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Home Diversity resources Common barriers

Common barriers

While some barriers may be more likely for some groups, each person’s experience will be different.  There are a number of barriers that are common across diverse groups within the community.  For example, having limited access to resources (e.g. housing, finances and support) creates a range of challenges and potential barriers to access for many people.  At an organisational and systemic level, it’s therefore impact to consider how to ensure equitable access to services for people with limited finances.  Within the Australian aged care system, there is a clear expectation that older people must not be denied a service because they cannot pay for it (My Aged Care).

Other common barriers include:

  • Communication challenges
  • Social isolation
  • Experiences of trauma, grief and loss
  • Social exclusion.

Communication challenges

Inclusive communication

Plain Language Association International. (PLAIN) Available from:

EMR Alliance (2017) Connecting through inclusive communication practices.  Available from:

Scope have developed a range of resources focussed on effective communication with people with a range of communication difficulties.  There are also a number of short videos available on their website that demonstrate communication strategies and tools in action.  Of particular interest may be:

Meaningful Ageing Australia’s ‘See Me. Know Me.’ campaign is founded on the idea of making identities visible, and provides a good example of how unique and varied the life experiences of older Australians are.   Further information is available form:

Beyond Blue (2019) Have the conversation with older people.  Available from:

Real Care the Second Time around have developed a number of resources to support staff when working with people who identify as Forgotten Australians / Care Leavers including:

Cations, M., Browne-Yung, K., O’Neil, D., Smyth, A., Putsey, P., Walker, R., Corlis, M., Laver, K., Fernandez, E. & Crotty, M. (2020)  Safe and inclusive aged care for Forgotten Australians / Care Leavers: Recommendations for aged care providers. Adelaide: Flinders University.  Available from:

VANISH (2014) Supporting those affected by Past Adoption Practices.  Available from:

Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG) (2018) Things to Consider when working with Older Women who are experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness.  Available here.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association have worked with experts to create the 10 Questions series of leaflets that are designed to increase consumer knowledge and make the journey into residential aged care easier.  Visit for further information and to download the suite of 10 questions leaflets.

Inclusive language

National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) (2021) Strategies for combatting ageism through age-positive language.  Available from:

Health Issues Centre (2019) Don’t call me frail: Social listening report (discusses inclusive language for older people) Available from:

NSW Ministry of Health (2019) Communicating Positively: A Guide to Appropriate Aboriginal Terminology.  Available from:

Dementia Support Australia (2022) First Nations Language Guide.  Available from:

Victorian Government DPC (2021) LGBTIQ+ inclusive language guide.  Available from:

Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA) (2020) Inclusion guide to respecting people with intersex variations.  Available from:

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) (2021) PWDA Language Guide: A guide to language about disability.  Available from:

Dementia Australia (2021) Dementia Language Guidelines.  Available from:

Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) (2022) Recovery Oriented Language Guide: Third Edition. Sydney, Australia.  Available from:

Everymind. Mental Health: Language and stigma.  Available from:

Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (2010) Workers with Mental Illness: a Practical Guide for Managers.  (See Appendix C: How to talk about mental illness).  Available from:

Communicating with people living with Dementia or cognitive impairments

Dementia Australia provide a range of resources to support staff understand the impact of dementia on communication and strategies to support effective communication.  These include:

Dementia Support Australia (2022) Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Communication Cards.  Available from:

Communicating with people with sensory deficits (e.g. vision or hearing loss)

Deaf Australia. Accessibility & Inclusion toolkit.  Available from:

Note: People who have a hearing or speech impairment can contact My Aged Care through the National Relay Service.  They can also access free interpreting or captioning services through Deaf Connect.  Further information is available from:

National Relay Service is an Australia-wide phone service for people who are deaf, have hearing impairment and/or speech impairment and people wanting to communicate with them. Further information is available from:

Deaf Connect provides information, referral, advocacy, interpreting services (and direct aged care and disability services) for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.  Free interpreting and captioning services are available for aged care services providers.  Further information is available from:

Note: People who are visually impaired can access information from My Aged Care in large print or braille.  Further information is available from:

Vision Australia. Communicating effectively.  Available from:

We C Hope (2017) How to Communicate with People Who are Blind or Vision Impaired.  Available from:

Culturally appropriate communication

LaTrobe University and the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) (2014) Koorified: Aboriginal Communication and Well-Being.  Available from:

The following organisations have published a range of resources that focus on effective communication with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse people:

PICAC NT. Cultural background resources. Tools to help care for seniors from CALD backgrounds (includes helpful resources and tips around accessing information in language and communication).  Available from:

Multicultural Aged Care Inc. provide the Multicultural Aged Care Library which includes a collection of resources focusing on the cultural and linguistic aspects of aged and community care.  Membership is free and resources available for loan include books, training materials, DVDs, music, activities, armchair travel, games and communication aids.  Further information is available from:

Tasmanian DHHS (2017) Working with culturally and linguistically diverse CALD communities – Tips for communication (video).  Produced by at+m marketing.  Available from:

Harrison, R., Walton, M., Chitkara, U., Manias, E., Chauhan, A., Latanik, M. & Leone, D. (2020) Beyond translation: Engaging with culturally and linguistically diverse consumers. Health Expect. 2020;23:159–168.  Available from:

Note: My Aged Care have created a number of resources in different languages.  Further information is available from:

Working with interpreters

Note: People who have difficulty speaking or understanding English can contact My Aged Care through the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National).  Further information is available from:

Department of Health and Aged Care.Translating and Interpreting Service for aged care service providers.  Available from:

Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) provide a range of resources for staff and consumers on their website:  Of particular interest may be:

Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) (2016)  Australia’s growing linguistic diversity: An opportunity for a strategic approach to language services policy and practice.  Available from:

Centre for Culture, ethnicity and health (2022) Accessing Interpreter Services practice guide.  Available from:

National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) Using interpreters during a cognitive assessment.  Information and video available from:

Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators Inc (AUSit) provide a range of resources to support you work effectively with translators and interpreters.  These are available from:

Migrant and Refugee Women’s Health Partnership (MRWHP) (2019) Guide for Clinicians Working with Interpreters in Healthcare Settings.  Available from:

Further information about English literacy is available from:

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2013) 4228.0 – Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, Australia, 2011-2012.  Available from:

Australian Government. Style manual – Literacy and access.  Available from:

The following organisations provide information and support for people with low literacy:

Further information about health literacy is available from:

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2022) Health literacy.  Available from:

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2018) National Health Survey: Health literacy.  Available from:

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) has developed a range of resources for consumers, clinicians and health service organisations to support improvements in health literacy.  These are available from their resource library:

Victorian Primary Care Partnerships Online Health Literacy course is a free online course designed to support staff working across health, aged care and community sectors.  Available from:

Centre for culture, ethnicity and health. Resources in Health literacy. Available from:

Health Literacy Innovations. Health literacy innovations publications.  Available from:

enliven (2013) Organisational Health Literacy self-assessment resource. Available from:

Nutbeam, D. & Lloyd, J. E. (2021). Understanding and responding to health literacy as a social determinant of health. Annual Review of Public Health, 42(1) p159–173. Understanding and Responding to Health Literacy as a Social Determinant of Health (

Kickbusch, I., Pelikan, J.M., Apfel, F. & Tsouros, A.D. (‎2013)‎ Health literacy: the solid facts. World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe. Available from:

Health Issues Centre (HIC) & Victorian Refugee Health Network (VRHN) (2016)  Working together to improve health literacy of women from refugee background.  Available from:

Further information about digital literacy is available from:

Department of Social Services (DSS)Be Connected – improving digital literacy for older Australians.  Available from:

Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing (CCDA) (2022) Digital inclusion practice guide.  Available from:

Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) (2021) Measuring Australia’s digital divide.  Available from:

eSafety Commissioner (2018) Understanding the digital behaviours of older Australians: Summary of national survey and qualitative research.  Available from:

The Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association (ASCCA) is the Peak Body representing Computer and Technology groups and clubs for Seniors throughout Australia.  Further information is available from:

Further information about financial literacy is available from:

Australian Government. National Financial Capability Strategy.  Available from:

Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). Financial abuse of older Australians.  Available here.

Compass. Financial Abuse Resource Centre.  Available from:

Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) (2020) Powers of attorney and financial abuse of older people in Australia.  Available from:

Social isolation and loneliness

Social isolation

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2021) Social isolation and loneliness.  Available from:

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2022) People with a disability in Australia.  Available from:

Ending Loneliness together

Compass. Isolation.  Available from:

Health Issues Centre (HIC)  Social inclusion resources.  Available from:

Dementia Australia (2021) Discrimination and dementia – enough is enough.  Dementia Action Week Report 2021.  Available from:

Smith, B.J. and Lim, M.H. (2020) How the COVID-19 pandemic is focusing attention on loneliness and social isolation. Public Health Res Pract. 2020;30(2):e3022008 

Dementia Australia (2020) One day the support was gone.  The mental health impact of COVID-19 on people living with dementia, their families and carers.  Available from:

Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) (2021) Stronger Together: Loneliness and social connectedness in Australia.  Focus on the States Series, No 8/21.  Available from:

Griefline. Loneliness and isolation.  Available from:

Telstra Exchange. Talking Loneliness (website includes videos, stories and the Talking Loneliness Report: Research into the state of loneliness in Australia in 2021)  Available from:

Services and support available for older people who are isolated

Note:  The Department of Health and Aged Care recognise the importance of social connections as a key element of older people’s health and wellbeing.  Building older people’s capacity and confidence to socialise, and creating opportunities to build and strengthen connections are embedded as priorities throughout all aged care programs.  This is also reflected throughout the Aged Care Quality Standards.

Department of Health and Aged Care (DoHAC) Community Visitors Scheme (CVS). Available from: 

Department of Health and Aged Care (DoHAC) About men’s sheds.  Available from:

Department of Social Services (DSS) Seniors Connected Program.  Available from:

Dementia Support Australia (DSS) Dementia Engagement Modelling Program (DEMP) supports people living with dementia in residential aged care who are at risk or have become isolated, frustrated or fearful – or are at risk of developing behaviours and psychological symptoms of dementia.  The program provides free best practice, relationship-centred engagement strategies that help you provide meaningful engagement to residents living with dementia. It also gives you support and coaching to make sure everyone benefits from the program.  Further information is available from:

Experiences of trauma, grief and loss


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2022) Mental health services in Australia: Stress and trauma.  Available from:

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2018) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations and descendants: number, demographic characteristics and selected outcomes.  Available from:

Phoenix Australia (2019) What is trauma?  Available from:

Department of Health and Aged Care (DoHAC)  COVID-19 aged care grief and trauma support services.  Available from:

Phoenix Australia offers information and tools to support those who have had traumatic experiences, and trauma recovery resources for carers and aged care providers.

There are 3 resource packages designed for the aged care sector, available on the Phoenix Australia aged care website:

The Blue Knot foundation is the National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma.  They advocate for and provide support to people who have experiences of complex trauma, and those who support them, personally and professionally.  Further information and a range of resources are available from their website:

The Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Centre (USA) has created a number of useful resources that describe trauma-informed care, it’s benefits and enablers (within practice and across organisations).  Their website also includes a number of short videos and case studies that highlight key concepts.  Available from

Relationships Australia (Tas) have collated a range of resources (including, brochures, easy English resources and videos) that discuss trauma and counselling.  These are available from:

The Real Care the Second Time Around project has created a range of practical resources and training programs that aim to support the aged care sector understand and respond to the needs of Forgotten Australians / Care Leavers.  The project is a collaboration between Helping Hand Aged Care, Flinders University & Relationships Australia SA.  Further information is available from:

The Working With Aged Care Clients Who Experienced Childhood Trauma in ‘Care’ (online training package) provides an introduction to understanding the impacts of childhood trauma for people now entering aged care.  It focuses on the experiences of Forgotten Australians, Stolen Generations, Former Child Migrants and people affected by forced adoption.  Available from:

The Healing Foundation has created the online Healing portal for Indigenous healing resources.  Available from:

Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing (TIMHWB) (2021a) Fact sheet: social and emotional wellbeing (2021a).  Available from:

Mental Health coordination Council (MHCC)  Trauma-informed Care and Practice Organisation Toolkit (TICPOT).  Available from:

Department of Social Services (DSS) (2019) Supporting people affected by forced adoptions – fact sheet.  Available from:

Wall, S., Santalucia, Y., Salem, M., Giacomin, D. McDonald, R. & Bosnjak, F. (2011) Enhancing the lives of Older Refugees: A self improvement resource for community service providers.  Available from:

Foundation House (2016) Integrated trauma recovery service model.  Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (Foundation House).  Available from:

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (2020) Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Complex PTSD.  Available from:

Grief and loss

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (ACGB) provides tailored support, advice and specialised counselling with a bereavement practitioner in a one-to-one or group setting.  Resources of particular interest may be:

Aged Care grief and bereavement support Available from:

  • Grief and loss fact sheets for professionals Available here

Griefline (Ph: 1800 845 745) provides free telephone and online support services and resources for people experiencing grief and loss.  Their website also includes a number of resources related to grief, loss and trauma.  Further information is available from:

GriefLink provides information for people who are dealing with the grief caused by the death of someone close to them, and for those who are supporting them.  In addition to general information about grief, there are a number of factsheets that describe grief in different contexts / circumstances (e.g. grief associated with dementia, residential aged care, military service, grief in different cultures).  Further information is available from:

The National Association for Loss and Grief (NALAG) provides grief support, training and education.  Further information is available from:  Resources of particular interest may be:

  • Placing a loved one in residential aged care. Available here.
  • Loss & Grief in Later Life Available here.

HammondCare provides a range of articles and resources related to bereavement and grief.  Available from:

Head to Health offers a curated list of digital mental health resources from trusted Australian organisations.  Further information is available from:

Elder abuse

Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Elder Abuse.  Available from:

Attorney-General’s Department. Protecting the Rights of Older Australians.  Available from:

Council of Attorneys-General (CAG) (2019) National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians (Elder Abuse) 2019 – 2023.  Available from:

Compass. Guiding action on elder abuse.  Available from:

National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) – Elder Abuse and dementia (series of short films for providers with tip sheets).  Available from:

Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) Abuse of older people.  Available from:

1800ELDERHelp (Ph: 1800 353 374) is a free and confidential National Elder Abuse phone line for information and support and referrals.  Further information is available from:

Relationships Australia (Vic) Elder abuse.  Available from:

Seniors Rights Victoria. Elder Abuse Response Toolkit.  Available from:

Family Advocacy and Support Services (FASS) are available in each State and Territory to provide free legal advice and support at court for people affected by domestic and family violence (including elder abuse).  Further information is available from:

1800 respect (Ph: 1800 737 732) is the national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling, information and support service. Further information is available from:  Their website also includes a range of resources for professionals, including:

Services Australia. Family and domestic violence: Where to get help.  Information about support available for people affected by family and domestic violence (including support from Services Australia and other organisations) is available from:

Social exclusion

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2022) Social determinants of health – Social inclusion.  Available from:

Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) & the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (MIAESR) – Social Exclusion Monitor.  Available from:

Shannon, S., Theberge, S., Larocque, J. & Everitt, E. (2016) Social Exclusion (video).  Available from:

Inclusive Australia. Learn more about social inclusion.  Available from:

National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) and Curtin University. Dementia – A Democratic disease (short film).  Available from:

Dementia Australia (2021b) Dementia Action Week – Real Voices (video, images and quotes).  Available from: 

LGBTIQ+ Health Australia (LHA) (2018) The Cycle of Invisibility – a model for understanding exclusion.  Available at:

Strategies to support social inclusion

City of Ryde (2018) Social Inclusion and Diversity Checklist.  Available from:

Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (2015) Building Social Cohesion in our Communities.  Available from: