Every festival, a reminder: connecting past and present

Seniors celebrate Chinese New Year at VMCH Multicultural Wellness Centre

Retirement Living
CHINESE CELEBRATIONS: Michael Liu (top right) with friends at the Multicultural Wellness Centre in Wantirna South, Victoria.

CHINESE CELEBRATIONS: Michael Liu (top right) with friends at the Multicultural Wellness Centre in Wantirna South, Victoria.

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Multicultural wellness centre makes older migrants feel at home

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FOR MANY Australians, ringing in the Chinese New Year is a time of celebration, family and marking tradition.

But for some older migrants, celebrating Chinese New Year, can sometimes be challenging. That’s according to Rani Wong, a coordinator at the Multicultural Wellness Centre (MWC) in Melbourne’s east.

“The festival is not celebrated here the way it would have been in their country of birth,” said Ms Wong.

“For seniors, every festival will remind them their own town and own home overseas. We hope our social groups help them to connect to their own cultural events and make them feel part of the ‘big family’ we’ve created at the MWC.”

The Victorian-first centre in Wantirna South connects seniors and is run by not-for-profit aged care provider Villa Maria Catholic Homes. Since it opening in 2016, it was the first culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)-specific, integrated, aged-focused wellness centre in the state.  

On February 5, the centre’s most popular group, for Chinese seniors, will be a hub of activity as it rings in the The Year of the Pig.

Participants will be creating and hanging decorations, undertaking traditional customs and taking part in the annual Reunion Lunch as part of the festivities.

Ms Wong said due to language barriers and limited mobility, most of the seniors attending the group were often “house-bound”. 

“Hence, it is so important for older people from CALD backgrounds to connect into the community they are familiar and comfortable with and to be connected to age services as they require,” she said.

Michael Liu and his wife Ann have been MWC members for three years. Michael said he’s made many friends and enjoys the exercise classes, especially tai chi.

“The group is very good – it gives Chinese people a social life and we can get help if we need it,” he said.

As well as Chinese seniors, there are older people from all backgrounds who attend the centre, including residents from Filipino and Sri Lankan backgrounds.

Australian Institute for Health and Welfare data shows nearly a third of all Victorians aged over 65 are from a CALD background.

COTA Victoria also reports the risk of loneliness in old age is higher among migrant and refugee populations.

For details on the Multicultural Wellness Centre click HERE or phone (03) 9800 7255.

Read more: Sydney Council to launch Sydney Lunar Festival in 2019

Read more: Australia Post releases Year of the Pig 2019 stamps

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