Australian outback with red dirt, shrubs, blue sky and a mountain range in the distance.

Richard Tracey, Commissioner for the Aged Care Royal Commission, has backed the idea to develop local Indigenous support workers to help look after elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living on country in remote communities.

Remote Communities

While more than 80 per cent of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population live in urban areas, the aged care royal commission has recently reviewed the aged care in remote locations, of which a large percentage of the communities are made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities consider going to an aged care home a ‘death sentence’, instead wanting to live their later years on country.

This was reaffirmed in an Aged Care Royal Commission hearing in Broome (WA), where many Indigenous people expressed that they did not wish to receive care away from their communities and country. It is also considered part of the culture for families to look after elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as the elderly person once looked after them.

Madeleine Jadai

Madeleine Jadai cares for her 62 year old sister that has dementia and also for the children of her other sister that passed away in a vehicle accident. In the Aged Care Royal Commission hearing in Broome, she talked about how being a carer takes her full attention and time and the difficulty in attaining respite care.

The only time she receives respite is when her sister goes to the local community centre, otherwise being a carer takes away her ability to do the things that she wants to do. With the closest respite care centre being 190km away and being too full to take on her sister, she is calling for further respite care services in remote communities.

Image of small country town in desert location with blue sky and white clouds.

Elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are valuable members in their communities, being highly respected and playing a large role in cross generational transfer of culture and knowledge. However, as displayed in Madeleine Jadai’s story, there is a lack of support services in remote communities to give respite to carers.

This represents the need for an employment strategy for Indigenous support workers on country. An increase in the availability of aged care services in remote communities will benefit elderly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's ability to remain on country and their quality of life, as well as benefitting carers through an increase in respite support.

With the Aged Care Royal Commission looking into the aged care services in remote communities and Commissioner Richard Tracey’s backing, it will be interesting to see if there is a shift in the support services available in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities within the coming years.

If you need assistance finding services in your local area, our IDEAS Information Officers are available from 8am to 8pm weekdays to take your call and help place you into contact with the relevant services.


Information sourced from:

News.com.au
9 News
Canberra Times
Aged Care Royal Commission
The Sydney Morning Herald
The Conversation
Aged Care Guide
 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people please be advised that there may be images, videos or names of people on this website that are deceased, which may cause feelings of sorrow or sadness.