Since adopting multiculturalism in the 1970s, Australia has become the most ethnically-diverse country in the world. Our Dandenong North home warmly embraces this cultural shift by offering activities and programs tailored to residents’ cultures and traditions. For instance, a fortnightly Euro Club unites our residents for conversation over börek pastries and specially-brewed Turkish coffee. “Bringing the same cultures together helps us to make residents feel more at home”, advises Lifestyle Coordinator, Naomi Tangimama.

The biggest impact is often felt by residents when carers go above and beyond to accommodate their individual needs. Shortly after moving into Regis Dandenong North in March, resident Olga Gagic asked for some knitting needles so she could continue her favourite hobby. The team offered a few different sets of needles but soon realised that Olga required a particular type made from repurposed umbrella spokes. After searching around, Naomi was able to locate a pair through another Serbian resident’s family member, and Olga was thrilled.

It’s easy to see why knitting is so important to Olga. Originally from a small village in Serbia, Olga’s family used to yarn and thread the wool from their own sheep. “My mother taught me how to knit with different techniques and I would take orders from our neighbours and make clothes,” she says. These days her favourite thing to knit is socks. Having made hundreds of pairs over the years, Olga finds the process relaxing, productive, and creative. “I do it almost every day. I feel so happy and satisfied to see the work I have made with my own hands,” she says.

Hearing this, it becomes very clear why keeping people connected with their culture is so important: these pastimes form part of a person’s identity and bring them immense joy. “Encouraging these activities makes such a huge difference in someone’s life” says Naomi.

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