The $105.7 million Government commitment, which will benefit more than 900 additional First Australians, is set to be expanded progressively over the next four years.
Federal Minister for Senior Australians, Aged Care and Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt announced the first round of expansion funding under the program - up to $46 million - to increase the number of home care places delivered through NATSIFAC program in remote and very remote areas.
“Aged care providers are invited to apply for funding under the expanded NATSIFAC program’s first grants round, which is designed to improve access to culturally-safe aged services in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” the Minister explains.
“The program funds service providers to provide flexible, culturally-appropriate aged care to older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people close to home and community.
“Service providers can deliver a mix of residential and home care services in accordance with the needs of the community.”
Minister Wyatt reiterates the importance of home care in enabling senior Australians to receive aged care to live independently in their own homes and familiar surroundings for as long as possible, and says the initiative is all about “flexibility and stability”.
“It is improving access to aged care for older people living in remote and very remote locations, and enables more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to receive culturally-safe aged care services close to family, home or country, rather than having to relocate hundreds of kilometres away,” he says.
“At the same time, it helps build the viability of remote aged care providers through funding certainty.”
Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (Congress) Chief Executive Officer, Donna Ah Chee, welcomes the announcement of increased funding to assist Aboriginal people ing growing old in a well-supported way, with their families in their own communities.
“Improvements in Aboriginal health have more of our people living into old age than there were even a decade ago and necessitates a need to meet the increasing demand for these types of services,” she says.
“Being on country as you grow old is a very strong cultural obligation for Aboriginal people and for too long our people have had to move into population centres to access services.
“We now have two major recent initiatives that will help our older people stay on country. Firstly, the announcement of the new Medicare item for nurse assisted dialysis on country and now this announcement from Minister Wyatt.
“This continuing connection to country is vital for the spiritual foundation and quality of life of Aboriginal people.
“It is a key part of keeping our older people healthy and happy.
“Our people have a very strong desire to be on country when they die and announcements like this will help to make sure that people grow old and die on country and with family. We know that social isolation is very damaging to older people’s health and this will ensure people remain socially and culturally connected.
“While keeping people at home with aged care packages is a key goal there are some very successful aged care facilities on country at places like Mutitjulu. This also is important for people who need this level of care.”
Applicants can apply for new or additional home care places under the NATSIFAC program or approved providers can apply to convert their existing Home Care Packages, administered under the Aged Care Act 1997, to home care places under the NATSIFAC program.
Applications close on 26 November 2018 with more details about the expansion round available online.