Election handouts: What we could have done better

Indian community misses out on aged care opportunity, writes PAWAN LUTHRA

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A popular Christmas poem Twas the night before Christmas was written about the excitement in the house before Santa’s sleigh lands on the roof. Santa, carrying a sack of toys with him, fills up the children’s Christmas stockings. Folklore has it that this 19th century poem started the concept of Christmas gift giving.

Just like at Christmas time, at election time, the politicians reenergise as Santas and come visiting with their sack of goodies. Good constituents find their stockings full.

And if anyone deserves to be showered with largesse, the Indian community in NSW certainly does – they’ve all been good boys and girls. Over the years, they have multiplied their activities and dutifully invited all politicians to these gatherings and given them a platform to be recognised by the community. Speeches are made, shawls are dutifully presented, and photos are shared in print and social media.

Yet, the stockings are not filled – and not because they community is undeserving, but simply because they have not bothered to put up the stocking and ask.

For the growing Indian-Australian community in NSW, that indeed is a matter of concern: we are so busy promoting our own fairs and melas and dinners that we fail to challenge the powers that be or want to be, for better benefits for the community.

One demand that could have been brought up, is help in establishing an Indian ethno-centric aged care facility in NSW.

Imagine a facility where culture-specific care is on offer, with special care given towards food, cultural-religious endeavours and entertainment. Where the care staff are fluent in English as well as other South Asian languages. Places like this do exist in the UK.

Melbourne’s Indian community at the recent launch of their seniors’ facility

Down in Victoria, the Indian community is starting to work through a $10.4 million grant by Premier Daniel Andrews. Two blocks of land are currently sought around the areas where the Indian population lives, so an aged care option can move forward. The NSW government has allocated a similar $7 million fund to the Maronite community to help with an aged care project over the next 2-4 years.

And as we get closer to the election date, more such substantial community grants are expected to be announced. Preparing for such substantial allocation of funding can take up to two years with proper research, case studies and analysis before they can be lodged.

The Indian Australian community in NSW seems to have missed the ball on this one prior to the 2019 elections. Shame, as this seems to be a close election and there has been ample opportunity to present a strong case for the funding of a community project.

Santa may not leave much in the stocking this time. Christmas does come round every year, but State elections are on regular three-year cycles.

2022 then.