A new report is calling for an expansion of specialist targeted services for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and more work to embed cultural safety in mainstream care to improve the aged care system for Indigenous Australians.

The Australian Association of Gerontology report also recommends strategies to improve the ability of the aged care workforce to provide more appropriate care, an expansion of advocacy services and a more appropriate needs assessment process.

The report was developed by the AAG’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ageing Advisory Group (ATSIAAG) with findings from its national workshop in Perth in November 2017 that explored barriers to equity in access and outcomes in aged care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

A lack of service connectivity, the challenges vulnerable groups experience with consumer directed care and My Aged Care, high costs and gaps in policy, education and advocacy are among roadblocks to access and equity outlined in the report.

The report was launched by Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt at Parliament House on Wednesday.

“This report details valuable recommendations to improve aged care access for our First Peoples and I commend the Australian Association of Gerontology and its special Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ageing Advisory Group,” Minister Wyatt said.

“It highlights the importance of respect for culture, to instil confidence in older First Nations people, and I look forward to its findings helping guide the development of effective pathways to quality aged care.”

From left: Graham Aitken, Ken Wyatt, Ros Malay and James Beckford Saunders at the launch of a report focused on improving aged care access and quality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

ATSIAAG co-chair Graham Aitken said he was delighted Minister Wyatt gave the report the prominence it deserved.

“We are looking forward to seeing a response from government to the suggestions put forward in the report,” he said.

Fellow ATSIAAG co-chair Ros Malay said the report was timely given the work underway to develop an action plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people under the Aged Care Diversity Framework, which was launched in December.

“The report has some great ideas that could be picked up in the action plan,” Ms Malay said.

The report was launched during a ATSIAAG roundtable of key stakeholders from government agencies, academia, aged care, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations who discussed how better data would drive improved aged care for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

A greater uptake of evidence from research and data to ensure greater understanding of the aged care service and support needs of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and how they can best be met is another strategy proposed in the report.

Mr Wyatt said understanding how better data could build a better aged care system for the nation’s First Peoples was a priority for the Turnbull Government.

“Following last year’s Australian National Audit Office report into Indigenous aged care, we have taken steps to improve data,” he said.

AAG CEO James Beckford Saunders said a report from this week’s roundtable would be published within the next few months.

Access the report, Assuring equity of access and quality outcomes for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: What needs to be done, here.

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