Hearing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders

Hamilton Stone directors Ian Holland and Lisa Fenn have been talking with Indigenous people, asking them about their aged care journeys and what their information needs might be. We encountered vibrant cultures and lively communities as well as significant disadvantage. We spoke with over 50 older Aboriginal people in places ranging from the urban to the very remote. They were Elders, grandmothers and grandfathers, and members of the Stolen Generation. Some were artists, stockmen, preachers, fisherwomen. We can't thank them enough for hosting us and taking time to advise us.

What did we hear? Aboriginal people are as diverse as any other group of Australians, so there is no single aged care journey and no single way they said that they get information. They often have sophisticated systems for gathering - and filtering - information. The people we spoke with placed a strong emphasis on their trusted networks and organisations to screen, adapt and disseminate information they need, tuning in to things that were relevant and tailored to them. Aboriginal organisations are pivotal in their communities. They often know who in their communities might benefit from services and thus have the ability to get information to Aboriginal people who need it.

Research published by the Department of Finance showed high use of both mainstream mass media and Indigenous media channels across the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Indigenous primt media and radio, as well as Aboriginal TV programs, were used by many people. Most of the respondents in that research however were not older Aboriginal people, who our work indicates are not accessing information through as many channels.

In the past, governments have sometimes provided inadequate information to Aboriginal people, for many reasons. We hope our work will contribute to changing that, and will complement the work of Finance, and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.