“When you need it, we’re there to help, from the heart.”
These are the words of one of our team members, who was asked to describe the Lutheran Care difference, recently. But what does this look like, in our day to day work?
Here’s a story we would like to share with you that relates to Harmony Week.
An elderly woman we support through the Community Visitors Scheme has sadly developed dementia. As part of her condition, she has reverted back to speaking in her mother tongue, German. Living in an aged care facility, our client was experiencing confusion and increased isolation.
In response, we arranged for one of our volunteer visitors, who is also German speaking, to spend some time with our client. She was greatly comforted when the volunteer sang to her some children’s songs in German, and shared some friendly conversation.
This is just one example of how by sharing and celebrating culture, we can provide clients and the community with a richer experience of care and compassion.
The theme for Harmony Week 2023 is ‘Everyone belongs’. At Lutheran Care, this is something we believe, through and through. We welcome, serve – and work alongside – people from all backgrounds, walks of life, faiths, genders, countries and cultures.
A question we sometimes receive from the people who knock on our doors for support, is ‘Do I have to be Lutheran, or Christian, to receive help?’ The answer is a hard no. Everyone is welcome and we care for everyone. We were founded by a passionate group of Lutheran women in 1969, on the Christian ethos to help anyone who needs it.
Within the current Lutheran Care workforce of staff and volunteers, we are proud and fortunate to have people representing a range of cultures and life experiences:
- 30 people identify as living with a disability.
- 8 people identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Their mobs include Warlpiri/Warrumungu, Pertame/Luritja, Arrente and Ngarrindjeri.
- 61 people identify as being Culturally or Linguistically Diverse (CALD).
- Across our team, 36 languages other than English are spoken at home, including Algerian Arabic, Auslan (Australian Sign Language), Eastern Punjabi, Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Iranian Persian, Malay, Ukrainian and four different Aboriginal languages.
- While we don’t collect information on where volunteers were born, 101 of our paid staff were born in Australia. A total of 50 staff were born outside of Australia, in countries including Afghanistan, China, Colombia, Lebanon, Nepal, New Zealand, Rwanda and the United Kingdom.
While everyone in our team is different and has unique skills and experiences to share, the things which bring us together are dedication to helping others and belief in the Lutheran Care values of Social Justice, Inclusion, Commitment and Compassion.
Diversity is a superpower, and achieving greater diversity among our team members is something we will continue to aspire to and proactively work towards. We want our leadership team and those who design and deliver services to truly reflect the diversity of the clients and communities we serve.
In this light, we encourage people from all backgrounds, particularly First Nations people, to check our website for current employment vacancies and volunteer roles, and consider joining us. We are also always seeking Foster Carers to #BeTheVillage by joining the Lutheran Care community of carers. We strongly encourage people from diverse backgrounds, and particularly aspiring Foster Carers who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, to find out more and take the first steps, here.
The clients we support come from many different places. In the past year, through our Emergency Relief program alone, we have assisted people from 27 different countries speaking 54 different languages, including people fleeing persecution and violence in Ukraine, Iran and Afghanistan.
While our services such as Emergency Relief, Financial Counselling and Counselling are open and offered to everyone, we understand some people in our communities have some specific needs and have designed supports to cater for them:
- We provide safe places for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse women and their children, to connect and access support via our Multicultural Women’s Group at Family Zone and our 10 Community Hubs across Northern Adelaide.
- Our Specialised Family Violence Program supports migrant and refugee families impacted by domestic and family violence.
- We support adults and children exhibiting behaviours of concern, and their families, with Positive Behaviour Support through our NDIS-registered service, Elcies Disability Care.
- Our Neurodiversity Support Group at Family Zone caters for neurodiverse children and their families.
- Our Men’s Health Worker runs programs to support men including the Dads Matter support group for fathers and the Men’s Support Hub at Family Zone.
- Being with Baby at Family Zone supports new mothers to bond with their children and become more informed and confident.
- The Wardli-ana program offered under the Toward Home Alliance – of which Lutheran Care is lead agency – has been specifically designed to support First Nations people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
For more information about our programs and services, visit lutherancare.org.au
Lutheran Care’s Chief Executive Officer, Rohan Feegrade, says: “Harmony Week is a time where we come together and celebrate Australia’s rich diversity, particularly within our communities”.
“It’s about inclusion, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.
“Through our work, and as represented within our logo, we celebrate our unique diverse workforce and the volunteers and people that we support who come from a range of different backgrounds and experiences.
“This week and every week we celebrate our connection with others, promote inclusion, respect and understanding.
“This way we can better build safe and prosperous communities in which everyone can thrive.”
During Harmony Week, we have encouraged our staff and volunteers to dress in orange or a cultural dress, and participate in events across our sites to share and celebrate the rich mix of cultures and experiences we bring to the table. We will share more photos later in the week. We wish everyone a happy Harmony Week and hope you have had a fabulous Harmony Day today (21 March)!