The award-winning Booraja Home Care program has secured funding until 30 June 2020 to continue delivering culturally appropriate aged care services at home for Indigenous people living in the Eurobodalla region of the NSW South Coast.
Booraja Home Care Manager and Walbanga Elder Bunja Smith says the five months of funding granted through the Commonwealth Home Support Program is welcome news and thanks the Australian government for the support.
“It’s a real weight off our shoulders knowing we have gained another five months of funding to keep Booraja open and that we can keep caring for the people who have come to depend on us,” Mr Smith said.
“The funding also gives us the opportunity to continue moving the program towards self-sufficiency as we serve more people in the community and employ more carers over the next five months,” he said.
Booraja Home Care currently employs 7 Aboriginal people and cares for 29 older Aboriginal people living in Batemans Bay and surrounding towns. For the program to become fully self-sufficient Booraja will need to grow its client list to 100.
“So far we’ve had some great uptake by people in the community, the majority of whom had never heard of home care. I really encourage people in the region to get in touch, whether you are interested in getting yourself set up with some home care services or would like to work with us. We’d love to hear from you,” Mr Smith said.
Booraja Home Care has been nationally recognised with two aged care awards for its innovative work in older Aboriginal communities.
IRT Foundation secured funding in 2017 to research and increase the engagement of older Aboriginal Australians with home care services. As part of this research Booraja Home Care was formed to address the key barriers identified by the research those being a lack of: culturally competent care, trust in government services, health literacy and employment pathways for Aboriginal people.
An independent evaluation by ARTD Consultants in 2019 found the Booraja Home Care program to be a success observing it has had a positive impact on the people receiving and delivering care. The evaluation also found Booraja provides important lessons on how to establish and deliver effective, culturally-safe and localised home care.
IRT Foundation Manager Toby Dawson believes with the right level of support the model can become financially self-sustaining and rolled out across Indigenous communities nationally.
“Our research finds overall Aboriginal people have low participation rates in the current mainstream model of home care,” Mr Dawson said.
“Booraja rethinks the existing approach by recognising how important kinship and culture are to Aboriginal people and aims to provide appropriate home care that enables older Aboriginal people to stay connected to kin and country,” he said.
Representations to secure funding to ensure the long-term future of Booraja have been made to the Department of Health, Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck, Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Minister for Indigenous Affairs Ken Wyatt.
Federal Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips MP has also championed the success of Booraja to the Australian government and appealed for transitional funding to ensure its future.
Above: Robert Reynolds [Uncle Black] & Narelle Welsh