Multicultural Centre For Women's Health


Hand in Hand

Supporting those who care for people living with life-limiting illnesses

Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand is a three-year initiative (2019-2021) that provides culturally appropriate support to migrant and refugee carers of those who are living with a life-limiting illness. 

Funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the project provides carers and the people they care with tailored support through support companions, and assists carers to access relevant services and resources during the course of caring. After their caring journey, Hand in Hand provides pathways for carers to re-enter the workforce and connect with people who have similar experiences. 

What is the issue?

Caring for family members and friends living with life-limiting illnesses can come with many challenges. Providing physical and psychosocial support can be time intensive, which can limit the ability of migrant and refugee carers to seek information about support services, let alone access them. Unable to attend peer support programs and socialise with others, migrant and refugee carers are often isolated and lonely. For many, the challenges are even more difficult due to language and cultural barriers, lack of familiarity with the system and social isolation.

How will the project make a difference?

Hand in Hand pairs carers with trained bilingual and bicultural workers (a support companion) who share the same language and cultural background. Bilingual and bicultural workers meet carers regularly to provide one-on-one ongoing support, often at a place that is convenient for them. They also:
  • Listen to and identify the carers' needs
  • Help carers understand and navigate the health system and support services 
  • Are available and contactable during the caring journey 
  • Provide carers with tailored and culturally appropriate information and resources 
  • Link or introduce carers to others who have been/are in a similar situation
  • Provide any other support the carer may need

Who is this free service for?

Bilingual and bicultural workers are available for anyone who is: 

  • Looking after their family or friends with a life-limiting illness, such as cancer or dementia 
  • From an immigrant or refugee background and living in Melbourne
  • Feeling overwhelmed/exhausted and having difficulties navigating the health and support system 
  • Confused about what to prepare when their family member or friend is dying 
  • Feeling isolated and simply wanting to talk to someone in their own language 

How do I get support?

If you are an individual, you can contact Project Officer Yue Gao at or 03 9418 0922.

If you work at an organisation and are referring someone, please fill in the Client Referral Form and send it to 

Project information in Arabic, Dari, Greek, Italian, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese

We have information about the Hand in Hand project in six languages: Arabic, Dari, Greek, Italian, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese.