Photo from EveryAge Counts’ website
In Australia, a third of older people are from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. While it is true that some cultures have very strong traditions of respect for and inclusion of older citizens, it is not the case that ageism doesn’t exist at all. Awareness and experience of ageism can vary significantly and there are many factors that influence it. The Australian campaign and advocacy movement against ageism EveryAge Counts collaborated with the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils (FECCA) to produce the report “Ageism in culturally diverse communities”, which looks at how ageism plays out for people from diverse cultural and linguistical groups.
Here are some key findings:
- 71 percent of all Australians feel that age discrimination is common;
- Ageism appears to be moderated in cultures where strong family connections and community network exist (by opposition to Western and more ‘individualistic’ cultures I guess);
- Ageism must be culturally informed as it could have adverse impacts on relationships within the family and the larger community; in the culturally and linguistically diverse communities surveyed for the report, wisdom gained from life experience is valued. It is recognised however that this is changing as younger generations redefine the relationship and the context of being filial;
- The issue of ageism seems unknown in the confines of the older persons’ families and their respective communities. However, they are aware of it happening in broader society mainly in the healthcare system, within government policy or in access to services;
- The solutions identified by respondents to address ageism are similar to the ones identified by the WHO: education (schools can help young generations navigate relationships with older generations) and intergenerational contacts (with older persons steering a positive view of ageing acting as role models).