Diverse needs and challenges of the Greek Community
For almost five decades PRONIA has been responding to the needs of Greek migrants with services expanding beyond the first-generation Greek migrants, having relevance to the second and subsequent generations. A rapidly ageing Greek population and longer life expectancy of older people have increased pressure on community service organisations to meet changing needs and expectations of the community. Recognising the importance and impact of Greek migration and cultural factors on the ageing experience a large part of our work relates to servicing the ageing Greek community and their families.
The Greek elderly, like most older people, prefer to age at home living independently in the community, with new consumer-directed care policy providing choice and flexibility for home care supports. Aside from health issues, chronic disease such as diabetes and cancer, there are growing concerns of cognitive health problems like dementia, and increased health risks of loneliness and isolation. The ongoing challenge of the lack of English language skills and low literacy levels of older Greek people restricts their access to information and services and increases reliance on others, essentially compromising service outcomes and their capacity to independently participate in society. We continue to debate gaps in service provision to the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities and advocate for the implementation of more responsive frameworks to improve culturally appropriate care to our community and uptake of preventative programs to improve quality of life.
The increased responsibility in caring for ageing parents and the impacts of intergenerational issues, family breakdown and social issues such as substance abuse and family violence has seen an increase in service request by second and subsequent generations. The role of carer, often assumed by an adult child, has become increasingly stressful due to high care needs of parents and the need to balance work and family responsibilities, referred as the ‘sandwich generation’. Further, end of life care and palliative care are difficult matters facing families. Not surprising are the gaps in service knowledge and access to information indicating the need for education campaigns and targeted support services to build community capacity.
Family violence is prevalent across cultures, ages and socio-economic groups. Last year PRONIA recorded a 45% increase in reported cases responding to 54 cases of family violence and 232 requests for assistance from victims of elder abuse including legal interventions, assistance with safety, housing issues and counseling support. Victims of violence were predominantly older women, with 75% of cases revealing the adult son as the perpetrator with mental health and substance abuse issues. Financial and emotional abuse were the main forms of elder abuse perpetrated by children and grandchildren. Family violence remains a hidden issue despite efforts through targeted service interventions and prevention programs. This strongly suggests current campaigns are not reaching all groups and the need for community education promoting the rights of older people, respectful relationships and challenging gender inequality.
In recognition of the discrimination and increased risks of depression and anxiety, substance abuse and suicide of LGBTIQ people, the SKEPSI project provided information addressing the health needs of the Greek LGBTIQ community. Although project funding has ceased, the commitment to deliver the CALD training program to service providers will address the identified gaps in service provision to the Greek LGBTIQ community.
Settlement services support newly arrived Greek migrants at different stages of the settlement with visa issues, employment and affordable housing being the primary issues. With English language proficiency critical in settlement and finding gainful employment, more work with language providers are needed to create more tailored and flexible programs to meet the training needs of migrants. Furthermore, community education and information on workers’ rights and entitlements will address reports of employment exploitation experienced by some newly arrived.
These are only a few of the complex and diverse issues impacting the community. Our commitment is towards continued community engagement, and the identification and response to emerging needs.