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Government award celebrates the achievements of HSSF
Hindu Social Services Foundation (HSSF) has won the 2015 NSW Carers Award (Highly Commended) for yeomen services to community, at a glittering ceremony held recently at NSW Parliament House.
Initiated last year, the national awards recognise and celebrate the significant effortand extraordinary contribution of carers, both to individuals and wider community. Coinciding with Carers Week (11-17 October), the awards are organised by the NSW Government in partnership with Carers NSW to raise awareness of the key elements of the NSW Carers Act. Nominations were invited in June and assessed by a special panel from NSW Department of Family and Community Services.
According to latest census, there are 2.7 million carers in Australia, 770,000 of whom are primary carers – providing round the clock support to someone in need. In NSW, more than one in 10 people provide unpaid care to the elderly or those with disability, mental illness, a chronic health condition or dementia.
“The National Carer Awards spotlight the extraordinary role of carers in our society,” John Ajaka, Minister for Ageing and Disability Services said. “These awards are a way for Australians to say thank you for the significant contribution made not just to the lives of those they care for, but the nation as a whole.”
State winners will now enter the running for a National Carer Award across four categories – foster and kinship, aged care, disability carer, and young carer aged 25 years and under. The winners will be announced in November.
Initiated by Swami Vigyananda during the second annual Hindu conference in 2009, Hindu Social Services Foundation is the only organisation of its kind to service the holistic needs of Hindu families in Australia. Inspired by the motto Sat Hastha Samahara, Sahastra Hastha Sankira (create wealth with 100 hands and share it with 1000), HSSF has raised awareness of the needs of differently abled people from ethnic minorities. It has successfully driven many projects and programs, particularly reaching out to culturally diverse communities in the Hills Shire, Parramatta, Holroyd, Liverpool, Blacktown and Hornsby.
The NSW chapter, which caters for over 300 carers, is managed by Dr Shoba Rudra Kumar, Akila Ramarathinam, Subashree Balachander, Saraswati Sashi, R Subramaniam, Uma Ramasubramaniam and Venkatraman.
“Acknowledging our work through such mainstream recognition is a huge step and means a lot to our special families and their carers,” Akila Ramarathinam told Indian Link. “Our organisation exists primarily through the selfless contribution of volunteers. They have worked tirelessly to provide support to carers and their familiesboth through physical and financial contributions. The network is amazing.”
Ramarathinam expressed how winning such an award will help raise HSSF’s profile in the community.
“We particularly want to reach out to new migrants,” she said. “Finding roots in a new country is hard enough for normal families; for disability carers it can be overwhelming. Our aim is to facilitate links and provide respite, resources and support services to such families. Hopefully we can access better funding for such services through greater recognition,” she added.
Under the aegis of VHP Australia, HSSF has fostered strong partnerships with mainstream disability institutions, multicultural groups, local, state and federal governments to initiate activities and build awareness of carers in the community. Among the institutions HSSF works closely with are Differently Abled People Association (DAPA), Boronio Multi Cultural Centre, Bhutanese Refugee Centre, Norwest Disability Centre, Special Olympics Group, Chinese Special Support Group, alongside other disability schools and centres throughout Sydney’s west and northwest.
HSSF runs annual camps, workshops, training and information sessions, cultural events, charity shows and picnic days for carers and their loved ones. Reaching out to newly migrated families with special needs children, it also organises networking sessions.
The flagship disability carer’s picnic has been a huge success involving many mainstream families as well. Differently abled students have been integrated into the Bala Samskar Kendra classes with specially tailored shloka chanting and music therapy programs.
“The unique feature of our organisation is its inclusive and tolerant outlook. Our policy is embrace rather than exclude – Vasudeva Kutumbakam – the world, as one happy family is our underlying philosophy,” Akila Ramarathinam explained. “Although Hindu in name, our aim is to facilitate events where the carers from any ethnic, religious or cultural background can come together, sit back, relax and enjoy, leaving their worries behind for the day.”
The HSSF annual special needs day out is scheduled for 28 November at Don Moore Centre, while a carers’picnic to Helensburgh Temple has been organised for 6 December.