Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2018. Older Australia at a glance. Cat. no. AGE 87. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 20 September 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australia-at-a-glance
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2018). Older Australia at a glance. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australia-at-a-glance
Older Australia at a glance. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 10 September 2018, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australia-at-a-glance
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Older Australia at a glance [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018 [cited 2021 Sep. 20]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australia-at-a-glance
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2018, Older Australia at a glance, viewed 20 September 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australia-at-a-glance
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Indigenous Australians continue to face disadvantage in areas of education, income, employment, and housing. The relationship between these social determinants and both mental and physical health is well established . Indigenous Australians of all ages face substantial health issues. This population has a higher mortality rate and a lower life expectancy than other Australians, reflected in the younger age profile of Indigenous Australians—in 2016, just 5% (31,000) of the Indigenous population were aged 65 and over compared with 16% (3.4 million) of the non-Indigenous population .
According to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey 2014– 15, Indigenous people were half as likely as non-Indigenous people to assess their health as ‘excellent’ or ’very good’. Long-term health conditions affect almost 9 in 10 (88%) Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 55, with higher risks of certain conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease .
Older Indigenous people tend to have higher rates of disability than non-Indigenous people. In the 2016 Census, just over 1 in 4 (27%) older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported a need for assistance with core activities (self-care, mobility or communication tasks), compared with 19% of non-Indigenous people aged 65 and over .
Reduced accessibility to health and welfare services may be one reason for the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. In 2014–15, almost one quarter of Indigenous people (24%) reported problems accessing service providers; this proportion increased to 1 in 3 people (33%) for Indigenous people living in Remote or Very remote areas . In this same period, the rate of potentially preventable hospitalisations for Indigenous Australians was around 3.4 times that for non-Indigenous Australians .
In general, older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tend to be more highly represented in community-based care programs, such as Home Support and Home Care, compared with residential aged care services (Table 1). In 2016–17, around 20,000 Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over accessed Home Support services (3% of all clients)—a rate of 172.5 clients per 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over. Home Care was accessed by around 2,500 older Indigenous Australians, representing almost 3% of all clients. Home Care had a usage rate of 21.2 per 1,000 people of the target population .
Source: SCRGSP .
Less than 1% of people in permanent residential aged care in 2016–17 identified as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. The age profile of Indigenous Australians in permanent residential aged care was substantially younger than that of their non-Indigenous counterparts: 1 in 4 (26%) Indigenous Australians in care were aged under 65, compared with 3% of non-Indigenous Australians .
To address the inequality older Indigenous Australians may face in accessing aged care services, some places and programs within the aged care system are specifically allocated for people who identify as being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. In particular, Indigenous Australians can access aged care services through the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Programme. At 30 June 2017, the program had 820 operational places, predominantly located in rural and remote Australia . For more information on aged care services, see Aged Care.
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