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Care and Support
It is important to consider cultural diversity
when providing a mental health service
To escape the lonely
deserts of the mind
services need to
areas with a high
You are in a strange land, you
don't understand the language,
the culture is utterly confusing,
you may have fled a war zone, brutal
oppression or genocide. You are kept
alive by an unfathomable welfare
system, you feel trapped, the pressure
on your mind is unbearable. Where do
you, or your family, go for help?
In the Dandenong area, you will
probably find yourself part of the
ERMHA Origins Program.
Practice leader of the Origins
Program, Nadine Hantke, said: ''Three
years ago, ERMHA's chief executive
officer and St John of God's workers
and CEO from the Dandenong area,
realised that cultural diversity was not
serviced well around mental health.''
''The program bridges the gap
between the services. We are providing
psycho-social rehabilitation within the
community. St John of God supports us
in getting the program running, while
we employ skilled and competent
people to do the work.''
The program, which has been
running now for three years, looks after
up to 30 clients at a time. ''Here in
Dandenong is one of the highest
concentrations of cultural diversity,'' Ms
Hantke says. ''We work mainly with
people from refugee and asylum seeker
or migrant backgrounds who present
with mental health problems. We are
an outreach program, we go out in the
community and build close, trusting
relationships, working to increase
independence and coping mechanisms
to deal with mental health problems.
''A the moment we work a lot with
the Burmese, Afghan, Iraqi and Sri
Lankan communities. What's
fascinating when we get together is to
see each other's cultures, food and
traditions. The communities carry a lot
of resources within themselves. There is
a strong cohesion, they have been
through so much, they are willing to go
on battling to get through hard times.
It is rewarding work, these people have
been through a lot, and it is great that
they respect us enough to allow us to
Some cultures have attitudes to
mental illness that makes it difficult to
help those who suffer, a problem that
Ms Hantke's team approach with a
gentle touch. ''We don't go straight in
the door with the topic of mental
health, given the stigma attached to it
in some cultures. We emphasise the
building of relationships first, then over
time lead into talking about symptoms,
what to do about them and how to
cope with them. But it is a slow,
Ideally, to work in this field you
would be a qualified social worker like
Ms Hantke. But attitude to the work is
crucial, she says. ''It is about learning
from the client, knowing how to work
with cultural diversity. Also experience
in mental health is important for the
Breaking down the isolation that
exacerbates mental ill-health is part of
''The program runs a cooking group,
a gardening group. We do outings, and
we are starting a social English
conversion group soon. We base what
we do on the needs of the people.
People in these groups don't care which
culture someone is from, they know
they are all in the same boat, and they
fit together. It's beautiful to see.''
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fax (03) 9861 9590.
See also our main advertsement in today's
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AIWCW approved CRICOS Code: 02933E RTO: 21872
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Ph: 9480 4445, 9480 4522 email@example.com
Dandenong: 2 James St, Dandenong
Ask about our special Government funding
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Connections are seeking an experienced and registered
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• Domestic assistance
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All positions offer a competitive remuneration
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We offer exible work practices to suit the needs
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Applicants are required to hold a current
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If you'd like to express your Interest or to find out more,
please contact the Recruitment Team on 1300 303 770 or forward your
resume and a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, www.ahcs.org.au
Australian Home care (AHC) Is owned by Multiple Sclerosis Limited (MS) and is the largest:
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