Australian-Indian senior citizens from Melbourne’s west went on a social camp late last year, as part of a program aimed at increasing participation in physical activities, improving mental health and strengthening social connections.
Around 25 seniors from Club 60 seniors club, based in Wyndham, headed to YMCA’s Lady Northcote camp to take part in a range of activities – from archery to a giant swing.
The purpose of the outing was to increase the participants’ awareness and experience of the benefit of physical health and social connections.
Local Drug Action Team project worker from IndianCare, Gagan Sohi, said: “the event boosted awareness of the many benefits of keeping active and being part of a strong and connected community.”
The day camp program for the Club 60 members was run by the YMCA through Australian Multicultural Community Service (AMCS) - a partner of the LDAT - and the LDAT participants themselves had a hand in planning the day. It was a real team effort.
The group determined that they wanted to have an outing that would help them feel more connected to their community.
“The participants’ favourite activities were archery and the giant swing. One of the gentlemen said the giant swing made him feel like he was living his childhood again,” said Gagan.
After the camp, one participant reported that: “this was the best experience of my life and it’s like a change in my daily routine”, while another said he “felt highly alive after the activity and loved the group experience.”
For a lot of the senior participants, this camp day was the first time they had done anything like this. Gagan explained that there is less access to structured outdoor activities in India, when compared with Australia.
She also observed that the activities helped the participants learn the value of connection and being together. The giant swing proved to be a great team building activity, as the rope to hoist the swing into the air is pulled by one team of people at a time.
“They have worked all their lives and now they are here. It’s totally different to what they are used to,” Gagan said.
IndianCare Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation, addressing the welfare needs of the Indian Community in Victoria. It’s a busy organisation, being the lead of two LDATs; the Western Alcohol Action Team and the South East Action Team. These support Indian communities in the western and south eastern suburbs of Melbourne respectively.
The excursion was organised by the Western Alcohol Action Team as part of its Community Action Plan to strengthen protective factors within their audience to increase community resilience. It also aims to foster safer attitudes, knowledge and behaviours toward alcohol consumption with a focus on young people and seniors.
Other initiatives designed to reduce the risk factors and increase the protective factors planned by the LDAT include: English classes for seniors to increase their confidence and social connectedness; work readiness skills workshops for people aged 18-30; and, community resilience support for recent migrants.
Ultimately, the LDAT hopes that by helping some of the younger and older members, they will be able to touch the whole community.
“I hope, over this whole project, we see the change in the participants, and they can share the knowledge with other community members,” said Gagan.
The LDAT is a partnership between IndianCare Inc., Club 60, Australian Multicultural Community Service Inc., Wyndham Social Cricket League, Brothers and Sisters Foundation.