Good Practice Stories

Programs that promote a rich cultural exchange at Northern Gardens



We caught up with Rebeca Gago Portero, Lifestyle Team Leader, Northern Gardens and Jacinta Jarutis, Group Lifestyle Coordinator, Medical & Aged Care Group.

rebeca gago portero circle jacinta jarutis circle
Rebeca Jacinta


We asked them about their approach to diversity and inclusion at their Northern Gardens Aged Care facility in Coburg North, Melbourne.

Jacinta: Diversity and inclusion form part of our brand values for the whole organisation. Our homes are focused on cultural diversity and respect for residents and staff. We have diverse cultural backgrounds for our staff and residents and we want them to feel that these backgrounds are valued and respected.

At Northern Gardens most residents are from an Italian background but we have a lot of other cultures represented as well. Northern Gardens has a number of programs that focus on a rich cultural exchange between staff and residents.

Our residents also engage with the surrounding community, particularly children.

The Bravissimi Italian School

Rebeca: The children who attend the school have an Italian background and are bilingual. We made contact with them just when COVID started. We wanted to connect residents with the children through video calls and video messages in Italian.

On Mother’s Day the children sent cards in Italian. It was very emotional. They sent Christmas videos, performances and cards as well.


Mothers Day Card Italian


The Italian Lessons

Rebeca: We do Italian lessons at Northern Gardens every Friday.
The residents teach the staff and other residents. They love explaining and sharing their language.

It’s just great.

The Gardening Lessons

When I’m in my neighbourhood and pass by the house of someone from a Greek or Italian background and see their beautiful garden, I can imagine how our residents used to have gardens as well.

We’re trying to keep that beautiful garden at Northern Gardens.

The residents share their tips. They’ve taught me how to take care of my garden, how to grow tomatoes. How to use figs in cooking.


 northern gardens figs


The Cooking Lessons

Rebeca: We do small cooking groups – pizza, bread rolls, pasta making, Pomodoro and tomato sauce. Yeah, the residents just love it. And the staff learn a lot.


 northern gardens cooking


Thank you Rebeca and Jacinta for sharing the amazing work you’re doing.

Photos supplied by Northern Gardens


To check out Rebeca and Jacinta’s presentation at our Cultural Diversity in Ageing Conference 2021 click here