Aged Care for Elders
At the moment, the aged care system results in systemic, embedded discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders.

Aged care is one of the only areas where Closing the Gap targets have not been set. 

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to close the gap for First Nations Elders.

Australia often speaks of respect for Elders 'past, present and emerging'. This will only have real substance when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are empowered to plan and run ageing and aged care services, nationally. 

The community-controlled sector has shown how this approach can deliver transformative outcomes for First Nations people. 

A need for more Aboriginal aged care services

- On average 26% of eligible non-Indigenous people receive aged care, but only 16% of eligible Elders receive aged care
- The care needs of Elders are higher than the equivalent of non-Indigenous people, on average.
- Structural barriers are stopping Elders from accessing and receiving the care they need.

- It is estimated 43% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages receive healthcare from Indigenous-controlled providers
- Of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders receiving aged care, just 23% are supported by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led provider.
This shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples needing aged care have less ability to choose Indigenous-community-controlled care.


Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

The Royal Commission recommended the need for a cultural rebuild of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care.

The Royal Commission acknowledged Elders are the cultural knowledge holders, and the 'social glue' within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and communities.

The Royal Commission found that the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people eligible for aged care will increase rapidly, and is among the fastest growing cohorts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Royal Commission found long-term health conditions affect 88% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 55, and dementia is more prevalent than in non-Indigenous people. Because of these factors, the Royal Commission stated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders should receive proportionally higher levels of health and aged care.

The Royal Commission also found the aged care system, in its current form, does not ensure culturally safe care for Elders. Without changes, the system will not be able to provide adequate care at current demand levels, or meet the growth in demand that will accompany the ageing Elder population.

The Royal Commission made recommendations that are seeking to specifically make it easier for Elders to access quality, culturally safe aged care.

Click here to go to the Royal Commission website.

In residential care, only a minority access care from Aboriginal led services.

This means Aboriginal people either have to move from their own Country and community to access Aboriginal residential care, or access non-Indigenous led care.

Aboriginal people in cities are twice as likely to travel more than 25km for residential care than non-Aboriginal people.

Number of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people receiving aged care services (2018/19)
Indigenous Providers Non-Indigenous Providers Total
No. % No. %
TOTAL: 6,009 23.1 19,930 76.9 25,939