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Diversity and Inclusion requires Belonging to be effective for all residents

Why is diversity an objective in retirement communities?

In essence, a commitment to diversity within your village is an acknowledgement of the benefits that having a wide variety of people, heritages, ideas and experiences can offer in building a vibrant community!

Australia has one of the most diverse older populations in the world, with a significant proportion of the Australian seniors community identifying as:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
     
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD)
     
  • Veterans of the Australian Defence Force or an allied defence force (or the spouse, widow or widower of a veteran)
     
  • LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/gender diverse, intersex and queer)
     
  • Disabled or living with a significant health concern

So, while we often talk about ‘Diversity’, do we really understand its importance to our staff and our village communities?

Firstly, it is important to recognise that diversity cannot work without inclusion, and that ‘diversity and inclusion’ cannot be sustained without belonging.

In simple terms:

Diversity is the characteristics that make people unique. 

Inclusion is the behaviours and community norms that make people feel welcome.

Belonging is an individual’s sense of acceptance by others.

How can Village Professionals promote Diversity?

What are some of the activities village professionals can do to establish and promote Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging in the workplace and within village communities?

Having a conscious approach to support the diverse nature of residents living in your village is vital to operational planning, resident satisfaction and service delivery within your community.

Recognise and consider inclusive activities, which increase in importance as people age and face the possibility of isolation.

Ensure that older Australians remain valued and have the same access to opportunities whatever their differences.

Establish inclusive practices as part of everyday operational activities, whether it is at meetings, operational planning, or as part of project considerations within the village community. 

Additionally, you can:

  • Provide activities that appeal to diverse groups
     
  • Conduct regular education/reminders to village teams about diversity
     
  • Address and discourage others’ bias toward ageing
     
  • Hold open conversations across the entire village (not just with a select few)
     
  • Include stories, recipes & information in newsletters that represent the diversity of the village community
     
  • Ask residents what they would like to share about their heritage, lifestyle or background
     
  • Ensure diversity activities are an agenda item on team and resident meetings

A quick quote from Jesse Jackson:

“When everyone is included, everyone wins.”

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