Rudd Government: Improving Indigenous Aged Care
The Minister for Ageing, Mrs Justine Elliot has detailed the next stage of the Australian Government’s $46 million Indigenous Aged Care Plan.
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11 November 2008
The Minister for Ageing, Mrs Justine Elliot today detailed the next stage of the Australian Government’s $46 million Indigenous Aged Care Plan – which includes the first overnight aged care service at Mutitjulu near Uluru and a general works and equipment program to lift standards.
There are 30 nursing homes and hostels with significant Indigenous populations and 29 Aboriginal flexible aged care services in Australia.
On October 9, Mrs Elliot visited a flexible aged care service at Katherine and a respite aged care service at Mutitjulu – where female community elders expressed their concerns about a lack of an overnight aged care service.
(The Department of Health and Ageing has identified that East Arnhem and Alice Springs, which takes in Mutitjulu – as the highest priority areas in the NT.)
“This is about taking practical and commonsense measures to improve the care and welfare of older indigenous Australians,” Mrs Elliot said.
“We will work with Indigenous communities to improve their facilities and care. I have seen very remote indigenous aged care services first hand – and they need to be improved.
“It is also about finding a delicate balance between cultural sensitivity and ensuring the health and welfare of older and frail Indigenous people.
“Older Aboriginal people want to remain in their communities and are important leaders and role models. We will consult and take the advice of Aboriginal communities and the Aboriginal aged care sector,” Mrs Elliot said.
As part of the next stage of the Indigenous Aged Care Plan, the Australian Government has made the following plans, subject to appropriate community consultation:
- in-principle approval to create eight flexible care beds in Mutitjulu’s first permanent overnight aged care service;
- a $1 million grant to Frontier Services to build overnight staff accommodation at Mutitjulu to retain staff;
- a $800,000 grant to MacDonnell Shire Council to provide overnight staff accommodation at Tjilpi Pampaku Ngara (Docker River) Flexible Aged Care service to retain staff at this remote aged care service;
- in-principle approval to create a 10 place flexible residential aged care service in East Arnhem Land - following representations at Community Cabinet on July 23; and
- a $200,000 grant to assist the Aboriginal Community Elders Service in East Brunswick (Melbourne), which provides 25 residential aged care places and 69 community care places, to help them to assess their capacity to come under the operation of the Aged Care Act 1997 and the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency.
- Working on the new quality standards for flexible Indigenous-specific aged care services which are due to be in place by mid-2009;
- A general building and equipment works program with works being undertaken by teams of tradespeople to the Indigenous-specific aged care services in early 2009;
- Helping 11 of the 29 Aboriginal flexible aged care services to improve their protection around open pit fires used by elders – under a $500,000 plan (Interim fire place protection devices from the Centre for Appropriate Technology in Alice Springs have been delivered to the Docker River aged care service and have been installed);
- Completion of the national quality and risk site visits by the Department of Health and Ageing to all 29 flexible Indigenous-specific aged care services to identify problems to be fixed;
- Establishing the NT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Aged Care Workforce Development Initiative, focussing on developing an Aboriginal community aged care workforce in the NT under the NT Emergency Response. It is in the process of:
- Converting Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) positions to paid employment in Home and Community Care (HACC) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Services;
- Identifying and developing culturally appropriate training resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community aged care workers; and
- Delivering training programs to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community aged care workers with work-specific skills and certification where appropriate;
- Setting up the Indigenous Aged Care Taskforce within the Department of Health and Ageing to oversee the $46 million Indigenous Aged Care Plan;
- Beginning negotiations with the Australian Securities Investment Commission to facilitate the transfer of the Georgina Margaret Thompson Davidson Hostel in Brisbane to Winnam Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Corporation;
- Providing more than $198,000 to Continence Foundation of Australia to train health professionals in very remote communities with significant indigenous populations on continence promotion and how to assist those suffering from severe incontinence;
- Responding to the independent assessment by the Aged Care Commissioner, Ms Rhonda Parker of the handling of the Tjilpi Pampaku Ngara (Docker River) Flexible Aged Care service – which is due to be provided later this month; and
- Agreement at the Ministerial Conference on Ageing which met last week in Melbourne to improve indigenous aged care and have it as a formal agenda item at the next meeting in Darwin of Federal, State and Territory ministers responsible for ageing.
For more information, contact Mrs Elliot's office on (02) 6277 7280.
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