Chinese seniors busting social isolation

22 May 2015

Socially-isolated Chinese-speaking seniors are benefitting from a new project by the Chinese Australian Services Society (CASS) in Campsie which encourages community interaction and education.

The program, called ‘Happy Senior Life’, ran over five workshops earlier in the year and was made possible with a $4,100 donation from Canterbury League Club.

“Through caseworks and group-gathering, CASS workers found that Chinese seniors, with low English proficiency residing in the Canterbury LGA, have been disadvantaged in accessing information and are being isolated from community social life. The project aims to break their social isolation and encourage access to information and resources available,” said Ernest Yung, Team Leader for Chinese Australian Services Society.

Guest speakers from different health organisations were invited to present topics in Chinese or with Chinese interpretation. The topics covered included healthy diet, oral health, insomnia and the importance of laughing and happiness. There were roughly 20 participants in each workshop which ran between January and March.

“Chinese seniors with low English proficiency might shy away from mainstream events because they find it difficult to participate if they are not with their peers. In addition the information is mostly published or promoted in English.”

“Social isolation or lack of contact with other people is an issue for anyone but it is more pronounced for seniors who don’t speak English who find it harder to adapt to a new language and culture. The feelings of loneliness or negative self-esteem have the potential to produce very severe psychological effects so it is important that we have community programs that address this issue,” said Dr George Peponis OAM, Chairman of Canterbury League Club.