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VASS facilitate a Playgroups in the City of Casey and Dandenong. The program is designed to improve family capacities and connectedness, and are funded by the City of Casey. The Playgroup program has strengthened relationships between parents and children and increased the social networks of isolated and marginalised ASB families.
The members of the Playgroup produced a booklet containing Arabic children’s songs. This resource will hopefully be made available in local libraries in the near future.
VASS provides a variety of services for young people from Arabic Speaking backgrounds, as well as those of Iranian, Kurdish, Turkish, Horn of African, and other CALD backgrounds. VASS’ Anti-Racism Action Band (A.R.A.B.) provided opportunities for learning, growth and self-expression for young people of all backgrounds, and promoted multiculturalism and youth leadership.
VASS recognises that the racism and marginalisation experienced by young people of Arabic speaking background in Victoria, particularly those of Muslim faith, can contribute to risk taking and other destructive behaviours that can impact on social inclusion, educational attainment, employment and physical and mental wellbeing. VASS encourages and supports young people to be leaders in the community and act as role models for positive behaviour.
The services we provide for young people include:
- Assistance finding employment and accessing education and training
- Referrals to other agencies such as housing, legal assistance and counselling
- Information about the Australian service, legal and health systems
- Work, volunteer and study experience at VASS and with other agencies
The Victorian Arabic Social Services (VASS) Family Services consists of intake, assessment and referral services, family counselling, family strengthening projects, parent information sessions and family support groups and playgroups. VASS has Family Services at its locations in Broadmeadows and Dandenong offices.
VASS Family Services is funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCHSIA). This service aims to meet the needs of the Arabic Speaking Background (ASB) families through ongoing counselling and case management, information provisions, access to social support and referral to local services based on a formal intake process and assessment of needs. The ASB communities face a number of issues such as unemployment, settlement issues, mental and psychological health concerns, social isolation, cultural and linguistic barriers and lack of access to services. Families also face family-specific issues such as family violence, parenting issues including parenting in a new culture, intergenerational conflict and cultural clashes. VASS aims to address these issues through social support groups, short and long term case work, culturally sensitive approaches to service provision and appropriate referrals.
All VASS workers have Police and Working With Children checks and the Family Support program caters to a range of issues with families, especially in ASB speaking communities. The roles of the Arabic Families Services Coordinator are, but not limited to:
- Case management of Families, including counselling and advocacy
- Coordinate the intake and referral of ASB families and individuals
- Network with stakeholders in support of ASB families
- Provision of workshops and forums addressing topics of importance to this target group and including participation from representative of other relevant
The Parenting Information sessions aim to empower parents with knowledge in a range of topics, as well as providing a source of social support and connections between parents, and creating increased understanding between ASB parents and mainstream service providers. The sessions are often facilitated by professionals from external services, such as Maternal Child Health professionals, and cover a range of topics such as adolescent violence, children’s development and mental health, the impact on children of witnessing domestic violence, the Australian legal system, appropriate disciplining and parenting in a new culture, and soothing techniques for infants.Family Service Referral Form
Aged Care and Disability Support Services
VASS has many programs and activities across the State under its Aged Care and Disability Support Services banner. There have been a variety of events and resources produced in our Aged Care Programs, such as producing and launching the Dance Fit DVD, that educates and encourages older people to stay fit through cultural dancing, and the Al Zakira DVD, that provides education on Dementia through a cultural lens. These were produced through the Healthy Ageing and Service Improvement grant from the Department of Social Services.
Planned Activity Group (PAG)
The Home and Community Care (HACC) program aims to support disabled and/or frail aged clients their carers to live independently in their home and in the community. VASS runs several programs within the HACC program, including several Planned Activity Groups (PAGs). VASS runs Men’s and Women’s PAGs in the Northern region of Victoria (Hume and Darebin), Newport and the City of Casey.
The PAGs aim to assist socially isolated disabled and/or frail aged people or their carers of Arabic speaking, inclusive of Assyrian Chaldean, backgrounds, to maintain their personal independence and to sustain their connections with the community. The services provided are delivered in a culturally appropriate manner to ensure that all individual needs and interests are catered for.
VASS’ PAGs are very popular and many of the programs, such as the City of Casey PAG, being full. VASS is hoping to expand its PAG prorgam to new areas to meet growing demand.
Last year the Dandenong Arabic Women Seniors group received funding from the City of Greater Dandenong to run a Healthy Eating Healthy Ageing program, whereby women meet on a monthly basis with a nutritionist to talk about Middle Eastern diet and recipes with a view to eating healthier and modified versions. The Dandenong Arabic Women seniors group is involved with OASIS leisure Centre and CGD in an exercise program on a weekly basis. This program runs in 8 weeks cycle and has been funded for 4 cycles at time of print (October 2014). VASS hopes to run more cycles in the future.
Community and Individual benefits of Planned Activity Groups:
- Help people to be maintain independence, thereby preventing admission to long term residential care and hospitals
- Encourage participation in broader community life
- Promote physical and mental health and enhancing quality of life
- Provide respite and support for carers
- Assist in maintaining skills needed for everyday living
- Address clients’ social, cultural, emotional, physical and recreational needs
- Strengthen capacity building and provide opportunities for improved health, participation and security
- Improve nutrition and physical activity and promote emotional well-being for older people
- Provide a sense of positive aging, empowerment, connectedness and sustainable strategies
VASS HACC program is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State/Territory program proving funding and assistance for Australians in need. The City of Casey PAG is funded by the City of Casey.
All VASS programs and activities are free of charge.
Small fees may be incurred in relation to recreational activity of excessive costs.
For more information please contact Lina Hassan at VASS Head Office (03) 9359 2861 or [email protected]
Volunteer Social Support Program (VSSP)
VASS’ Volunteer Social Support Program links socially isolated people with disabilities and older people with Arabic and Assyrian Chaldean speaking volunteers who can visit the person at their home or go on social outings with them. Last year VASS matched over 30 volunteers to older people and people with disabilities in the community.
Benefits of the Volunteer Social Support program:
- Increased social support for isolated community members
- Increased involvement in community activities through transport provision
- Culturally and linguistically appropriate companionship
- Assisting older people and people with disabilities to maintain independence
- Providing respite opportunities for carers
VASS HACC Volunteer Social Support program is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the State of Victoria.
All VASS programs and activities are free of charge. Small fees may be incurred in relation to recreational activity of excessive costs.
For more information please contact Lina Hassan for more information at VASS Head Office (03) 9359 2861 or [email protected]
Access and Support Program
The Access and Support program explores and develops mechanisms that will assist Home and Community Care (HACC) eligible people from Arabic Speaking Background (ASB) and Assyrian and Chaldean communities who experience barriers to accessing HACC services. The program also works effectively in the HACC service system to provide specialist cultural knowledge, information and advice, and assisting generic agencies in developing culturally appropriate service responses for ASB specific clients.
VASS supported people who have a disability or are aging and their carers by:
- Enabling improved access to a range of HACC services for eligible Arabic and Assyrian/ Chaldean clients
- Providing support for ASB people in need of assistance to negotiate the HACC and related service system
- Strengthening the capacity of VASS Aged Care staff in responding to the needs presented to their agency
- Improving generic agency understanding of ASB people, their needs and difficulties in accessing services
- Strengthening the capacity of generic agencies’ to work effectively with VASS and improve access for ASB people.
Who is eligible for VASS Access and Support Activities?
- People aged 65 years and over, and/or who have a disability, or their carers
- Eligible for HACC services
- Socially isolated and disadvantaged
- Experience barriers to accessing services
- Are of ABS or Assyrian Chaldean communities/backgrounds
- Living in the regions: Hume, Whittlesea and Hobson’s Bay.
VASS HACC program is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State/Territory program proving funding and assistance for Australians in need.
Support from an Access and Support worker is confidential and free of charge.
For more information please contact Lina Hassan or Mesko Ayouz at VASS Head Office (03) 9359 2861 or [email protected]
Aged Care Service Improvement and Healthy Ageing (ACSIHAG) Program
The ACSIHAG or ‘Healthy Ageing’ program, is designed to promote healthy and active ageing, and access to aged care information and services in the CALD community. This program is funded by the Federal Department of Social Services. VASS’ focus is on the ageing Arabic Speaking Background (ASB), inclusive of the Assyrian Chaldean, population of Victoria. Another aim of the program is to strengthen the capacity of the aged care sector and to better respond to existing and emerging challenges, such as dementia care. This is achieved through a variety of activities including information sessions targeted to other aged care service providers on topics such as cultural norms, barriers to accessing services and other relevant topics. Other ongoing Healthy Ageing activities include information sessions for the community on a variety of topics related to health such as exercise and nutrition, regular visits to the local aquatic centre for aqua-aerobics classes, and trips to local residential aged care facilities.
Outcomes of the ACSIHAG program for the ASB community:
- Increased awareness the ASB community of aged care services available
- Increased knowledge of issues related to ageing and health
- Improved health and fitness through participation in program activities (e.g. aqua aerobics classes)
- Increased availability of culturally appropriate aged care services
VASS programs are free of charge. However, some activities may incur small costs
Options may be explored with VASS staff upon management approval
No waiting list
For more information please contact the program coordinator, Siba Chahal, on (03) 9359 2861 or email [email protected]
Community Visitor’s Scheme (CVS)
The VASS Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) is a program focusing on the Senior ABS community, it involves volunteers providing friendly and caring home visits focused on the individual needs of the client. One of the main emphases of the CVS program is to attend to the needs of companionship and friendship, concentrating on the senior ABS community currently experiencing or at risk of isolation. Under the CVS program, the well-being of the clients is improved significantly by:
- Increased self-esteem
- Feeling cared for
- Feeling part of the community
- Overcoming issues of anxiety and depression related to isolation
- Recognition of self-worth
- Increased independence through encouragement and support
The volunteers involved have a sound knowledge of the cultural importance and values. The volunteers will be matched to the client based on preferences to provide a comfortable, fun, and familiar experience.
Some of the visitations the volunteers will undertake include:
- A one on one visit by a volunteer to a client in accordance to the Home Care Package (HPC)
- Possible transportation of client for a local outing i.e. a trip to the local shops
Who is eligible?
The Victorian Arabic Social Services CVS volunteer program and visits will be available to clients who are receiving a Home Care Package (HCP) who have been assigned by their aged care provider as an person experiencing or being at risk of, social isolation it could be because of social or cultural reasons or reasons relating to a disability where client requires companionship.
Volunteers have always been an important asset to VASS and crucial contributors to community life. Volunteers give up some of their time to exercise rewarding roles and experiences. Whilst there aren’t many requirements to become a volunteer, it is of great principle to maintain a motivated and compassionate character to be able to contribute to quality outcomes, add value to projects and an enlightening experience.
All volunteers will be:
- A valued member of VASS
- Educated on organizational structure and policies
- Well informed of task, roles, and responsibilities
- Supported in your role
- Initial visit with supervision and following visits with supervisor follow ups e. phone call
- Ensure you are in a safe environment
- Provided with the appropriate and adequate training
As a Volunteer, your commitment to CVS may include but not limited to:
- At least 1 hour per fortnight
- Home visit an assigned client; identified as experiencing or at risk of isolation, with a need of companionship and friendship.
For more information please contact the program coordinator, Hala Alaoui, on (03) 9359 2861 or email [email protected]
VASS has partnered with the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) and Palliative Care Victoria to deliver the Culturally Responsive Palliative Care Project to the Arabic Speaking Background (ASB) communities of Victoria. The project will enable members of the ASB community to attend culturally and linguistically appropriate education sessions which raise awareness about palliative care services available, and how palliative care can help people with a life-limiting illness and their families to have the best possible quality of life. A life-limiting illness is an incurable illness such as cancer and chronic illnesses such as heart disease, lung disease, motor neurone disease, advanced dementia and kidney disease.
The Palliative Care project has several stages. In the initial stage, VASS staff and volunteers took part in four reference group meetings with project organisers. The information from the reference group meetings was used to inform training materials for the Arabic speaking bilingual educators and information handouts which are culturally appropriate and meet the community’s needs. The training of bilingual educators forms the second stage of the project. These educators can then be booked by other service providers to provide in-language palliative care information to their ASB clients.
Another aspect of the project involves educating palliative care service providers to enable them to provide more inclusive and culturally appropriate services to clients of culturally diverse backgrounds, to ensure they are not missing out on these vital, and mostly free, services.
The Culturally Responsive Palliative Care project for the ASB community was launched at VASS Head Office in Broadmeadows on the 29th of October by the Victorian Minister for Health, the Hon. David Davis. This is the second year of the project, in which Croatian, Greek, Macedonian and Polish communities are targeted, as well as the ASB community.
If you are interested in booking a free information session, please download the booking form (available in English or Arabic) and return it to the ECCV contact provided, or to Lina Hassan or Mesko Ayouz, the Culturally Responsive Palliative Care project workers at VASS, as per the details below. Lina and Mesko will be running four information sessions throughout December at VASS’ Office in Broadmeadows.
Phone: (03) 9359 2861
Mail to: C1, 1 – 13 The Gateway, Broadmeadows, Victoria 3047
Palliative Care Education Session Booking Form
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