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Home News and media centre News Respecting the cultural needs of Elders

Respecting the cultural needs of Elders

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders often find it hard to access the same level of support as other Australians.

‘There may be barriers like a language barrier, or a cultural barrier,’ says Elsja Dewis, one of 10 specialist advocates across the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN).

‘They may fear if they go to a service, they won’t be understood.’

Trauma-informed, culturally aware aged care services can allay these concerns.

‘Some of our Elders have come from that Stolen Generation,’ says Ms Dewis. ‘I go out and visit them and they’re in an institution – a caring facility.

‘Some of them don’t want to be there because their experience has been in an institution, they don’t want to die in an institution.’

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist advocates can step in and have a conversation with Elders about how they envision their lives – and death – as they age. 

When they enter aged care, Elders should feel confidence that their culture, language and protocols will be respected.

‘For example, it might be around the passing of a family member. The want to go home, but they can’t manage it physically because they don’t have the support for someone to go out there with them to Country.

‘As advocates, it’s about finding the appropriate services that can cater for those needs, and respect those cultural differences.’

Advocacy support

Watch OPAN’s webinar The Ageing Mosaic – First Nations Communities to learn more about how aged care advocacy can support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders in aged care.

If you need individual advocacy support, call an OPAN advocate on 1800 700 600.

If you need an interpreter, you can ask us to arrange one when you call, or contact one of the services below and ask them to help contact us.

  • Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) – 132 450
  • Aboriginal Interpreter Service (AIS) – 1800 334 944
  • Kimberley Interpreting Service (KIS) – 08 9192 3981

If you are deaf and/or find it hard hearing or speaking with people who use a phone, you can contact us via the National Relay Service.

  • Voice Relay number – 1300 555 727
  • TTY number – 133 677
  • SMS relay number – 0423 677 767