Australia is one of the most ethnically diverse nations, with recent data projections demonstrating that migrant communities are ageing at a significantly faster rate than the general population: by 2020 around 30% of the aged population aged 65 years and above will be from CALD backgrounds. Despite this, people from ethnically diverse communities remain under-represented in aged care services and reports suggests that they struggle to find appropriate aged care services that can be highly responsive to specific cultural needs.
For a long time, ethnically diverse community members advocated for grassroots, bottom-up solutions to the issues experienced in their communities. This unmet need gave rise to Umbrella Multicultural Community Care Services Inc in 2000. The original Umbrella HACC program was commenced on the 1st July 2000, whilst the organisation was officially incorporated in April 2004.
The founders of Umbrella Inc. realised very early on that the mainstream services provided at the time was not suitable for the vulnerable and often vulnerable, resource-intensive seniors. They also wanted to be inclusive of all communities and to have everyone under one umbrella of quality care services.
Today Umbrella Inc. is a multi-award-winning, not for profit organisation that delivers Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), Home Care Packages (HCP) and Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) to over 800 clients from 67 different countries including seniors from LGBTI backgrounds and we are also part of the Aged Care System Navigator Trials.
Umbrella Inc’s services under these national programs are provided by culturally trained, diversity aware and bilingual support staff who are also from culturally diverse backgrounds and speak over 40 different languages. Umbrella Inc also has one of the largest multicultural volunteer team that consist of over 100 people who speak over 27 different languages. One of the unique features of Umbrella Inc is the fact that the clients are matches with the support worker based on the person’s language, cultural, religious or gender requirements. These matches are long lasting and build on trust and mutual respect between the person and the worker.
Furthermore, Umbrella Inc has employed over 600 people over the years, predominantly from migrant background and provided them with a new career opportunity in Australia. Many of them proceeded to be managers and senior leaders at Umbrella Inc or at other organisations increasing diversity in the aged care workforce with qualified and well-trained bilingual workers.
Additionally Umbrella Inc. has successfully delivered several community development projects to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) groups such as the Mobile Information and Support Van, drop in style computer sessions to increase seniors digital literally skills and seminars and workshops about My Aged Care on different languages. Umbrella Inc also has representatives serving as experts on national and state advisory groups and have maintained an active profile in local community initiatives. Umbrella Inc. is committed to, and passionate about, improving care and services for people, particularly those who are disadvantaged or facing adversity.
Umbrella Inc serviced thousands of seniors from CaLD backgrounds in the last 20 years. As a result, the communities we work with have a much better understanding of the Australian aged care system and they access services in a timely manner.
Umbrella Inc.’s knowledge and expertise are shared via the organisational representatives who sit on many different committees and panels including Partners in Cultural Appropriate Care (PICAC), Federation of Ethnic Community Council (FECCA), Aged Care Services Australia (ACSA) and National Network of Multicultural Aged and Community Care Providers to support the development of many of the current diversity frameworks, language policies and actions plan around the country. Umbrella Inc was also invited to be part of a round table discussion with the current the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety where we shared our experience and knowledge of culturally appropriate care delivery with the commissioners.
For many decades, seniors from CaLD backgrounds have been treated as footnote in policy development for aged care friendly policies, often seen as just as add on or side issue. Umbrella’s aim is to present best practices which demonstrates that by placing the most vulnerable groups at the heart of every policy development and service provision, will not only benefit a few clients, but also can improve the system for all.
Umbrella’s innovation and commitment has been recognised through several major industry awards including the ACSA Aged Care Awards 2018 (Individual), ACSWA Aged Care Award 2016 (Small provider), two of the Cultural Diversity in Ageing Excellence Awards 2018 (Individual Distinction and Service Delivery), and furthermore we were the finalist for the HESTA Aged Care Award 2017 (Individual distinction), COTAWA Award 2016 (Organisation category), and ACSA Employee of the Year Award 2019.