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Working with Macedonian Elderly Citizens. Presenter: Slobodanka Trajkovski Macedonian Community Welfare Association Inc. MCWA Services. Advocacy on behalf of the Macedonian Speaking community MCWA Access and Support Program (SAPP)

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Working with Macedonian Elderly Citizens

Presenter: Slobodanka Trajkovski

Macedonian Community Welfare Association Inc.


MCWA Services

  • Advocacy on behalf of the Macedonian Speaking community
  • MCWA Access and Support Program (SAPP)
  • Comprehensive 3 hour cultural training package specific to the Macedonian speaking community
  • Friendly Visiting Programs (North and West Region)
  • Carers support group
  • Multicultural PAG Group (Dementia specific)
  • Planned Activity Groups -Whittlesea, Brimbank and Wyndham (core)
  • PAG Evening North (high)
  • Community Partners Program (CPP)
  • MCWA Complete Care

Presentation Aims

To enhance awareness and understanding of the Macedonianculture in relation to:- Its historical and political background - Cultural behaviours and values- Political issues within the community- Religious and spiritual practices- Cuisine- Language- Education and health experiences in Macedonia- Family networks and relationships- Migration and settlement- Community demographics


Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the cultural, religious, political & historical implications on the Macedonian community in Australia.
  • Identify key experiences of the Macedonian people, both past and present.
  • List the major area’s of settlement in Victoria, and the main reasoning for this.

Capital: Skopje

Population: 2,2 million (500,000 residing in Skopje)

Borders: North – Serbia and Montenegro

South – Greece

East – Bulgaria

West – Albania

Political System : Parliamentary Democracy

Religion : Macedonian Orthodox (64.7%), Muslim (33.3%) and other Christian

Language: Macedonian, Albanian, Romani, Turkish etc.


Migration and

Settlement Experience

  • Political and Economic Hardship
  • Many left from being traumatized for almost a decade of war, and Greek oppression which continues till today in their homeland.
  • Pechalba
  • The shift from pelchalba to settler occurred for personal and political reasons, thus the wives and children joined the pechalbari.
  • In Victoria, early settlers congregated in the inner or outer Fitzroy, Collingwood, Preston, Richmond and the Werribee farms on Melbourne’s fringe.
statistical discrepancies
Statistical Discrepancies

There is an issue of invisible statistics. These include:

  • Macedonians being citizens of other Nations
  • Significant portion of ethnic Macedonians being born in geographical regions now part of Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania.
  • Large numbers of Macedonians refusing to list FYROM or Republic of Macedonia on census forms, insisting on writing only ‘Macedonia’ which is not recognised by Australian government departments and data collection agencies.
  • Most government and non government departments still use country of birth as the main indicator of ethnic identity.
statistical discrepancies cont
Statistical Discrepancies cont.
  • 3.9% of the Greece born population in Victoria speak mainly Macedonian at home.
  • DIAC has included Republic of Macedonia under the Country of Birth category as part of their data collection only since 1993.

The Macedonian Family..

  • The traditional structure of the Macedonian family was historically the extended family. Family was a source of economic and cultural survival.
  • In Australia today, this is not as big an effect on the family home and structure, so ultimately children are far more independent, yet there is still a large respect for the parents.
  • Traditionally, men are the head of the household and the breadwinners, and the women are responsible for the maintenance of the home and the family.

Macedonian kinship Structure…

  • Macedonians have a very rich and complex kinship structure. Kinship relations encompass both the matrimonial and paternal ties, and the way a relative is addressed identifies this lineage. For example, the word for ‘aunt’ changes and varies according to how one is related to that aunt:

Strina, nina- father’s brother’s wife

Vujna- mother’s brohter’s wife

Teta - father’s/mother’s sister


The Macedonian Language..

  • The Macedonians gave the world the Cyrillic script.
  • It Belongs to the Slavonic Group of languages together with Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian and Bulgarian.
  • The Macedonian Alphabet has 31 letters, and it is phonetic – which means that it is spelt as it is said.
  • Basic Words:

Zdravo – Hello

Prijatno – Goodbye

Kako Si? – How are you?

Dobro Utro – Good Morning

Dobro Vecer - Goodnight


Macedonian Cuisine…

  • Food is a very important component of the Macedonian Culture.

- Stuffed Capsicums

- Cabbage Rolls

  • Fried chillies with tomato & cheese

- Rice pudding

- Apricot Cake

- Burek


Religion, Tradition

and Culture

  • There is a strong relationship between religion, tradition and culture in the Macedonian community.
  • The Macedonian Orthodox religion is based on the Julian Calendar. For this reason Christmas is celebrated on the 7th of January and New Year on the 14th of January.
  • Church plays an important role in the life of the majority of the Macedonian population.

Most Macedonians belong to the Orthodox faith.

  • Macedonians practice fasting at least four times a year.
  • The most significant date on the Orthodox calendar is Easter

Issues Confronting Macedonians in Australia…

  • Macedonian Women in Australia.
  • The Australian Government.
  • Barriers to Accessing Services.
  • Different Educational Systems.
  • Settlement Issues
  • Language Barriers
culture specific issues 65
Culture specific issues 65+
  • Lack of openness regarding the need to seek

assistance ‘outside’ the family

  • Reluctance to relinquish or admit to their inability to continue in what they see as their traditional role within the family unit.
  • Cases of social isolation
  • Limited English
  • Service system disorientation
  • Social stigma related to mental health issues
culture specific issues 65 cont
Culture Specific Issues 65+ (cont.)
  • Deliberate omission of health status and certain health conditions
  • Fear of representatives of the ‘authority’
  • Fear of disclosing too much personal information
  • Reluctance to sign papers / forms
  • Lack of understanding of the notion of privacy
  • Occasional lack of understanding of the necessity for professional interpreters / translators
health related issues
Health Related Issues
  • Respect towards health professionals in various aspects of life
  • Other methods of treatments may be sought if the patient does not believe he/she is getting better fast enough
  • Stoicism towards pain / suffering in silence
  • Family responsibility in relation to communicating about a terminal illness
  • Dementia is viewed negatively
key issues in adjusting in ageing
Key issues in Adjusting in Ageing
  • Strong preference for ethno-specific aged care services
  • Inability to access mainstream services
  • Poor English proficiency
  • Lack of understanding & awareness of Australia’s structure and systems
  • Expectation on family members to provide care
c ultural l y and linguistically appropriate s trategies
Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate strategies
  • Employing bi-lingual speaking staff members
  • Utilisation of aged-care specific language cards & organising short language classes for staff members
  • Organising cooking demonstrations
  • Utilisation of talking books offered by Vision Australia
other cultural l y and linguistically appropr i ate strategies
Other culturally and linguistically appropriatestrategies
  • Referring to ethno-specific organisations:

Macedonian Community Welfare Association - MCWA

Shop 19, 1 Princess Street, St Albans VIC 3021

T: 9310 7566




Blagodaram na vnimanieto

Thank you for your attention

More information:

Macedonian Community Welfare Association Inc.

Phone: 9310 7566