The Aussies have done it again.

Like many countries, the Australian population is growing older and becoming more diverse – there will be more people in the population, both old and young, from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

But unlike many countries, the Aussies have decided to be proactive in addressing the need to be able to provide a culturally competent aged care service system, addressing the needs of the consumer, the aged care provider and the worker.

I recently learned of two efforts underway ‘Down Under’ that I felt you should know about.

In June, the Centre for Diversity in Ageing’s conference, Behind Every Person is a Long Journey, drew more than 300 people to learn about best practice standards of care that address cultural diversity across all levels of service design and delivery. Those numbers show that there is a high level of interest in learning how to develop high quality and accessible aged care services responsive to the needs of a diverse community. And the Centre does more than run a conference. They also provide an on-line source of information for consumers, providers and government.

During the conference, IAHSA member, Aged & Community Services Australia called for the Australian Government to develop a national vision, in conjunction with major stakeholders, to provide a coordinated range of initiatives to create a culturally competent service system. ACSA’s policy, Strength through Diversity expands on what is required.

Greg Mundy, ACSA CEO, said: ‘cultural diversity is now a mainstream issue. The Australian demographics of the ageing of the population support this position in that 22.5% of people over 65 and 1 in 5 people over 80 will be from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in 2011.” He went on to stress that “culture is not a separate need but rather a framework within which care and support is provided… belongs to every human being and not solely to people we view as ‘others.’”

Congratulations, Greg, for your visionary leadership. And to the Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing for providing a model that can be replicated in other countries around the world.