Chinese traditional dancing sessions, meditation and mindfulness classes, and bilingual information forums are just some of the activities that will soon be enjoyed by socially isolated seniors from Chinese backgrounds in the Sutherland Shire thanks to Advance Diversity Services (ADS) following a successful application to ClubGRANTS.
Funded by Taren Point Bowling and Recreation Club, the ADS project aims to build social connections and reduce isolation. The new group will be coordinated by Chinese-speaking ADS staff member, Ronnie Wang, with the support of Chinese community volunteers.
Ms Wang said there was a significant representation of people from Chinese backgrounds living in the Sutherland Shire area, with 2016 Census data for the shire indicating Mandarin is the second largest language spoken outside of the English language, followed by Cantonese.
“Our Cantonese- and Mandarin-speaking staff, who work closely with Chinese clients and communities in the St George and Sutherland Shire areas, identified the need for a local social support group for older Chinese people in the Sutherland Shire.
“The Chinese Community Reference Group and Chinese Services Network convened by ADS also highlighted the lack of culturally specific and language-accessible social support activities and engagement for Chinese people in the area.”
ADS’s new group would bridge this gap, Ms Wang said, enabling seniors to experience meaningful social connections with others in the group and to build a sense of belonging and engagement with their local communities.
Group sessions would involve recreational and health-based activities, including traditional dancing, wellbeing activities, and bilingual education sessions presented by health workers on subjects like falls prevention, healthy eating and elder abuse. Funds would be used to pay hall hire, group activity costs, catering, and staff time.
“CALD seniors are particularly vulnerable to social isolation due to language and cultural barriers, stigma, social-economic disadvantage, and low rates of service access,” Ms Wang said.
“We also know isolation can have a negative impact on older people’s health – heightening their risk of cardiovascular, autoimmune, and neurocognitive illnesses, and increasing the likelihood of depression and anxiety.
“We want our seniors to be happy and healthy and to find fun and friendship as they connect with and contribute to the community. This project will help us to achieve this.”