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Should Retirement Communities Be Different for Indigenous Australians?

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Not all that long ago, Turkey would have been a fantastic place to retire. Turkish taxpayers were able to retire after paying approximately 25 years worth of the mandatory contributions to their retirement fund. Depending on when a person started working, this means that retirement would have been possible in their 40s! This has since been amended, and Turkey now permits retirement at the age of 58 for women, and at the age of 60 for men. In Australia, the retirement age is 65, although this will be scaled up to 67 by 2023.

Regardless of whether someone retires as soon as is permitted when being able to receive their superannuation, or if they remain in the workforce, the retirement experience is different for each Australian. Some people might remain independently in the house they've called home for years. Others might need to relocate to specialist retirement communities as they get older. Certainly, there is a lot of variation between individual retirement communities, but should it be different for indigenous Australians? There's an initiative that is seeking to address this very question.

A Specialist Program

If you have an indigenous Australian relative or friend who would benefit from living in a retired community, the Caring for Indigenous Australians: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People program might in fact be of benefit to them. While there is some uniformity in retirement communities (such as the availability of medical staff and general assistance), the program seeks to educate retirement facilities and their staff as to any additional considerations that acknowledge the importance of a resident's Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage and history. It's largely about giving indigenous residents of retirement communities access to their culture. What can this include?

  • Acknowledgement of a connection to the land itself, which could involve visits to the surrounding countryside in recognition of its significance to the resident.
  • Specialist dietary considerations, such as if bush tucker had previously been part of the resident's diet prior to relocating to the retirement community.
  • Access to their language and culture through specially sourced media (an effort to find appropriate books and media).

The Necessary Considerations

If a retirement community has not participated in the Caring for Indigenous Australians: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People program, this certainly shouldn't exclude them from being a contender for the best home for your relative or friend. And yet, the facility should still be willing to make the necessary considerations as desired by the resident.

Though these considerations might not seem complicated, they do elicit a greater cultural sensitivity, which can make a huge difference for your relative or friend.