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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

New Indigenous aged care research informs policy suggestions

Date posted: 26 March 2012

Recently published research suggests that the aged care planning policy - used by the Department of Health and Ageing to provide Indigenous Australians with a fair share of resources - is based on a problematic assumption and has not worked as intended.

The existing policy uses Indigenous people aged over 50 as a target population for aged care funding, based on the idea that Indigenous people age prematurely. Two papers by the same research team from Charles Darwin University, the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University, cast doubt on this rationale.

'Indigenous people in their fifties are not old,' the researchers state. 'A decline into dependence at this age is not inevitable...the lower age criteria may [also] contribute to the stereotyping of this group as passive and irreversibly reliant on care.'

'Only some conditions associated with ageing appear to affect Indigenous people earlier than other Australians and the construct of ‘early ageing' based on this explanatory framework is uncertain,' the researchers conclude.

Philippa Cotter, the coordinator of the interdisciplinary research team, said that the studies suggested a new policy should avoid age as a simple criteria. Instead, a more complex approach should be used, but that more research would be needed to develop one.

Source: Australian Ageing Agenda


Philippa R Cotter
The Northern Institute
Casuarina Campus
Charles Darwin University
Darwin NT 0909


Last updated: 26 March 2012
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