The first metropolitan Aboriginal aged care service was launched in Mandurah yesterday in a significant and historic move for local Noongar people.
Operated by the South West Aboriginal Medical Service, the service will be the hub of home and community care activities, services and supports for First Nations elders in the Bindjareb region.
SWAMS chairperson Ernie Hill said the launch of the Bindjareb Elders Centre, located close to the Mandurah town centre, was a historic event for Noongar People.
"The official opening and flag-raising was conducted by a local Bindjareb elder, Aboriginal leaders, and Senator Sue Lines who represented the Australian Labor Party, which is supporting our program," Mr Hill said.
Winjan Aboriginal Corporation, based in Mandurah, conducted a cultural ceremony and Mayor Rhys Williams also spoke.
SWAMS chief executive Lesley Nelson said Aboriginal community members had not been accessing the aged care services they were entitled to, so a culturally tailored and community-led model could help address this.
"Twenty-seven per cent of non-Indigenous Australians access aged care services compared to only 6 per cent of First Nations Elders in the south-west region of Perth," Ms Nelson said.
"SWAMS is working with the communities in this region to shift these outcomes.
"We have been given an opportunity to build a workforce and support more Aboriginal community members aged 50 and over as part of a national aged care capacity-building project, and we are most grateful to be able to serve our community by doing this."
SWAMS will be drawing on the extensive experience it already has delivering services to community in the Bunbury region and wider south west, and it aims to assists 100 Elders by June of this year.
They will also work with the manager of the regional Aged Care Assessment Team to get Home Care Packages for Elders.
Elder Kayleen Bennell said she was keen to access SWAMS services and spend time with people of a similar age.
"I'm very interested in using the gardening services and looking forward to the company of others and engaging more in the activities", she said.
Aunty Kayleen is also looking for additional support around the home and assistance with taking care of her medical needs, and said she had not used any other service prior to meeting with SWAMS staff about the new Bindjareb service.
She attended SWAMS' Bindjareb Christmas function for Elders and said the lunch "was great, I really enjoyed it. I felt really comfortable there - and relaxed".
Miranda 'Mandy' Davis's painting Meeting Place provided the inspiration for the SWAMS Mandurah Bindjareb office artwork after she was commissioned to complete the work in December 2022.
Her art is now featured on SWAMS Bindjareb windows and other promotional materials.
Aunty Mandy is a Wiilman woman with family connections to Ballardong, Wardandi, Yuet, Bindjareb and Whadjuk, and she was born in Pingelly and grew up in Waroona.
The services available at the new Bindjareb site will provide social support, group activities, domestic assistance, basic home maintenance and transport to Aboriginal community members over the age of 50.
The services will also streamline the process for Aboriginal people to access aged care facilities through trusted Indigenous facilitators.
For more information about SWAMS call 1800 779 000 or visit www.swams.com.au.