Honoured for service to Indigenous aged care

Marjorie Tripp, a Ngarrindjeri elder from South Australia who has spent decades working for aged care equality for Aboriginal Australians, says she hopes the progress made in service provision continues over the coming decades.

 

Marjorie Tripp
Marjorie Tripp

Marjorie Tripp, a Ngarrindjeri elder from South Australia who has spent decades working for aged care equality for Aboriginal Australians, says she hopes the progress made in service provision continues over the coming decades.

Her services to the Indigenous community, through improving aged care and health outcomes and having Indigenous Australians in the armed forces recognised, has led to Ms Tripp being made an Officer in the Order of Australia in the 2014 Queen’s birthday honours.

Ms Tripp has worked in state and national Aboriginal Affairs for over 40 years in administration and initiatives concerning Aboriginal aged care.

“I had a vision and I tried to explain to my workers you must have some vision about what you want to happen in 20 years’ time. For some of them it was very hard to see that far, but I did,” Ms Tripp told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Asked whether she had a vision for 20 years from now, Ms Tripp said: “I just hope that the services we have got now increase and are providing for those people that I have been working hard to get things for.”

Ms Tripp was involved in establishing the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Home and Community Care and the Torres Strait Islander Reference Group in 1992. Former posts include senior project officer at the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health in the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care’s SA division, and team leader of Aboriginal Aged Care at the Office for the Ageing, Department for Families and Communities, SA.

Equality has always been the biggest issue for her, she said, and her drive came from her grandmother who was always fighting for equal rights when she was a younger woman, and Gladys Elphick, who was honoured with a similar award in 1971 her for services to the Aboriginal community.

It was the lack of services and aged care facilities for older Aboriginal people that had her striving for change while working for the Commonwealth Department for Ageing, she said.

Ms Tripp continued:

“I used to also think about it when I would see all these buses of old white women and men on it going for a trip somewhere and I would think how come I don’t see old black fellas going anywhere. So that started me off, looking at, making sure we had the same things.”

While equality still has not been achieved, Ms Tripp said that progress had been made, with services and initiatives helping to provide proper care for older Aboriginal people.

As examples, she cited the Aboriginal Wyatt holidays for care recipients and their carers, the aged care groups in different regions, and the Council of Aboriginal Elders to advise government.

“We have a voice now. They have got someone they can contact and talk to and we have all our aged care groups around the country,” she said.

Ms Tripp, who has been a member of the Australian Association of Gerontology since the 1980s, also has a strong interest in ageing-related research.

She said the AAG has been important in securing aged services for Aboriginal people from a younger age and in the development of the National Indigenous HACC program, which in addition to providing services has developed resources specifically for Aboriginal people, such as the carers, dementia, and continence management kits.

Notwithstanding her dedication to improve aged care for Indigenous Australians, Ms Tripp, who is believed to be the first Indigenous member of the Women’s Royal Australian Navy, said she has been most passionate about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial, which was unveiled in Adelaide last year.

Board and Staff head shots
Richard Gray

Elsewhere in the Queen’s birthday honours, Catholic Health Australia (CHA) senior aged care advisor Richard Gray was made a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the community through policy direction and reform in the not-for-profit aged care and disability service sectors.

Mr Gray, who was director of aged care services at CHA from 1996 to 2013, was also inaugural CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia, which was then known as Aged Care Australia.

Congratulating Mr Gray, Catholic Health Australia Stewardship Board chair Rowena McNally said few people in aged care advocacy could boast a résumé that would rival Richard’s.

“We in the Catholic health and aged care family are very grateful for the contribution Richard continues to make on behalf of our members, but his influence and his efforts have been more far-reaching than just the Catholic sector.”

Other recipients for their service to aged care and aged welfare

Member (AM) in the General Division

Dr Prem Phakey, Glen Waverley, Victoria, for significant service to the Indian community of Victoria, to aged welfare, and to education.

Professor Derek Melville Prinsley, Kew Victoria, for significant service to medicine as a practitioner and researcher in the field of geriatric care.

Douglas John Thompson, Pymble, NSW, for significant service to the community in the field of aged care.

Medal (OAM) in the General Division

Irene Wanda Biedak, Brisbane, for service to the Polish community in the field of aged care.

David James Cummins, Bowral, NSW, for service to the community of the Wingecarribee Shire, particularly through aged welfare

Pamela Dalrymple, Stafford, Queensland, for service to the community, particularly through aged welfare.

Finley Ivan MacKay, Tweed Heads, NSW, for service to the community of Tweed Heads, particularly through aged welfare organisations.

Peter Robert McKay, Tea Gardens, NSW, for service to the community, particularly to aged persons.

Annamaria Elizabeth Marks, Darling Point, NSW, for service to the community, particularly to aged care organisations.

Phillip Charles Passmore, Port Macquarie, NSW, for service to the community of Port Macquarie through aged care and service groups.

Ronald Henry Piper, Cranbrook, Queensland, for service to the community of Townsville through aged care, musical, seniors and service groups.

Frank Raymond Tisher, Melbourne, Victoria, for service to aged care, cultural and sporting organisations.

Public Service Medal

Stephen Alfred Alexander, Seacombe Gardens, South Australia, for outstanding public service in the disability and aged care sector.

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