Cultural approaches towards ageing: trends in the Melbourne Jewish community

2017-10-10T05:41:42Z (GMT) by Frayman, Anita Jane
The historical time and place in which older people were born and through which they lived the formative stages of their lives influence their attitudes, expectations and experience of old age. This thesis studies older people in one ethno-religious community, the Victorian Jewish community. At the 2006 Census, over 80 per cent of older Jewish Victorians were born overseas. The study focuses on the three largest birthplace groups for older Jewish Victorians: Australia, Poland and the former Soviet Union. The main sources for this research project were the Australian Jewish community survey (Gen08) of nearly 6,000 respondents, funded by an Australian Research Council linkage grant, the 2006 Australian Census, focus groups, interviews and participant observation. A multidisciplinary theoretical approach was taken incorporating history, sociology and gerontology. Examining different cultural trends in the three different birthplace groups, the research found diversity in the way older Jewish people from different cultural backgrounds identified with and expressed their Jewishness as measured by the observance of religious rituals, subjective feelings of Jewishness and connectedness to the Jewish community. Differences were also found in the social capital of the three groups, in particular in their social and support networks. The study found that older Jews born in Australia had the strongest expressions of Jewish identity and the strongest social and support networks. This may be explained by their younger age, which means they are more able to be actively and socially involved with their friends, family and community than the older Jews, many of whom were post-war immigrants. Secondly, they may have greater social capital than the older FSU immigrants due to opportunities developed over their lives, lived in Melbourne. This approach to cultural diversity of older people within ethno-religious groups is valuable in policy development and planning for culturally sensitive aged care and support. When considering cultural diversity among older Australians, it is important to include region of birth as well as their ethno-religious identity as part of their cultural context.