• A feast of flavours

    A feast of flavours

    In 2023, South Australia is a richly diverse society, with people from across the world bringing their varied backgrounds and experiences.

    Last week, we celebrated Harmony Week, which gave us the opportunity to embrace inclusiveness, respect, and a sense of belonging.

    The makeup of our society has changed markedly over the past century. The people who receive aged care and services reflect this.

    One of these people is Mrs Beth Robertson, who was born in October 1926. Her grandfather, Vaules Wordie, was the son of freed slaves in Jamaica. He was well-known, and spoke against the White Australia Policy in the Australian Parliament.

    In her memoir, “Into the Light,” Beth recalls a time in Adelaide where cultural prejudices were still strong. She recounts the shameful treatment that she received as someone from a mixed racial heritage.

    In her early years, Beth worked as a missionary nurse in Africa, and later became a social worker.

    In retirement, Beth gained her third tertiary qualification when she was 90 years of age; a Diploma of Arts from Tabor College. What a remarkable accomplishment! Beth’s memoir is available in bookstores this April.

    Today, the proportion of aged care residents and clients from a non-English speaking background is just under twenty percent. Many emigrated to Australia following the second world war from countries such as Italy, Greece, and the Netherlands, and we have benefited as a society as a result.

    In February, I experienced an example of diversity on Shrove Tuesday, or “Pancake Day”. A few of our South African colleagues wanted to share their own delicious version of a pancake, the “pannekoek,” which resembles a French crepe.

    This led to a discussion on what represented a pancake; the large flat pancake that we are used to in Australia, or the smaller, thicker flapjacks enjoyed in the United States, which in Australia, we would argue are closer to a pikelet. The outcome is that we have a greater array of choice and flavours to enjoy, all delicious.

    The staff who work in aged care in South Australia today represent almost 100 different countries, with an increasing number from Southern Asia. In the future, the people receiving aged care services will also reflect this diversity.

    Our pancake debate needs to be expanded to include roti, dosas and murtabak, as well. What a feast!

    Opinion piece by Darren Birbeck,
    Chief Executive Officer,
    Resthaven Incorporated

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