A new report, however, suggests that care may be compromised unless all partners have equal input into planning and decision-making processes.
The Practising Positive Partnerships in the Ethnic and Multicultural Community report was prepared by the Healthy Ageing Research Unit at Monash University, the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) and the Southern Metropolitan Region HACC Cultural Diversity Network (SCDN).
The aim of the report was to explore the role and experiences of partnerships within the ethnic and multicultural aged care sector in Victoria following anecdotal evidence that suggested organisations were missing out on partnership opportunities, which in turn may be detrimentally impacting on the health and access to services for older people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Projections suggest that by 2026, one in every four people aged over 80 years in Victoria will be from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, and findings of this report will be important in determining better systems for community-based aged care providers in order to meet future demand.
One author of the report, Dr Harriet Radermacher from Monash University’s Healthy Ageing Research Unit found that participants overwhelmingly spoke of the need for organisations within the sector to work together.
“The general consensus was that partnerships between the government and community sectors facilitated greater resources and increased the capacity of organisations to care for their clients and enabled organisations to grow,” Dr Radermacher said.
According to the report findings, government allocation and structure of resources within the sector was identified as a key influence in the success of partnerships.
“As indicated by some participants, government policies restrict the flexibility and natural formation of partnerships, which limits the organisation from achieving the best possible outcome for the service users,” Dr Radermacher said.
Smaller organisations within the partnerships were also concerned that inequality existed where larger partners such as mainstream government services had greater financial and human resources to participate in discussions.
Dr Radermacher said participants believed that a range of strategies could be implemented to address these inequalities and in so doing create more effective partnerships and better outcomes for service users.
“Strategies ranged from using protocols and procedures to better define roles and responsibilities within a partnership to having a liaison person to represent smaller community based organisations in their networking and partnership work,” Dr Radermacher said.
The authors highlighted the need for flexible funding conditions that are less geographically determined and focus more on client outcomes, along with an important role for multicultural peak bodies to lobby government for more resources and advocate for the skills and expertise of their constituent organisations.
Mr Sam Afra, Chairperson of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria, said that “working together had been a hallmark of Australia’s migrant history” and “hoped the release of this new report will help see the value of future partnerships across different sectors only continue to strengthen and grow in years to come.”
The full report is available on the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria website.
For more information contact Megan Gidley, Media and Communications + 61 3 9903 4843 or 0448 574 148.