A new Shepparton-based disability support service aims to help regional Victorians who come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to receive the benefits to which they are entitled and the support they need to thrive.
‘The NDIS system is quite strict, and it’s very, very difficult to understand,’ Mr Thon said.He said people who faced language barriers found it even more complicated to organise support, understand their rights and know what services were available to them.
Prospective Amos Care Support Services employees will need three things: a certificate in disability support, the ability to speak a relevant language other than English, and to value the cultures of the participants they assist. ‘If you don’t understand who I am, how will you look after me?’ Mr Thon said. The director said he knew of similar multicultural services in Melbourne and Dandenong, but as far as he knew there was nothing similar available in Shepparton and surrounds.
Documents and correspondence written in English weren’t useful to families who helped manage their loved one’s care, Mr Thon said, and many struggled to stay on top of information that was poorly communicated. Additionally, Mr Thon said there were families who could not read and write their own language, so help was required with translated information as well.
‘If it is not well translated to them, they get confused,’ he said. Mr Thon said it was important the needs of a participant were properly explained to family involved in their care. He said some families rejected help from service providers because they were overwhelmed by information that was not communicated appropriately. ‘So when we move into this industry now, we try to say ‘You don’t need to push everybody away’,’ he said.
Mr Thon and his growing team of about 10 will work to co-ordinate participants’ support, integrating and linking services wherever possible. One colleague, Umutoni Queen Shanela, speaks and writes eight languages and is preparing to become a regional manager by learning the job inside out, working directly with participants. She said she loved working with people of all different ages and backgrounds, and she was learning every day.
Amos Care Support Services will be based in the offices of the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District before moving to separate offices once established. Ethnic Council manager Chris Hazelman said appropriate disability support was an important and challenging issue across the community, particularly among new arrival communities where some had no concept of what help was available. ‘The demand will be there,’ he said.
Mr Hazelman said the challenge would be connecting and communicating with relevant communities, and Ethnic Council staff could make referrals through its own programs where appropriate. Mr Thon named the new disability support service after his uncle, Amos, who lived to help others. ‘I thought maybe his care can continue, through this,’ he said. To connect with Amos Care Support Services email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0403 662 050.