Interim First Nations Aged Care Commissioner revealed
Published on 13 December 2023 (Last updated on 14 December 2023)
First Nations leader Andrea Kelly has been announced as the interim First Nations Aged Care Commissioner, an all-important step in the process toward establishing the design and functions of a permanent Commissioner role.
- The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommended an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care Commissioner should be appointed to promote and develop culturally safe, tailored and flexible aged care services for First Nations people
- The Federal Government committed $1.6 million to the establishment of a Commissioner in the May Budget
- Ms Kelly, a Warumungu and Larrakia woman, has worked in the public service sector for over 30 years and has held the roles of Group Manager, Eastern Group in the National Indigenous Australians Agency and Deputy CEO at Reconciliation Australia
Initially, Recommendation 49 of the Royal Commission called for the permanent appointment of a permanent First Nations Aged Care Commissioner by 2021, however, little movement occurred under the previous Liberal Government.
But by allocating $1.6 million to establish an interim Commissioner for 12 months, the incumbent Labor Government has finally ensured the recommendation is implemented.
As interim Commissioner, Ms Kelly will lead the consultation process with First Nations communities and stakeholders on the design and functions of a permanent Commissioner role, including where it is located. In addition, she will contribute to the changes required to improve aged care for First Nations people while advocating for and promoting culturally safe aged care services.
Ms Kelly expressed her gratitude for the appointment as she reinforced her commitment to the role and the First Nations community. With experience in designing social policies for First Nations people and leading the establishment of the Territories Stolen Generations Redress Scheme, she brings a wealth of knowledge.
“I am delighted to accept the role of Interim Commissioner and for the opportunity to advocate for and work directly with First Nations people regarding their aged care needs. The creation of this role, and that of the permanent First Nations commissioner for aged care will enable the voices of First Nations people to be heard and acted on,” Ms Kelly said.
“It is an honour to serve First Nations Elders, their families, friends and community to make sure they can access culturally safe, high quality aged care when and where they need it.”
In addition to establishing a First Nations Aged Care Commissioner, the Government has committed to increasing the number of First Nations workers within the aged care workforce and providing scholarships for First Nations nursing, allied health and personal care students.
Better access to translation and interpreting services and translated information is also being funded as is the expansion of health and disability services into aged care.
Altogether, the reforms represent a positive step forward for improving aged care services and support for First Nations people. Ms Kelly’s appointment was also welcomed by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ageing and Aged Care Council (NATSIAACC).
“The interim Commissioner role is incredibly important. Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders are the glue within many of our communities, and they have laid the groundwork for much of the progress being made today,” said Lisa Orcher, CEO of NATSIAACC.
“But there are many, many barriers that are stopping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from accessing aged care, or from receiving appropriate care if they do manage to achieve access. The interim and ongoing Commissioner roles will play a significant role in identifying and analysing these situations, and seeking solutions,” she said.
Elsewhere, Anika Wells, the Minister for Aged Care, said improving aged care for First Nations people and providing culturally safe and tailored aged care services continues to be a key reform priority for the Government.
“Ms Kelly brings considerable experience to the role of Interim First Nations Aged Care Commissioner. The Interim First Nations Aged Care Commissioner will advocate for communities and service providers across Australia to help the reforms we are undertaking in aged care meet the needs of older First Nations people,” Minister Wells said.
The permanent First Nations Aged Care Commissioner is expected to be appointed in 2025.