LINE DANCING: Phil Care Philipino Social group president Ruby Sestoso gets up at 6am to make sure everyone practices each week with the group. They make all their own dresses and their oldest is 89 they practice line dancing.
LINE DANCING: Phil Care Philipino Social group president Ruby Sestoso gets up at 6am to make sure everyone practices each week with the group. They make all their own dresses and their oldest is 89 they practice line dancing.

Better lives in CALD communities

CALD, rural and isolated seniors' communities in Victoria are benefiting from a $1.8m Sport Australia grant for the delivery of wellbeing activities.

Australian Multicultural Community Services (AMCS), Moving for Life The Way I Like It project coordinator Linzee Gordon says her organisation has partnered with various other community organisations and sports to facilitate active ageing.

"We are also looking at emerging communities and women's prisons for women who have recently come out of prison who are trying to get back into society," she said.

Many of these groups don't have wellbeing activity funding, equipment, support or opportunities. "There are seniors out in rural areas that want to do some activities, but don't have transport or families that can take them there, or don't even know about this," Ms Gordon said.

The project is also helping those that need help to get into a better mental space by offering walking groups that are then encouraged to socialise over coffee once they have finished the physical activities, "so they can make friends" Ms Gordon said.

"It's about the whole wellbeing; not just physical, but mental as well," she added.

YMCA Victoria has come on board with groups of seniors able to visit one of the many outdoor adventure camps dotted around the State to participate in day-long experiences.

"We have also partnered with the Western Bulldogs who are delivering 10-week physical, mental and educational courses called Sons of the West and Daughters of the West," Ms Gordon said.

A Muslim Women's swimming group in Melton is another initiative. Once a week these seniors and their carers go to a pool which is closed off for women-only. "Some of the women, who are in their 60s, have never been into water before," she said. "They are so grateful for this. They even talked among themselves about organising a walking group."

"We are training community members in their own languages so they can go out into their communities and give a 10-minute presentation about the benefits active ageing, in their own languages." Some of those languages are Nepalese, Arabic, Macedonian, Persian and Croatian.

Ms Gordon says they are addressing the sustainability of the program after the funds stop in December 2020 by getting local groups to be responsible for finding instructors for their programs.

While most of the activities are fully funded, some that are more expensive to deliver have a small cost which AMCS hopes will mean that the participants will be already prepared to continue paying for the activities once the funding runs out.

The project feedback has been overwhelming positive. "Not only are they getting out of their house, they are having fun and they are doing something beneficial to themselves," Ms Gordon said.

"It's the joy of seeing them interact with other members of their community that they didn't even know. Now we have people arriving together, like car pooling. And, they are making new friends."