Older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are being let down by the aged care system. They are significantly underrepresented in residential aged care services, at under one per cent, and their uptake of dementia services is very poor. Yet older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience at least 2.3 times the burden of disease as other Australians and are also 3-5 times more likely to experience dementia.i It is a sad indictment of the system that the care needs of our ageing First Peoples are not being met.
The needs of older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples require urgent attention by the Australian Government and the health and aged care systems. As the Commissioners will be aware, the population of First Peoples aged 65 and over is projected to grow by 200 per cent between 2011 -2031.ii This unprecedented population growth combined with the complex health issues that our people experience as they age presents major challenges for providers of both aged care and primary health care to respond to increased service needs from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders. We believe it is imperative that the Australian Government commits to resourcing more innovative, efficient and effective solutions that address the barriers to accessing aged care solutions for older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.