The Afghan and Iraqi communities are growing refugee groups in the Shepparton area and seniors were often isolated from each other and the broader community.
The PCC received $10,000 to establish a project to extend theses seniors’ engagement with the growing local ageing refugee communities. The money was used to provide a range of activities - such as art and sewing classes, and lawn bowls - and materials, along with some transport costs. Many participants reported having a better connection to their peers and the wider community. Project staff worked closely with the Refugee Health Team who had strong links with the seniors and leaders from the communities.
Working with the local Shepparton Textiles group, the project established a textile program for Afghan women, who were able to share their skills and build connections to help them feel less lonely. This culminated in an exhibition of the work at the local Arts Museum. After this, an age-appropriate exercise class was established and, in a first for the service, they were able to include two different communities in the program, including Iraqi women.
The Afghan men chose to get involved with the local Lawn Bowls Club, providing a means to stay active and socialise. The men, many of whom were affected by physical ailments, enjoyed hydrotherapy classes, which helped them manage their pain. As word of the program spread, attendance doubled.
Finally, a number of Afghani men who were previously farmers in Afghanistan, started a community garden. This enabled a sharing of knowledge between the men and project staff about traditional foods and local produce.