National Seniors CEO Professor John McCallum says the program is an addition to the successful Older PersonsCOVID-19 Support Line to reach out to our most isolated communities.
“We felt that more could be done to increase awareness of the support line and our services within newly arrived migrant communities. We’re launching this program to ensure that those who speak minority languages at home can still access the information and support they need through our community workers," he explains.
Community Liaison Officers work through community leaders of New and Emerging Communities (NECS) to improve access to information and address questions and concerns relating to COVID-19.
They are also responsible for:
- Building relationships with community groups and partners
- Providing key educational resources to the community
- Responding to COVID-19 situations
- Identifying vulnerable members of the community and offering support.
The CALD team has eight members—five in Victoria and three in New South Wales.
The Victorian office is led by Norma Serrano and includes Cecilia Benitez (Spanish speaking South and Central Americans), Leoncio Sosa (regional CALD communities)Aisha Mahboob (Afghan community) and Salai Biak Za Lian Ching (Burmese/Myanmar Chin-Hakha speaking community).
In New South Wales, Mona Ataya (multiple new Arabic speaking communities) and Chanthy Lim-Chum (Cambodian community) are led by Annette Fenton.
You don’t need to be from New South Wales or Victoria to access the service. You don’t even have to talk about COVID-19 if you don’t want to.
“Everyone, no matter where they live, is welcome to give the CALD team a call,” Professor McCallum says.
“Sometimes, people call us because they feel a bit lonely and want someone to talk to—and that’s totally fine. A good conversation in any language is great for the soul. I think our team gets as much out of it as the person calling!”
If you would like to speak to a member of the CALD team, please call the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line on 1800 171 866. They will transfer your call to the relevant community representative.