Consumers of Aboriginal Community Services can access a range of different aged care funding packages depending on what they are eligible for. This will be decided by My Aged Care Assessors, and with the support of ACS aged care advisors through the process. For those who have recently decided to get assessed and take the steps towards receiving care, the jargon can be confusing. ACS wants to make this experience as easy as possible, so we thought we’d provide a breakdown of the current programs.
We also wish to highlight, in an advocacy capacity, that these programs are not perfect, and ACS believes that the department has a long way to go in ensuring that policy, and funding, appropriately supports the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders in their unique contexts. We think it’s important to share what options are available to Elders, and how ACS is pushing them to be improved.
Firstly, please note for those that are just about to begin their journey receiving care, that while government subsidies cover most of the costs, clients may be asked by the government to contribute towards the costs of services if they have the means to. First Nations Elders can receive the government’s My Aged Care services (listed below) from the age of 50 onwards.
Commonwealth Home Support Programme
The Commonwealth Home Support Programme, or CHSP, provides entry level care into Australia’s aged care system. It’s designed to provide relatively small amounts of a single or a few services to support Elders in maintaining independent community living and wellbeing. Aboriginal Community Services can offer you a range of services including allied and therapy services, domestic assistance, home maintenance, personal care, social support, transport and meals.
Home Care Packages
There are four levels under the Home Care Package depending on Elders’ eligibility. Level one covers basic care needs, level two covers low care needs, level three covers intermediate care needs, level four covers high care needs. Services include mobility and dexterity, continence management, nursing, allied health, and other clinical services, nutrition, hydration, meal preparation, diet, transport and personal assistance, personal care, management of skin integrity, garden maintenance/lawn mowing, and domestic assistance.
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care (NATSIFAC) program allows providers to deliver a mix of aged care services that meet community needs. The program is designed to provide relatively small amounts of a single or few services to support Elders in maintaining independent community living and wellbeing. It allows ACS to offer specialised support for cultural needs which could include having buildings suited to cultural activities and ceremonies, supporting Elders with sorry business or men’s and women’s business. Services could include support with meals, social support, personal care, linen services, allied health and therapy services, and transport. Our residential care facilities are also funded through the NATSIFAC program.
From July 1st, 2025: Support at Home Program
New aged care reforms are set to be delivered in two stages, with the new Support at Home replacing Home Care Packages and the Short Term Restorative Care Programme from July 1st 2025. In 2027, no earlier than July 1st, the Commonwealth Home Support Programme will transition to the new Support at Home program as well. The new program aims to give greater choice, flexibility and transparency, greater clarity of services, individualised support plans, a single assessment process, an integrated assessment tool, better matching of services, and easier access to assistive technologies. As work continues on these changes, ACS will endeavor to keep Elders informed.
ACS and improving First Nations Aged Care
ACS is helping to facilitate a range of initiatives to improve aged care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders not just within our organisation, but on a national scale. ACS CEO Graham Aitken sits on the board of directors for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care and Ageing Council. The council is the peak body for all organisations and businesses who provide aged care to First Nations Elders, and makes recommendations to the Department of Health and Ageing. They watch reforms closely and look for ways to ensure that the unique contexts and needs of First Nations Elders are able to be met under policies and guidelines. Currently much of the policy takes ‘one size fits all’ approach, and this is what ACS hopes to rebuff by highlighting the unique context of First Nations Elders, particularly those living remotely.
ACS is also working with our long-time friends over at SAHMRI to create specific training for Aged Care staff working with First Nations Elders. There is currently no training as specific as the modules that are currently being developed by our Social Research and Community Development Officer Tameeka Leremia and the Wardliparingga team from SAHMRI. Having this training available across Australia will mean that at a ground level, staff are culturally aware, prepared for the unique context of First Nations aged care, and are able to effectively communicate with Elders.
If you are looking to get started on your journey receiving aged care, please call our head office on 08 8346 9155