In the last census 30% of Australia’s population was culturally and linguistically diverse and number wise, Indians were number 2 from top. Many Indian parents are joining their children here as they are no longer able to live on their own in their parent country. Moving at a late age in life into a different culture is hard on them and can lead to loneliness and depression. As Australia’ migrant and ageing population, both grow, this needs to be addressed.

Today we hear from Renu Tiwary as to why it happens and what could be done to alleviate this situation.

Note: this transcript is automatically transcribed and may contain errors.

Renu Tiwary: Migration being a hard issue. We have spoken to various people in the Indian diaspora here to hear what they feel can be done about it. We first speak to Dr Mina Tolat, a psychiatrist who also works with called communities migration.

Dr Mina Tolat: Acculturation is challenging regardless of the stage of life that we are in. When we’re younger, it’s easier for us to negotiate the sort of obstacles that we’re faced with. And as we grow older, we become more rigid. We become more used to certain practices, customs and way of life. And it’s really hard then to negotiate a different landscape. So what tends to happen? And the commonest issue that has been raised is that of not being proficient in the language. That is very isolating. The other problem that they do face is lack of digital literacy. So they’re lonely. They’re alone in their homes when children go out to work. So digital lack of digital literacy then puts them in a very difficult position in terms of communicating with the outside world. The other problem is limited social network, very little previous exposure to Western way of life, negotiating social services, health services, so on and so forth. These are people who have contributed for most part of their life. They have been the providers. They’ve been decision makers. They have their own social network and their life. Uh, there’s a there’s a certain cultural sanction in the countries that they come from. They’ve got religious, uh, activities or vocations. There’s so much connectivity, if you think about it from an Indian context. And when you come here, life is lonely, life is quiet, and their sense of usefulness sort of changes when you know the little children or grandchildren that they’re looking after have grown up. Then there’s a sense of who am I? What is my role and where to from here. So and it is at that time, I think there’s a sense of, uh, aging in the wrong place for those of us who have come into the country, we are all now aging. And this is something that is going to become a reality because Australia is a is a mature population. It’s maturing as we speak. I think these are challenges that are going to be faced.

Renu Tiwary: So what can they do to change the situation?

Dr Mina Tolat: I think the change sort of starts with thinking about every elderly migrant person as an individual, and not as a homogenous sort of population. What is it that they see for themselves here in this new country, in their space, encouraging them to connect with society, where local communities, local councils have to play a very pivotal role in organizing activities so that every day is not the same old, same old, and there’s not that much a sense of being removed from society being on their own and and falling into a state of depression and demoralization. I mean.

Renu Tiwary: We now talk to Dr Prabodh Malhotra, who has recently finished a 1300 kilometer walk from Melbourne to Sydney, raising funds for the McGrath Foundation for Breast Cancer. Doctor Malhotra is a 71 years old now and he has done this walk second year in a row. Let’s see what he has to say since retirement.

Dr Prabodh Malhotra: Uh, some of my friends suggested to me, you need to, uh, just put your feet up and relax now. But that wasn’t me. Uh, I’ve not. I wasn’t born that way. When you do a walk like this, you meet lots of, uh, great people. Just. We have to take the first step in the right direction. Have faith in God. Have faith in yourself. Don’t have pity on yourself. You know I can’t do it. No. Turn around. Yes. Okay. I may not be able to do everything, but whatever you can do. I have been walking for the last 40 odd years. But until two years ago. Three years ago, I was walking to stay fit. So the the focus was on my health. But when I signed up with McGrath Foundation for this walk last year and this year, the focus shifted to community health. I’m still getting all the benefits of being healthy. That’s that’s a bonus, but your focus is shifted, so you need to shift the focus from me to the society. I think that’s what the big difference is. And people come from everywhere to help you. A person thinks that the society or the Indian community or the friends or the family should have a pity on me because I am 70 now. They should just, um, you know, bring food to my table and press my legs and feet and all that. No, we need to help ourselves. Even if you can do something, um, playing music or singing bhajans or doing yoga, whatever you can do easily, manageable within your limits of your. Or body because the basic rule is use it or lose it. Whether it’s a mental game or the physical exercise. And I think, uh, as soon as you signing up for a good cause, um, people come together. People come forward to help you, to talk to you. Don’t feel lonely at all because you are not alone. There are about 8 billion people on the planet. Be part of it. Be active. Let’s just get into it and take the first step.

Renu Tiwary: We now go to Anu, who has had a very difficult time in her life in the recent years. She’s had four operations for advanced cancer. She’s lost family members in Covid and then finally at the end, she lost her son, but she still held it together. And then she talks about what helped her to keep it going and not feeling like she’s lost it all.

Anu: Life has taken us through a lot of difficult times and challenging times. When we came from India, I had joined family over here. We stayed together, all of us. And um, of course the family was there to help, but I had a great, uh, foundation from Art of living as well. You know, the strength and the positivity that I have, um, held till up till now has come from there. The thing is, like, you know, you have to help yourself to get help from others. So the other part was like, you know, I have given a lot to the community. Which has helped the community to give back things to me. So that is another thing I feel that like, you know, um, has, um, had a made a big impact in my life. When you give something to others, you get back 100 times more. The thing is, with Art of living, the practice that I’m doing is, uh, it relieves a lot of, uh, stress and tension and everything. Not just I know life has challenges for everyone. It’s not that, like, you know, you don’t have challenges in life, but this helps us to deal with the challenges, to cope with the challenges to deal it with calmly, peacefully and practically.

Renu Tiwary: We now speak to Punam, who has helped her mother-in-law, who came here in late stage to settle in this country and find a fulfilling life.

Punam: My effort mainly was for taking her or understanding what the council activities were, what was the possibility for her to keep herself busy while my husband and I would work. We wanted her to feel part of the community, make her own little friends, and we introduced her to the Indian senior citizen. She started going there regularly, then ringing them up sometime talking to them. I think that effort has to be done by individual. You have to be involved in community activities.

Renu Tiwary: So these are the thoughts from the various people from the Indian community as to how we can assimilate our seniors in the Australian society.