of extreme domestic violence which has resulted in significant physical and psychological trauma.
The woman’s eldest daughter, at 16 years of age, is the primary carer for her mum. She assists with personal care tasks, looking after the three younger children, shopping, translating, cooking and some domestic tasks, all whilst trying to complete her schooling.
It had been identified early on that there was a young carer involved in the household and she had been connected to the Young Carers Program through the Commonwealth Respite & Carelink Centre (CRCC). This program is mainly providing assistance in the form of tutoring but it is also funding driving lessons so that the young carer will be able to assist the family with getting around in the future.
The RAS assessment was completed with all four children present as well as an independent interpreter and advocate. It was established that the woman’s most pressing needs were access to transport for medical appointments, shopping assistance and domestic support. These supports would also relieve some of the responsibility from the young carer.
The Coordinator from the Young Carers Program was also involved to a degree in the assessment and offered to purchase any items needed to assist with the cleaning, such as a vacuum cleaner, mop and cleaning products.
The main difficulty to these supports being successful and relevant was the language barrier so the RAS assessor endeavoured to locate a support person with a similar Arabic language. However, there was no one available at the time.
The referral was made to a culturally appropriate service provider who would be able to accommodate the woman in the new financial year when new funding became available.
In the meantime, ILC MACS (Multicultural Aged Care Service) was contacted regarding communication cards so that the client would have some rudimentary way of communicating relevant needs to support staff.
ILC MACS also provided the assessor with information on an organisation called Takreem Home and Community Care, which is another alternative to service provision.
It brings a smile to my face when I hear good stories about how services work well together to truly offer great support for an individual, or in this case, a family.
There is no doubt that we live in a community that offers many wonderful services. But I think that there is always room for improvement and we should strive to continually improve our services so that everyone that needs assistance is offered the best possible support.
For people who may be in a similar situation as the woman spoken about in this article, below is a list of some services that may be able to offer some assistance.
- ILC MACS – ILC multicultural aged care service for information and resources
- ASeTTS – Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors
- Ishar – Multicultural Women’s Health Centre
- Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre – Support services for newly arrived migrants