12/03/2019

MDAS leading the way on better services for elders


Australia's first guide to planning improved aged care outcomes has Mallee input


Mallee District Aboriginal Services is at the forefront of Australia’s first comprehensive guide to plan to improve aged care outcomes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders in future.
There are more than 100,000 senior First Australians, and it’s estimated the number of elders aged 65 and over will grow by 200 percent by 2031. 
The Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt recently launched the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Action Plan, which is the first guide to help families and aged care recipients, as well as providers, to meet the needs of First Australians in both residential and home care situations.
MDAS Director of Health Services Danielle Dougherty represented Victorian and Loddon Mallee Aboriginal communities on the ATSI Diversity Framework Working Group, which has worked on the plan since November 2017.  Ms Dougherty now sits on the National Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care which has responsibility for rolling out the Aged Care Action Plan.
The plan is one of a series of action plans to address barriers faced by older people from minority groups in accessing aged care and support.
Ms Dougherty said the plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities sets out steps to help meet the needs elders in both home and residential care.
“We have an ageing population across the board, but our goal is to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders are not disadvantaged when it comes to informed choice, planning, accessibility, flexibility, respect and inclusion and meeting the needs of the most vulnerable,” Ms Dougherty said.
“There are some huge and specific challenges around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders accessing and receiving culturally-appropriate care within their local communities, including here in the Mallee,” she said. 
“For example, as people who are of the Stolen Generations age, they face the prospect of having to return to institutional care. Institutional care, which is how many of them grew up – it represents trauma and there’s a prospect of that being triggered in formal aged care,” she said.
Indigenous Australians are able to access aged care from the age of 50 because of their complex health needs and are also eligible for the The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program, which is designed to provide culturally appropriate care close to home.
Ms Dougherty said the challenge for organisations and communities, including MDAS, was to look at alternatives and solutions for aged-care that are community-based.

Pictured: MDAS Director of Health Services Danielle Dougherty, VACCHO (Victorian Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations) Noeleen Tunny, Minister Ken Wyatt, Julie Hawke from Batchelor Institute and Helen Kennedy (VACCHO)
MALLEE DISTRICT ABORIGINAL SERVICES  “Our Vision: Generations of vibrant, healthy and strong Aboriginal communities”
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