The Italian Australian Welfare Association (Granite Belt) Inc. is a community based non-profit organisation run by a voluntary management committee comprising people from diverse cultural backgrounds.
The Agency was formed in 1993, following consultations with the wider non-English speaking community in the Stanthorpe Shire, which identified significant linguistic and cultural barriers to access.
In 1995, the Agency received funding from the Home and Community Care (HACC) program for employment of an Ethnic liaison Officer. This is a bridging position aimed at overcoming cultural and/or linguistic barriers to access to mainstream health services.
In 1996 the Agency participated in the state-wide “Strategies for Diversity” pilot project. The Council of the Ageing Queensland (COTAQ) subsequently contracted an independent researcher to conduct a formal evaluation of the projects participating in this pilot.
The “Strategies for Diversity” evaluation report, released in 1997, recommended recurrent funding be provided to continue the Granite Belt Ethnic Liaison Service.
Since its establishment, the Agency has built extensive networks within the community of interest, and has established collaborative partnerships with key service providers within the health sector to enhance access for culturally and linguistically diverse people.
Successful projects have included coordination of a community information forum in 1995; joint projects with the trans-cultural mental health unit and the Southern Downs women’s health service; the translation of information on health and welfare services in the Granite Belt into German, Italian, Spanish, Serbian and Croatian.
In its role as a community educator, the Agency has presented at State conferences, regional cultural awareness workshops, and local provider forums, to enhance culturally appropriate service delivery.
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