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New and free diversity training is available to help providers reach and include all older people in their communities who are eligible for aged care.

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) has been commissioned by the Australian Department of Health to roll out the Diversity Education Program to aged care service providers nationally, in response to Recommendation 30 of the Royal Commission into Age Well: Designing for diversity, complexity and individuality.

Recommendation 30 proposed that the design of a new aged care program needs to pay more attention to peoples’ diverse and different life experiences, providing services that suit individual needs – “Peoples’ life histories, their experiences of trauma, the language they speak, or their cultural needs should be recognised and responded to appropriately. Diversity should become core business in aged care.”

As service providers operating under Age Well Quality Standards your role is to recognise and respect a consumer’s individuality in all aspects of care and services including access. The goal of this Program is to ensure older people from diverse backgrounds can access your services and feel: 

  • Welcome and valued 
  • Listened to and understood 
  • Supported in their choices, values, lifestyles and interests.

As experienced service providers you may be thinking “but we already cater to clients from different cultures and backgrounds” or be asking “what’s different about this program?” and these are fair questions.

There are three key elements within this Program which aim to help providers expand their client base and stand apart through inclusive practice which is right for your community.

The scope of diversity

Often when we think of diversity, we tend to think of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. And this is certainly part of the mix, but diversity goes beyond cultural backgrounds. The Diversity Education Program also focuses on marginalised groups in your community – those who may have difficulty accessing services, or who have experienced discrimination and trauma, such as people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, veterans, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or people from the LGBTI community.

Based on data about your community

Understanding your community is key to diversity planning. Starting with various local demographic data and your consumer data will clarify: the profile of your target population; who is currently using your service; how they are using your service; ‘who is missing out’ on your service and if your community is changing.

A focus on practical strategies to reach diverse groups and remove barriers

The ultimate goal being to ensure older people of diverse backgrounds can access safe and inclusive services, the focus of the Program is on practical ways to reach groups in your community – shaping your engagement and promotions and designing service responses that respond to access barriers.

The Diversity Education Program will be available to providers in Queensland and Tasmania until 30 June 2023. The program will commence in other states in future years.

The Program is designed for a representative of your service management or quality management areas of your organisation and supports ongoing quality improvement. Certificate of completion will demonstrate working towards Standard 1: Consumer Dignity and Choice.

The Diversity Education Program is funded by the Department of Health at no cost to providers and will be provided over two separate days of face-to-face delivery, with virtual follow up support. These workshops will be held across the state until 30 June 2023.

ADA Australia is the Queensland member of the Older Persons Advocacy Network commissioned to deliver the Diversity Education Program to aged care service providers in Queensland. To contact ADA Australia or an aged care advocacy service in your State or Territory, you can phone 1800 700 600.