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'There is a need to provide culturally appropriate palliative care to Punjabis living in Australia'

The final report of the inquiry into Australia's aged care system was released on March 1. Source: Getty Images

Indian-origin academic researcher, Dr Sabine Wardle has conducted research to support the provision of 'culturally and religiously' appropriate palliative care to senior members of the Punjabi community living in Australia.

Dr Wardle is a lecturer in social work and human services at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Wagga Wagga’s Charles Sturt University in New South Wales.

Her recent research based on the experiences of the older Punjabi Indians and their families, especially those living in the regional areas calls upon service providers to examine their practice for cultural appropriateness.


  • Research highlights the need for more culturally and religiously appropriate resources for older Punjabis 
  • Dr Wardle says language remains the biggest challenge for community members in need of palliative care 
  • She says there is scope for improving access to and experience of palliative care

In an interview with SBS Punjabi, Dr Wardle said that the research findings primarily highlight the need for more "culturally and religiously appropriate" and inclusive resources for senior community members towards the end of life.

"I worked in different aged care facilities when I first arrived in Australia in 2005, and while I was working there I realised that the aged care and nursing home industry lacks the cultural and religious facilities for the older Punjabi Indians," she said.

Need for more culturally appropriate sources for older Punjabi community living in Australia
Dr Sabine Wardle, is a Lecturer in Social Work and Human Services at School of Humanities and Social Sciences in Wagga Wagga’s Charles Sturt University

Language and communication issues:

Dr Wardle, who takes care of her 76-year-old mother at home said language remains the "biggest challenge" at care facilities, especially in regional areas.

"My own experience with my mother's care motivated me to undertake this research for the more ageing population from the Punjabi-Indian background.

"Through my research, I found that language is a very big challenge which for older Punjabi Indians at aged care facilities who find it difficult to communicate because they often can't converse in or understand English," she said.

As part of her research, Dr Wardle, who has also worked as a social worker, spoke to family members of older Punjabis.

"Some of the challenges were related to the choice of food as they could not read the menu in English, and they even hesitated to ask for help," she discovered.

Dr Wardle has also made a submission to the Aged Care Royal Commission seeking improvements and more facilities for the culturally and linguistically diverse communities. 

To hear the full interview in Punjabi click on the audio player above. 

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