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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Royal commission final report recommends specialised aged care for stolen generations survivors

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The Healing Foundation has welcomed the recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission Final Report that recognise the specialised aged care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including urgent trauma-aware and healing-informed services and care.

The final report notes that ‘… trauma-informed approaches are particularly important to the care of [survivors] of the Stolen Generations. By 2023, all Stolen Generations survivors will be aged over 50 years and potentially eligible for aged care services. Their childhood experiences further compromise their ability to seek services and should dictate and inform how such services should be provided’.

The recommendation for a new Aged Care Act acknowledges that ‘…Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are entitled to receive support and care that is culturally safe and recognises the importance of their personal connection to community and country’.

The Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said the royal commission has responded strongly to the broader aged care crisis in Australia and reinstated that cultural safety must be at the centre of the aged care pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“The Healing Foundation strongly supports key recommendations in the Final Report, most notably the appointment of a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner; training in cultural safety and trauma-aware healing-informed approaches for the aged care workforce; free access to interpreters; local services to maintain connection with country and community; and flexible funding to provide care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples where they live,” she said.

Between 1910 and the 1970s, approximately one in ten Aboriginal children were stolen from their families, communities, and cultures and placed in institutions or adopted by non-Indigenous families.

On top of the grief and suffering caused by their removal, stolen children were often subjected to harsh and degrading treatment including abuse, exploitation, and racism. Many were also denied education.

As a result, many Stolen Generations survivors live with lifelong physical, mental, and economic disadvantage.

“Stolen Generations survivors are significantly more likely to depend on government payments, not own their own home, and to live alone compared to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of the same age,” Petersen said.

“On top of this, Stolen Generations survivors are worried about the future for their families.

“Addressing these needs requires effort at all levels to co-design policies and programs that are trauma-aware and healing-informed, and that enable Stolen Generations survivors to live with dignity and respect, with the knowledge that their families will thrive into the future.

“Stolen Generations survivors are more likely than other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of similar ages to feel discriminated against, and to have problems accessing services.

“They are often suspicious and fearful of government and frequently experience mainstream services as racist and exclusionary.

“With the entire Stolen Generations population eligible for aged care by 2022-23, it is essential that they are offered more holistic social and cultural support in order to access the services they need.

“It is pleasing that the Royal Commission Final Report has acknowledged and responded to the complex and tragic circumstances and needs of Stolen Generations survivors, and provided the Government with targeted, practical and compassionate recommendations.

“The Healing Foundation stands ready to work with the Federal Government and the aged care sector to put in place a culturally safe pathway to trauma-aware and healing-informed aged care for our ageing and ailing Stolen Generations survivors,” Petersen said.

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