Indigenous health workers needed, says SCU report
A NEW report into the health and aged care needs of older Aboriginal people on the Mid North Coast has identified a severe shortage of overnight respite and short-term emergency care.
It has also shown a need for Aboriginal health workers. The report, completed by Southern Cross University's Aged Services Learning and Research Centre on behalf of Yarrawarra Aged Care Ltd was released yesterday at the Moonee Elders' Centre.
The Director of ASLaRC, Professor Colleen Cartwright, said the scoping study looked at the health and care needs for older Aboriginal people, as well as ways of maximising the use of the Moonee Centre, which is located on the Pacific Highway north of Moonee.
The major gap identified in the study was the need for day, overnight and short-term emergency respite.
“There is a real need for an aged-care service centre, operated by an Aboriginal organisation, for older Aboriginal people living in the Gumbaynggirr nation,” Professor Cartwright said.
“Based on population estimates and planning ratios, there should be 132 Aboriginal-specific community care places.
“In our study area, which covers the area from south of Nambucca Heads, north to Maclean and west of Dorrigo, there are at present no Aboriginal-specific residential places.
“The report also identified the importance of having Aboriginal health workers to provide some of the care and support.”
She said currently older Aboriginal people were reluctant to access residential care, but if they became familiar with the centre and the workers they would feel more comfortable about going into respite.
Professor Cartwright said the Moonee site, previously a motel, was centrally sited within the Gumbaynggirr nation and would be suitable for the staged development of aged-care services.
“What is needed is the development of aged-care services covering social, care and health needs and capable of being extended over time to include residential respite,” she said.
Tony Perkins, the Chair of Yarrawarra Aged Care Ltd, said the study, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, provided a comprehensive report on all the services required.
“We are now in a position to present our urgent needs in caring for Aboriginal elders, which in turn will contribute to a healthier lifestyle,” Mr Perkins said.
“Based on the findings of this study, we feel confident that we will receive the necessary government support to upgrade the Moonee Elders' Centre premises and initiate these recommendations.”