There is a lack of adequate service provision for older Aboriginal people in regional South Australia, says Aboriginal Community Services CEO Graham Aitken.
Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda before appearing as a panellist at the ACSA National Summit next month, Mr Aitken said: “The reality is there’s significant unmet need out there across South Australia.”
This has caused Aboriginal people to leave Country and community behind in search of sufficient care services. “They’re not being forced off their communities, but just by weight of numbers it clearly shows the movement of Aboriginal people from regional and remote communities and centres into Adelaide,” said Mr Aitken.
This has been a population trend for many years and the reason why Aboriginal Community Services has been expanding into regional and remote locations, Mr Aitken told AAA. But clearly, “We need more funding for our aged care services so [Aboriginal people] can stay in their communities,” he said.
Mr Aitken – a Yankunytjatjara man – has worked in the aged care sector for almost 20 years including for the South Australian Government where he was responsible for the funding and administration of home and community care services for Aboriginal Elders in the state.
He has been involved with Aboriginal Community Services for 12 years. The community-controlled organisation was established in Adelaide in 1995.
“At that time there were no dedicated services for Aboriginal people in terms of aged care,” said Mr Aitken. A 33-bed aged care residential facility, the Aboriginal Elders Village, was also established – and is still operating.
To enable Aboriginal people to remain in their communities, Mr Aitken would like to see service providers encouraged to work in regional and remote areas of South Australia. But many of the smaller agencies are dissuaded by the strict compliance regulations in place, he said.
“If you’re delivering community service like basic aged care and support – things like meals, transport, information and those types of things – you shouldn’t have to jump through a whole range of compliance,” said Mr Aitken. “Compliance measures need to be proportionate to the types of services you’re delivering.”
The ACSA National Summit is being held in Canberra 3-5 May