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.’