Dutch aged care provider to build Indian retirement home after a Victorian aged provider refused a request for a vegetarian kitchen and prayer rooms.
Melbourne will soon be the home of Australia's first Indian aged care facility after a Dutch care provider stepped in to save the project.
The Melbourne-based Confederation of Indian Australian Associations had a memorandum of understanding, to develop the residential facility at Dandenong, in Melbourne's south-east.
But association chairman Vasan Srinivasan told SBS News the provider pulled out after a request was made for a vegetarian commercial kitchen and four prayer rooms, which would have added an extra $2 million to the cost of construction.
"We needed the prayer rooms for the community to follow their religious discourse and teaching on a regular basis", he said.
"We were a bit disappointed, but we had to move on."
The association has now teamed with the agency DutchCare, which already operates several retirement villages outside Melbourne.
The Indian aged care facility will be built on land DutchCare owns at the nearby Noble Park and the agency has reapplied for a $4 million federal government grant that was returned when the original deal fell through.
Mr Srinivasan said a key benefit of the Indian-specific facility would be the provision of Hindi-speaking staff, which would allow the elderly residents to speak their own language.
He said research had shown dementia sufferers often reverted to their mother tongue as the disease progressed.
"As well, we'd like to bring Indian community festivals like Diwali into the premises, to make sure the Indian seniors are part of the community even though they live in aged care," he said.
Former cookery instructor, 85-year-old Krishna Aurora, hopes to be among the first residents.
She said the promise of vegetarian food was a big drawcard for her.
"I love vegetarian food, as many Indians do," she said.
"And people should be given the food they like."
People from non-English speaking backgrounds are a significant and growing proportion of Australia's older population.
The 2011 census estimated they would make up more than 30 per cent of Australia's over 65 population by 2021.