Who We Are







“To be a leading provider of culturally appropriate services for the Spanish speaking community and others”.


"Healthy, resilient Spanish speaking people and families, advocating for an inclusive multicultural community”.

Historical Background

United, originally founded in 1977 as the Spanish Latin American Welfare Centre Inc and known by the initials of its name in Spanish: Centro Español Latino Americano de Asistencia Social – CELAS has served the Spanish and Latin American communities for more than 40 years. For two generations the agency has provided a wide variety of programs and services in response to the changing needs of the more than 20 Spanish-speaking communities who live in Victoria. The vast majority of Victorians of Spanish-speaking backgrounds arrived in Australia between the early 1960s and the early 1980s. As the Spanish-speaking communities aged, the agency responded with a number of Aged Care services and other support services over the years. In the past decades, the aging of the community has concentrated United’s services in the area of Aged Care Support. However other community support and educational programs are also offered, which means that United is in a position to continue to support, not only the older community members, but also the younger migrants from Latin America and Spain, who have arrived in the past decade.



Community Statistics

Census Statistics demonstrate the ageing of the Spanish and Latin American communities. Whilst the 2016 Census identifies the Median Age in Victoria as 37 years old, Spanish-speakers who arrived, for the most part, during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, are much older.  According to the 2016 Census, Victoria’s five of the oldest Spanish-speaking communities are constituted by:


2016 Census - Median Age
Uruguay-born 57 years old
Spain-born 53 years old
Chile-born 50 years old
Argentina 49 years old
El Salvador 46 years old



Community Needs


A Community-based Research Study on The Aged Care Needs of Spanish-speaking Older Victorians, conducted between 2017 and 2018, based on Qualitative and Quantitative Methodology and requested by United, conducted 103 interviews, across Melbourne’s West, South/East and North/East. The interviewees included individual interviews of Spanish-speaking residents of Residential Facilities and their families and friends; members of Social Activity Groups (SAGs); Home and Residential Support Staff and SAGs Coordination and Programs Support Staff; Health and Medical Professionals; Religious Representatives, Community Visiting Volunteers and Consular Representatives. The researcher also travelled to Sydney to interview Spanish-speaking residents and staff of Residential Gardens, Australia’s only Spanish-speaking Residential Facility as a comparative element of the research.

The research has revealed that older Spanish-speaking Victorians experience many disadvantages due to:

  • Lack of comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of MyAgedCare;
  • Under Utilization of aged care support services;
  • Low Levels of English language fluency of a significant number of Spanish-speaking Victorians over the age of 65 years old;
  • Loss of ability to speak English when affected by health conditions such as Dementia, Alzhemer’s stroke etc.
  • Experience of social isolation and depression when living alone;
  • High levels of social isolation when residing in a mainstream and/or in a multicultural facility
  • An urgent and growing need for a dedicated Spanish-speaking Aged Care Residential Facility

Among major recommendations which the full research report will include are the Following:

  • That Spanish-speaking Community Agencies apply for Capital Funding from the Federal Government, under the Aged care Rounds – Special Needs – Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds” for the Construction of a Residential Aged Care Building/Facility to cater for the currently urgent and future needs of Spanish-speaking Older Victorians;
  • The need for community support agencies to embark on an urgent and comprehensive Information and Awareness Campaign to inform and educate Spanish-speaking Older Victorian and their families about the Aged Care Support Services available with an emphasis on Social Activity Groups (SAGs), Home Support Services and Residential Support Care;
  • That the above Campaigns be conducted in Spanish;


The Census Statistics has also shown the growing need of support of the Spanish-speaking Victorian community.
The Census asks the following question: “Core Activity Need for Assistance”. This question aims to measure the number of people with a “profound disability and includes temporary illness, various types of disability and old age”.

When comparing the Core Activity Need for Assistance of the previously mentioned Victoria’s five of the oldest Spanish-speaking communities, for the 2011 and the 2016 Census, there is absolute proof of the growing need of assistance by the communities:


2011 and 2016 Census – Core Activity Need for Assistance


Growth Census 2011 Census 2016 Growth
Uruguay-born 134 196 12.2% 
Spain-born 333 382 10.8%
Chile-born 412 516 7.0%
Argentina 170 222 5.5%
El Salvador 182 238 7.5%


Total of the above mentioned Spanish-speaking Victorians who answered the Census question “Core Activity Need for Assistance” on the affirmative:

2011 Census 2016 Census
1,231  1,554*

*These total does not include the smaller, and mostly younger Spanish-speaking communities some of whom are relatively recent arrivals to Australia. The following examples serve to prove this demographic reality:

   Census 2011 Census 2016 Growth
Colombia-born 29 49 1.0%
Mexico-born: 10 24 1.1%
Venezuela-born  3 11 0.4%





For the Spanish-speaking communities, and for the elders in these communities, the continuation of United is vital. United is the only Spanish-language agency in existence in Victoria and the only one that has the experience to continue to offer language and culture specific services to the various Spanish-speaking Victorian communities and to continue to develop new programs and services as identified by community knowledge accumulated in more than four decades, as well as by community research.




The current Board is implementing changes in the way the agency is governed and administered.
From the beginning of 2019 forward, United’s Board will include new members (currently in the process of being finalized). The way the Board will operate will include an Executive Committee which will enable greater control over decisions with regards to the direction of the agency in terms of Programs and Services and Financing, and will put into practice a more “hands on” approach to the governance of United.  




The Board is developing a Five Year Strategic Direction Plan for the agency (see attached), based on the current and projected needs of the community, but will also include ways to respond to any unexpected community circumstance.


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