Respecting the knowledges of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) through collaboration was pushed in the recent Closing The Gap Review, and Aboriginal Community Services (ACS) aims to reflect this through our daily operations. In our research project with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) into the wellbeing of First Nations Elders receiving a Home Care Package, it was found that integrated pathways across aged care, health and social service delivery would be of benefit (Pearson, et al 2023). This is particularly important when we consider the legislated responsibilities aged care providers have regarding the clinical wellbeing of consumers. This year we are teaming up with Moorundi Health Service in Murray Bridge to enhance our service to the local community. 

The collaboration began when the team at Moorundi noticed a number of Elders living in and around Murray Bridge who were entitled to – and required – Aged Care services but were not receiving them. Entitlements and information are not always accessible to those living regionally, especially for older generations when accessing online resources can be difficult, with jargon only making things worse.

ACS now have a staff member working out of the Moorundi Health office who helps clients transfer onto the Home Care Package with ACS. Its of great benefit to us and local Elders that we are now connected to Moorundi’s large local network. Where previously ACS had only contractors working locally in Murray Bridge, or Coordinators and Outreach team an hour and a half drive away, having a staff member there makes reaching us easier for Elders who prefer to speak in person.

This isn’t our only example of knowledge sharing between ACCOs and ACCHOs (Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations). Nganampa Health Council also assists us in ensuring our Elders are receiving appropriate clinical care in the APY Lands. They also help us monitor whether an Elder may need to move up into a higher level of care.

Within the Aboriginal Health and Aged Care industries, there is some incredibly meaningful work being done on the ground by ACCOs. Currently in collaboration with Waardliparinga Aboriginal Health Equity at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute we are developing world-first aged care training specifically for providing care to First Nations people. The knowledges of ACCOs and Elders themselves are unmatched by government officials. This was evident in both the Closing The Gap Review, and the Royal Commission into Aged Care in 2019. ACS continues to lead the way as a First Nations aged care provider and hopes that legislators will soon recognise the expertise of organisations like ourselves and Moorundi Health Services in effective service delivery, and community support, to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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