AASHA AUSTRALIA FOUNDATION is an initiative by group of persons of Indian origin, to fulfil urgent growing needs of care of increasing population of Old age persons of Indian and South
Asian Sub continent. It is important to create awareness of the services and sources available to meet with their needs and in particular to ensure all such Aged Care services provided to them meet with Cultural demands, specific to such persons. It is also intended to coordinate with Government agencies and other Service providers to facilitate Aged Care with Cultural focus.
AASHA hosted its second annual forum at Pennant Hills Community Centre, on 5th November 2016. This year, the forum focused on two major themes- 1) Raising proactive awareness about Dementia and 2) Celebrating NSW Grandparents day. Susan McCarthy, General Manager Services from Alzheimer’s Australia and Dr. Perminder Sachdev, Clinical Director of the NPI at Prince of Wales Hospital, gave specialist presentations on Dementia, in order to create awareness in our community. Dr. Sachdev, who is also a professor of Neuropsychiatry and Co–Director for Healthy Brain Ageing at University of New South Wales in Sydney, said Dementia is a general term for a decline in the mental ability, severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example, however may not always mean it is Dementia. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of Dementia.
Team AASHA believe that there is a need to change the culture around the topic of Dementia and make it easy for our ageing seniors to talk about it-proactively. This was the highlight of the presentation made by Bijinder Dugal & Anurag Vasisth Directors of AASHA Team. They explained AASHA’s journey to date. It was pointed out that most seniors in our community suffer due to lack of awareness of Dementia and their willingness to talk about it. Other factors for social wellbeing of seniors were pointed out and stressed the need for support as there is the issue of social inclusion, social stigma about mental health, busy lifestyle of the family members and lack of culturally appropriate care options which add to the suffering. The initiatives of AASHA are aimed at helping the seniors and enable a happy life.
AASHA has finalised its focus areas for 2017 and these were shared by Mrs. Bijinder Dugal, also a co-founder and Director of AASHA, in her presentation. In 2017, AASHA aims at attracting more volunteers to start more social hubs for seniors. AASHA volunteers will provide regular interviews on Ethnic radios and articles in newspapers about its services to create awareness. AASHA would like to bring various community organisations to one platform for Aged Care, to create inclusive communities and to make such services available for our ageing seniors.
Cecilia Milani, Manager of Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care (PICAC), NSW and ACT at the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI), a not-for- profit organisation, gave a presentation on My Aged Care service.
To celebrate NSW Grandparents day, Team AASHA hosted a multicultural entertainment program, followed by high tea. The program was kicked off by Dr. Pradnya Dugal, Radiologist, Director of Monsuun Dance Group and a key member of AASHA Advisory board, who mesmerised the audience with her classical Indian dance performance. Later, the senior ladies, who are friends of AASHA, delighted the audience with an energising Gidha (Indian-Punjabi traditional dance) performance. The entertainment program concluded with a special group song, sung by grandchildren from the age of eight to the grandparents in their eighties, led by popular Sydney based singer Mr. Vinod Rajput, [ Member Management AASHA team] , Seema and along with members of AASHA Team bringing the theme of the event to life.
The event attracted about 200 delegates, including state MPs like Dr. Hugh McDermott MP Prospect, Jodi McKay MP Strathfield, Julia Finn MP Member of Granville, Daniel Mookhey MLC Blacktown, Gurdeep Singh Councilor Hornsby and community leaders like Mr. John Kennedy, President UIA, Mr. Rohitas Batta, President Lions Club of Sydney Indian (Inc.) and Mr. Harmohan Singh Walia of GOPIO.
Everyone appreciated the efforts of AASHA Australia Foundation to celebrate ageing as a way of life and create proactive awareness about Dementia. Cheryl Khurana and Rekha Rajvanshi effectively steered the event as MCs. The event concluded with Vote of thanks by Dr. Praful Valanju, also a co-founder and Director of AASHA. Team AASHA is indebted to the key sponsors, Gold Sponsors – SASA Productions, Silver Sponsors- Perpetual, Share SMR Inc. and AHIA, Catering Sponsors-Mr. Manjit Gujrat of Manjit’s at the Wharf restaurant and Mr. Mandeep Rana of Urban Tadka restaurant and Water bottle sponsors- Mrs. Mittu Gopalan of Freedman & Gopalan Legal Firm. Also, a special thanks to the volunteers who assisted with smooth running of he event.